Heiban — The Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) held a conference in Heiban last week to discuss the claims for self-determination by the Nuba Mountains Council.
The event came ahead of a general conference after a rift that broke the rebel group into two groups last June. The three-day meeting from 4 to 7 October was attended by 475 delegates, representing all districts of the Nuba Mountains. President Abdelaziz El Hilu led the conference in the presence of his deputy Jacod Mekouar and SPLM-N Chief of Staff Izat Koko Angelo.
"After extensive deliberations and discussions, the participants passed the Crucial Issues Document including the right of self-determination for the people of the Nuba Mountains/South Kordofan, and then the conference endorsed the organisational performance report," according to a press statement released on Monday.
The regional liberation council elected in a special session Brigadier General Adam Kuku Kodi as president of the Council, Travina Joseph as his deputy, and Hashim Abdallah Ibrahim as secretary-general of the SPLM-N in the Nuba Mountains.
The participants elected 110 members to the Nuba Mountains Liberation Council and raised 122 members as delegates to the upcoming extraordinary general conference which was scheduled to start on 6 October. But difficulties to reach the landlocked site in the rebel-hold area delayed the delegates, in combination with organisational matters related to the representation of the different areas outside the Nuba Mountains.
Sudanese opposition groups were not able to travel to the venue of the meeting. The Embassy of South Sudan in Khartoum denied visas to their delegates under the pretext that granting visas means supporting armed movements.
The Sudanese army has been fighting the SPLM-N rebels in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan, also known as the Two Areas, since 2011. In April, the Nuba Mountains Liberation Council decided to suspend peace talks and later, sacked the SPLM-N President Malik Agar and Secretary-General and chief negotiator with the Khartoum delegation, Yasir Arman. They had refused to include the self-determination process in the position paper of the rebel group during peace negotiations with the Sudanese government.
The SPLM-N has been divided since the internal struggle. El Hilu was appointed chairman and commander in chief while in Blue Nile state, Malik Agar leads a faction of the rebel group.