8 December 2010

Sudan: SAF Drop 18 Bombs to South Sudan Territory - SPLA

Juba — The Sudan Armed Forces dropped 18 bombs between Timsa and Raja counties of the southern state of Western Bahr El Ghazal at 3PM on Wednesday, according the regions minister of information and broadcasting, Baranba Marial Benjamin

Speaking on Southern Sudan Television (SSTV) on Wednesday evening Marial said that no casualties had been reported. The recent bombardment has caused the cancelation of a sporting competition, which was supposed to take place in Western Bahr El Ghazal this week, the minister said.

Marial said that "as official spokesman of government of South Sudan, we receive information this evening that SAF had dropped 18 bombs in SPLA zone areas at Timsa and Raja in Western Bahr El Ghazal state - this is very regrettable news to South Sudan government - we called upon Government of National Unity to stop this bombardment act and let peace prevail - we don't need war".

After a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of civil war the dominant parties of the north and south, the National Congress Party (NCP) and Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) agreed to share power and wealth by forming a Government of National Unity.

Under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) the SPLM has ruled the south as a autonomous region for the last six years and in January is widely expected to vote for independence in a referendum.

In recent weeks the south has accused the north of bombing raids inside southern territory. On the first occasion the northern army the SAF said that it was a mistake while pursuing rebels from Sudan's restive Darfur region.

But subsequent claims by the SPLA - the southern army - that bombings have taken place have been denied by the SAF.

According to the SPLA's official spokesman Col. Philip Aguer, two Antinov aircraft were used by the SAF to bomb SPLA positions in Raja and Timsa.

Aguer said that bombing the south had become a "habit" of the SAF and said it "does not match" the requirement for peace. The spokesmen said that the bombing intended to return the country to war. The last north-south civil war lasted from 1983-2005 killing two million people and forcing four million to flee their homes according to the UN.

The SPLA spokesmen said that the bombings were "not acceptable" at this stage of the peace deal as South Sudan approaches its referendum on secession.

Aguer appealed to the signatories of the peace deal - the SPLM and NCP - to implement the remainder of the agreement peacefully. The SPLA, he said, would not respond the bombing as it would only be "adding fuel on fire".

"We need to called upon international community witness the aggressiveness being carryout out by SAF against people of South Sudan at our critical referendum expected to birth new nation - it is good that UN were present in Timsa today watching what happened this afternoon."

Aguer expects the SAF to continue to bomb SPLA positions but said the former southern rebels "are not for war at this time". Instead he said the SPLA wants to see the remaining aspects of the CPA implemented.

The main remaining issues are conducting the referendum for the south but also another plebiscite in the border region of Abyei, which has been severely delayed by disagreements other voter eligibility, the formation of a commission to run the referendum and demarcating Abyei's borders.

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