Sudan: Renewed Tension Brewing Between Khartoum and Juba

Photo: Timothy Mckulka/UNMIS
SPLA soldiers redeploy south from the Abyei area in line with the road map to resolve the Abyei crisis (file photo).

Khartoum — The Sudanese government on Saturday accused South Sudan of providing support to rebels from the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) who have recently stepped up their attacks in multiple states across the country.

In a press release, the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) claimed that Juba provided rebels with "large numbers" of four-wheel drive cars that were recently handed to Sudan Liberation Movement of Minni Minnawi (SLM-MM) and Sudan People Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N).

The security apparatus went on to say that more vehicles are en route from South Sudan to SPLM-N and Darfur's Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).

The SPLM-N, JEM, SLM-MM are among several groups that make up the SRF which has launched several attacks last month in north and south Kordofan states that took the government by surprise as it included areas that were in the past were believed to be beyond the reach of the rebel groups.

At the time, the spokesperson of Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), Colonel al-Sawarmi Khalid Sa'ad said that they have "no proof" linking South Sudan to the recent rebels' offensive.

"South Sudan has no links to the recent assault on [North Kordofan town of] Um Rawaba", he said.

Relations between Khartoum and Juba have dramatically improved following the deal inked last March between the two neighbors to implement cooperation agreements signed last year related to several disputed items such as oil.

Last month Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir paid a visit to Juba for the first time since the country's partition into north and south in July 2011. It was believed to commence a new phase in relations that were by brinkmanship.

The NISS alleged that South Sudan supplied fuel, ammunition and training to rebels in several camps inside Unity state with the goal of launching new attacks inside Sudan.

According to the statement, South Sudan also availed military hospitals to receive the wounded Sudanese rebels and produced travel documents for a number of wounded rebels who were evacuated from South Kordofan and transferred to hospitals in unspecified African countries.

Juba also provided housing in Juba to host SRF field commanders and also furnished funds to SPLM-N and SLM-MM, the NISS said.

Sudan has routinely accused Juba of backing SRF and the SPLM-N which fought alongside the mainstream SPLM throughout the north-south civil war.

But South Sudan dismissed those allegations saying they had severed ties with SPLM-N a long time ago. The rebel group is fighting SAF since 2011 in the border states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

The new accusations by Khartoum could prove troubling to regional and international players who have lauded the apparent thaw in ties between the two ex-foes.

This week South Sudan president Salva Kiir accused the Sudanese government of standing behind the assassination of Dinka Ngok chief in Kuol Deng Kuol in the disputed region of Abyei last weekend.

"It is the government of Sudan which killed the chief... I hold the government of Sudan, especially president Bashir himself responsible if he fails to produce criminals and ensure that they are tried by the independent and competent court of law" Kiir said.

South Sudan leader said that Khartoum wanted to undermine the Abyei referendum scheduled for October under the African Union (AU) plan which the Sudanese government has swiftly rejected.

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InFocus

Tension Brews Between Sudan and South Sudan

SPLA soldiers redeploy south from the Abyei area in line with the road map to resolve the Abyei crisis (file photo).

Sudan has accused South Sudan of supporting rebels from the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) who are responsible for multiple attacks in several states across the country. Read more »