Sudanese Rebels Urge UK to Pressure Government to End War

Khartoum — The secretary-general of the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N), Yasir Arman, urged UK officials on Thursday to exert pressure on the Sudanese government to stop the war with his group in the country's border region of South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

Arman made his call during a meeting in London with UK's Special Representative for Sudan and South Sudan, Robin Gwynn, and his aides. The meeting discussed the humanitarian situation in the two states and current political situation in the country.

The rebel official denied Sudan government's accusations that his group was obstructing a deal signed in August with the UN, AU and the Arab League who make up the Tripartite Initiative to deliver aid in the two regions where the 16-month conflict has displaced and severely affected 908,000 people, according to UN figures.

"The SPLM-N is ready to open safe [humanitarian] corridors without conditions" he insisted. "Moreover, we are ready to accelerate the humanitarian operation and support the creation of a buffer demilitarized zone between Sudan and South Sudan if the international community asks us to do so. After all, we control 40 percent of the international border areas between Sudan and South Sudan" he added.

The Tripartite Initiative says neither Sudan government nor the insurgents gave consent to an action plan it proposed to deliver aid in SPLM-N controlled areas. Khartoum already announced it has reservations over the plan while the SPLM-N says it wants a ceasefire and will not accept to allow government representatives to access their areas and participate in the aid delivery process.

Since Sudan and South Sudan signed the border security deal on 27 September, the SPLM-N has increased military activities in South Kordofan and shelled the state capital Kadugli a number of times in response to what it describes as the continuation of Khartoum's campaign of aerial bombardment and its preparations for a massive "summer military offensive" against their positions.

Arman also held two separate meetings on Thursday at The House of Lords and The House of Commons in London with a number of British parliamentarians and activists. He discussed the humanitarian issue and urged maximization of pressure on Khartoum to stop what he described as its crimes against civilians and allow humanitarian assistance to reach SPLM-N areas.

Khartoum has been blocking humanitarian assistance from SPLM-N controlled areas since the conflict in the two states started last year, citing concerns that aid might fall into the hands of the insurgents. The government also says it will not stop the war unless the SPLM-N completely disengages its connections to South Sudan army, with which the rebels fought against Khartoum in the second Sudanese civil war.

Meanwhile, the Sudanese army (SAF) announced on Thursday that its operations against the SPLM-N in South Kordofan and Blue Nile will continue throughout the nine months of dry season and not only during summer. SAF's official spokesperson Al-Sawarmi Khalid Saad said that they are not only targeting the rebels during summer as they allege but their military operation will continue except in the rainy seasons.

Local newspapers reported last week that Sudan defense minister Abdel Rahim Mohammed Hussian announced in a closed-door session with parliamentarians that the rebellion in the two states will be defeated during the "ongoing summer campaign"

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