July 31, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – Nafei Ali Nafei, Vice-President of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) in Sudan, on Saturday appeared to be striking a conciliatory tone towards the armed opposition Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), saying his party recognizes the latter in the country’s flashpoint regions of South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
- Sudan’s National Congress Party (NCP) deputy leader and presidential assistant Nafi Ali Nafi addresses a rally during a campaign for the referendum on Sudan’s unity, in Khartoum November 9, 2010 (REUTERS PICTURES)
On behalf of his government, Nafei signed a framework agreement last month with the SPLM, the north Sudan’s offshoot of the ruling party in the newly independent state of South Sudan, to deescalate the situation in South Kordofan, a north-south border state racked by fighting between Sudan army and SPLM elements since 6 June.
South Kordofan fighting, which so far displaced more than 72,000 and killed hundreds according to UN figures, erupted after Sudan army moved to disarm SPLM-aligned fighters, mostly drawn from the state’s African Nuba population which largely sided with the South during Sudan’s north-south second civil wars from 1983-2005.
The agreement was, however, scrapped by the NCP’s chairman and the country’s president Omer Al-Bashir who publicly faulted his close aide and objected to the deal’s recognition of the SPLM as “a legal political party in Sudan,” saying that the lift-wing party must surrender its arms and conform with the regulations of registering political parties.
Addressing a public rally on Saturday in Sinja town in the country’s state of Sinnar, Nafei, said that the NCP recognizes the SPLM as an entity in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
The NCP stalwart went on to call on the people of the two states to cooperate and melt into the pot of a united Sudan.
NCP officials have been making contradictory statements towards the SPLM, with some vowing to sustain the army’s offensive against its forces in South Kordofan and others calling for dialogue.
SPLM’s officials warned that NCP’s attempts to wriggle out of South Kordofan deal would serve to aggravate and spread the war to the Blue Nile.
Under the 2005’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which ended Sudan’s north-south war and paved the way for the south’s independence, The Blue Nile and South Kordofan were given a special status and promised popular consultations to measure the level of local satisfaction with the deal implementation.
However, the deal expired with the south’s secession and the popular consultation process stalled in both states.