Sudan's rebel Chief of Staff: 'not impossible to reach Khartoum'

South Kordofan
May 6, 2013 (Radio Dabanga)

The Chief of Staff (CoS) of the Sudanese rebel alliance SRF has declared that it is "not impossible" for his forces to enter Khartoum, Omdurmam or Port Sudan. His declarations come in response to "rumours in the Sudanese media" that rebels were preparing to invade Dongola, in the north of the country.

In an interview with Radio Dabanga on Monday, Abdul Aziz Al Hilu said that the SRF "has legitimate rights" to move freely within the country's territory, considering that its members are Sudanese nationals.

"If the NCP [ruling National Congress Party] troops can go to different places and wage war and attack civilians, we can follow them. Why did they go to Kadugli, Al Buram, Tolodi? We have the same rights," he asserted.

Al Hilu, who is also vice-chairman of the rebel group SPLM-N in South Kordofan, said he needs the Sudanese people to know that the SRF does not attack or rob civilians. "We attack the NCP because they are the enemy of the people and therefore, the enemy of we rebels too."

His declarations come after reports "by the NCP" that the SRF had targeted civilians when it fought for control of the towns of Abu Karshola and Umm Rawaba, in South and North Kordofan respectively, just over a week ago.

"Claims of us attacking and killing civilians is part of the on-going propaganda of the NCP against us", the rebel CoS said. He stressed that last week's attacks were in response to assaults waged by government troops on rebel-controlled areas. "We repelled the attack and pursued NCP troops until inside Abu Karshola and Umm Rawaba".

When questioned about the SRF's current position after it "withdrew" from Umm Rawaba, Al Hilu said the rebels drove-off Sudanese troops and therefore achieved their goal. The SRF then returned to their home-base area before the NCP could launch a counter-attack.

Similarly with regard to the area of Umm Barmbita, South Kordofan, Al Hilu explains that some militia elements, Popular Defence Forces and NCP troops attacked the SRF in rebel-controlled Sarafaya (South Kordofan). "But we beat them, and then pursued some of them until near Umm Barmbita. Then we came back. There have been no attacks in Umm Barmbita itself," he stressed.

Al Hilu also categorically denied allegations of Umm Barmbita being 'in SRF hands': "It is not the objective of our troops to take the town or even to enter it. What happened was a reaction to the attack."

Sudan army spokesman Colonel Al Sawarmi Khalid Saad disputes this. In a statement on Monday, he alleged that "Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) repelled an offensive of SRF 'remnants' on Umm Barmbita" and inflicted heavy casualties on them, including injuries and equipment, apart from seizing heavy weapons and destroying armoured vehicles.

He pledged the SAF would "clean all the areas of SRF remnants to achieve its goals and enabling the citizens to return to their home villages after they were forced to flee the area as a result of the 'aggression'".

The rebel CoS said that his forces will continue to pursue and harass the NCP troops until the NCP resigns. "That will mean that the NCP will have listened to the voice of reason, listened to the opposition, the New Dawn signatories, the civil society organisations, and is prepared to obey the resolutions of the international community to allow the Sudanese to live in peace."

"Until then, the SRF will pursue the NCP, if necessary all the way to Khartoum to dethrone Al Bashir the 'Pharaoh of Sudan'. "


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