Sudan Rebels Call On International Community to Downgrade Relations With Khartoum

Agok — The leader of a coalition of Sudanese rebel groups on Monday asked the international community to immediately consider downgrading diplomatic relations with the government in Khartoum.

Malik Agar, the former governor of Blue Nile State, said that the policy of countries towards Sudan should focus on supporting the Sudanese people, especially those in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan where rebels are fighting the government.

The rebel leader added that it was "high time" the international community "stand up to hold Sudanese government in Khartoum [which is] responsible for all crimes it has committed against Sudanese people."

Senior Sudanese officials have been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for the conduct of the counter insurgency campaign in Sudan's western region of Darfur, where rebels began fighting the government in 2003.

Agar called on the African Union and United Nations Security Council and European Union not to give immunity to those alleged to have committed war crimes and genocide.

Last year, after seven years of a peace deal, Agar's Sudan People's Liberation Movement - North (SPLM-N) resumed its armed struggle with Khartoum, complaining of rigged election in South Kordofan and the failure to fully implement the 2005 peace deal. South Sudan seceded last year as part of the agreement but Blue Nile and South Kordofan remain in Sudan with large SPLM-N support.

Khartoum accuses the SPLM-N of starting the fighting and has insisted they disarm or move into South Sudan. Agar who governed Blue Nile, which border South Sudan, from elections in 2010 until he was disposed by Khartoum in September 2011, when fighting broke out.

In November 2011 the SPLM-N announced it had formed a coalition - the Sudan Revolutionary Forces (SRF) - with Darfur's three main rebel groups.

Agar told Sudan Tribune that he wanted peace but repeated the SRF's stance that peace and stability could not be realised under the regime of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, which has been in power since 1989.

The Sudanese people need African Union and UN Security Council to take "strong steps and actions against the government in Khartoum. The African leaders must take the lead in the intervention. The Arab League must isolate and dissociate itself from supporting the government of Bashir so that they are not seen as being supporter of impunity", he said.

Countries which host Bashir, who has been indicted for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide by the ICC, "must realise that they are indirectly or directly contributing towards sustained war against humanity", he said.

Agar said that the current unrest in Khartoum was a sign that the National Congress Party regime needed to be changed both through peaceful means and armed struggle.

The SRF was having increased contact with Sudan's opposition groups, he said, calling on all Sudanese people to protest against the NCP's refusal to allow aid into SPLM-N controlled areas of South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

Over 100,000 Sudanese have fled the fighting into South Sudan and Ethiopia. The SPLM-N has said it is willing to follow a tripartite proposal put forward by the UN, AU and Arab League to ensure that aid provided in SPLM-N controlled areas did not benefit the rebels.

Aid has often been highly politicised in Sudan's civil wars and the government does not want to see large camps of displaced people created in Blue Nile and South Kordofan.

Agar said that Sudanese people had previously, in October 1964 and April 1985, overthrown regimes through popular uprisings and called for further sacrifices to get rid of Bashir's NCP.

"The Sudanese people have made sacrifices to bring peace and administrative reforms in the past. They made sacrifices to remove Nimery. They made sacrifices to remove Aboud. They made sacrifices to remove Sawar El Dahab and they are making sacrifices to also remove Bashir."

BANNED WEAPONS

Agar asked the international community to take action to ensure that the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) do not use banned weapons against people in Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile.

Despite bans on arms sold to Sudan being used in Darfur, human rights groups have found evidence that Chinese arms have been used there.

Last month The Independent, a UK newspaper, published allegations that Sudan was using cluster bombs in South Kordofan. SAF has denied possessing or using the bombs, which are banned in many countries.

HOLISTIC APPROACH TO PEACE

The head of the SRF welcomed international efforts to resolve Sudan's conflicts but emphasised that they must address all areas and not treat the SPLM-N's rebellion in South Kordofan and Blue Nile separately from the war in Darfur.

The African Union High Implementation Panel on Sudan, which is currently mediating between Sudan and South Sudan on post-partition issues, had last year mediated between the two sides before the SRF was formed.

"We have made our position very clear to the African Union High Implementation Panel when we met them recently. We told them clearly that Sudanese people do not need piece meal solution. They need comprehensive solution so that when there is peace in Darfur, the same peace must be realised also in other areas including Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile because they are Sudanese people," said Agar.

In May the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution demanding that South Sudan stop backing its former war-time colleagues in the SPLM-N. Resolution 2046 also instructed Khartoum and the SPLM-N to resume talks based on the agreement that was negotiated in Addis Ababa last year but was later scrapped by Bashir.

Agar said the SRF's latest leadership meeting concluded that Sudan's problems need a comprehensive solution, indicating that the SPLM-N will not return to talks without their Darfur counterparts involvement.

The Sudan Liberation Movement of Abdel Wahed Mohamed el-Nur, part of the SRF have insisted that the NCP regime be overthrown and have refused to attend the last year's Doha peace process. The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) did attend the talks but refused to agree that the final document was anything more than a basis for further talks.

One group the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) did sign the deal and has joined the government. The Minni Minnawi faction of the SLM was the only Darfur rebel group to sign the Darfur Peace Agreement of 2006 but has since left the government and is part of the SRF.

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