June 9 2011 (KHARTOUM) – A leading figure from the Sudan people Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the former deputy governor of South Kordofan Abdel-Aziz Al-Hilu denied reports that he was injured and called for removing the central government in Khartoum led by president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir.
- The SPLM governor candidate Abdul Aziz Al-Hilu and former deputy governor of South Kordofan state (Reuters)
In an interview by phone with the London based Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper published Thursday, Al-Hilu said that he is in the capital town of Kadugli leading "the battle for dignity to accomplish the fundamental change in the center".
Al-Hilu called on the Sudanese people to join the battle for toppling the Bashir government in order to obliterate all forms of marginalization including political, economical, social, religious or cultural.
He stressed that the country’s conflicts cannot be resolved by allocating positions in the government adding that the crisis is not confined to South Kordofan.
"These [issues] are the product of policies made in Khartoum which generates civil wars, discrimination and instability," Al-Hilu said.
The SPLM figure said that changing the government will pave the way for building the new Sudan on a new basis of justice, freedom and equality.
"Toppling the regime for translating these aspirations in [the form] of a new constitution that recognizes diversity....which accomplishes democratic transformation and requirements for justice and permanent peace" Al-Hilu said.
South Kordofan state has been the scene of intense clashes since the weekend between SPLA units and Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) particularly in Kadugli and surrounding areas.
It came over a week after SAF warned SPLA in Blue Nile and South Kordofan to withdraw southwards by June 1st or face action. The SPLM in control of the soon to secede South rejected the ultimatum saying that SPLA fighters in these border areas are actually Northerners.
The SPLM Secretary general in Northern Sudan Yasir Arman said this week that Al-Hilu had left Kadugli since the weekend because of the “provocative” actions of the northern army.
SAF and SPLA both exchanged blame on who started the fighting in the north’s only oil-producing state, which borders the south and was a key battleground during the two decades civil war.
Eyewitnesses reported last Sunday that SAF tanks entered Kadugli following attacks by SPLA on police stations the night before. The Northern army later said that it clashed with SPLA in Umm Dorain which is about 12km south east of Kadugli and was forced to withdraw after suffering casualties.
Disputed elections for governor last month have also heightened the tensions in Kadugli.
The state governor, Ahmed Haroun, was re-elected this month on the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) ticket when running against Al-Hilu. The latter refused to recognize the result alleging fraud but did not threaten any military backlash.
On Thursday the Sudanese president announced that his army is flushing out rebels from the state.
"The situation in South Kordofan is under the control of the Sudanese Armed Forces which are now clearing the state of the remaining rebels," Bashir was quoted as saying by the Sudan official news agency (SUNA) today during a cabinet meeting.
Yesterday the NCP leadership council headed by Bashir met and declared that political solution will not work in South Kordofan and said that the army is given a free hand to quell the rebellion.
Al-Hilu in his interview accused Bashir of intentionally seeking a fight in the state to avoid the deliverable of popular consultation stipulated by the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).
Under the CPA, South Kordofan is meant to hold a so-called popular consultation to decide whether the agreement has met the aspiration of the state’s people and resolve any pending issues related to its implementation.
"Khartoum is trying to avoid paying the entitlement of popular consultation, but we will not give it up even if it leads to another twenty years of war, and there is no concession at all of these rights" Al-Hilu said.
"We fought for twenty years, and have learned from that war, and the NCP has nothing but tyranny and arrogance. They now declared war, and voided the agreement, and they have to bear the consequences and we will not go back to dialogue with them again, because they betrayed an accord we reached a few days ago and assassinated SPLA who were working as part of joint units" he added.
Al-Hilu revealed that they are investigating whether Egyptian UN peacekeepers in the area conspired with SAF saying the contingency has a "criminal" history. He said that the SPLA is in firm control of the state.
The United Nations said on Thursday that the fighting was ongoing and had spread across the state.
"There is still fighting today in Kadugli and it has spread to other locations, including Kauda and Talodi," said Kouider Zerrouk, a spokesman for the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), referring to towns in the eastern part of the state.
Antonov bombers and low-flying MIG fighter jets were observed combing the hills around Kadugli, according to UN sources, where SAF has also been shelling SPLA positions since Tuesday.
A witness in Kadugli, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Agence France Presse (AFP) on Thursday that while the fighting had abated in the town, the security and humanitarian situation was deteriorating.
On Wednesday, police fired tear gas at a group of more than 100 Christians to force them out of a church compound where they were gathered, the witness said, while the Popular Defence Forces, a militia now part of the Sudanese army, were seen conducting house-to-house searches for SPLA troops.
There were also clashes on Thursday in Deleng, around 100 kilometres (60 miles) north of Kadugli, a witness there said.