7 July 2011

Sudan: President Al-Bashir Officially Renounces South Kordofan Accord

Khartoum — Sudan president Omer Al-Bashir has officially scrapped the accord his ruling National Congress Party (NCP) signed last month with the opposition Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) to contain violence in South Kordofan state, blowing the lid off NCP's divisions over the deal.

Al-Bashir spelled out the obituary of the deal as he addressed a public rally held on Thursday in the White Nile State, saying his party had rejected the accord inked by his assistant and NCP's vice-president Nafi Ali Nafi in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on 29 June.

The accord, which was facilitated by the African Union High-Implementation Level on Sudan headed by Thabo Mbeki, states that the NCP shall recognize the SPLM as a "legal political party in the north," in sharp contrast with previous assertions by NCP officials that the north Sudan section of the ruling party in South Sudan will not be allowed to operate in the north after the south secedes as scheduled on 9 July.

It also provides for the integration of SPLM fighters in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan into north Sudan army known as the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) as well as the initiation of talks to reach an agreement to cease hostilities in South Koordofan, which continues to chafe under heavy fighting between SAF and SPLM.

Signs of rifts within the NCP over the agreement began to emerge after Al-Bashir declared last Friday that he had instructed the army to continue its operations in South Kordofan until it is "purged" and the SPLM's leader in the state, Abdul Aziz Al-Hilu is "arrested."

The picture became clearer following angry reactions to the agreement by some NCP hardliners as well as supporters of the anti-SPLM party, the Just Peace Forum, which mobilized its widely-circulated mouthpiece, Al-Intibaha newspaper, to wage a public campaign against the accord.

In his address, Al-Bashir openly faulted his negotiators for signing the deal, and dictated new terms for any future talks with the SPLM, which he accused of committing an act of "treason" in South Kordofan.

"After the betrayal, treason and displacement in South Kordofan they come to propose a political partnership, there is no partnership before security arrangements are put in place and the [Comprehensive] Peace Agreement is implemented, and we must sit with them here inside [the country] not in Addis [Ababa] or outside Sudan," Al-Bashir told the crowd.

Earlier on the same day, in statements to the privately owned daily newspaper Al-Akhbar, Al-Bashir confirmed his rejection to Addis Ababa deal in both its political and military aspects.

Al-Bashir told the paper that his party had agreed with a body "lacking legitimacy," explaining that the legitimate SPLM had ceased to exist in the north with the secession of the south and that its leaders had perforce become citizens of another country.

Yasir Arman, the secretary-general of the SPLM's northern sector, warned this week that any attempt by the NCP to wriggle out of the Addis Ababa accord would lead to an all-out war in the transitional areas of Blue Nile and South Kordofan.

Since the eruption of violence in South Kordofan in early June, more than 70,000 people have been displaced, according to UN figures. The clashes escalated into artillery and aerial bombardment amid reports of ethnic targeting of the Nuba population which largely fought alongside the SPLM during Sudan's second North-South civil war.

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