By Julius N. Uma
March 13, 2011 (JUBA) - A senior member of South Sudan’s ruling party has accused the Khartoum-based National Congress Party (NCP) of backing militias with the intention to cause a “genocide” in the semi-autonomous region as it approaches independence.
Pagan Amum, Secretary General of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), made the accusation following clashes in South Sudan that have rocked the region since it voted to secede from the north in a referendum in January.
The National Congress Party’s Rabie Abdelati has dismissed the accusations as "ridiculous".
The conflicts in South Sudan, and SPLM accusations, have raised fears that conflict could reignite between the two regions. North and South Sudan have fought for most of Sudan’s 55 year independence.
January’s referendum was agreed as part of the 2005 peace agreement that ended the most recent civil war. The peace deal is due to end in July with the South’s independence.
“The country is currently in a crisis. We have got information and obtained vital evidence that the NCP is creating, training, arming and financing various militia groups with intentions to destabilize South Sudan through genocide,” Amum told journalists at Juba airport.
The SPLM, he added, has already suspended all form of negotiations and contacts with its northern counterpart until the two parties come to a compromise over all matters at stake. The two parties to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) have yet to agree on many separation issues including, demarcating the North-South border, natural recourses (oil and water), nation debt and assets, citizenship and currency.
Amum also said the government of South Sudan is looking into the possibility of stopping the export of the region’s oil through the north in July. He said that the SPLM was considering the possibilities of alternative routes of transport other than northern pipelines.
South Sudan is landlocked. Under the CPA the north and south share the south’s oil revenues 50-50. But that deal is set to expire in July and the south was expected to continue to export oil through the north paying a fee for the pipelines and refining facilities, which are based in the north.
Amum said that his party would provide the media with documented evidence to show how the north plans to destabilize the south. Over 45 people have died in clashes in Upper Nile state between the southern army (SPLA) and forces loyal to George Athor who rebelled after he lost his bid to become governor of Jongleu state in elections last year.
The SPLM have accused the NCP of aiding Athor, an allegation that Khartoum denied.
Both parties have also been negotiating over the future of the border region of Abyei. The oil-producing region was supposed to hold a referendum as part of the 2005 peace deal but it did not go ahead due to a dispute over who should be allowed to vote.
Abyei has also seen deadly clashes in the run up to and since the South’s referendum with scores killed. The NCP has maintained that the Arab Misseriya tribe, who enter the region with their livestock for part of the year, should be allowed to vote in the referendum. But the SPLM have rejected this, claiming that the southern-aligned Dinka Ngok are the legitimate constituency in Abyei.
"The NCP have been arming Arab tribes along the border of the north and south ... so they carry out genocide like they have done to the African people in Darfur. This is what they want to do again”, Amum said on Sunday.
He called on the United Nations Security Council to stop what he described as an impending genocide. The UN has a large mission in Sudan to monitor the implementation of the CPA but they are not expected to be asked to stay on in the north after July.
Amum said that the SPLM remains committed towards the creation of two independent states on July 9 and would like to return to talks with NCP but claimed "we have nobody to talk to ... they are already engaged in war."
“We want to see the north and south emerge as two independent states sharing a common border with normal relations based on mutual understanding after the July independence,” he said.
He also accused northern party of attempting to overthrow the southern government before the independence of the South is declared. Amum claimed that the NCP intended to install a puppet government before the oil-producing South’s independence.
He however urged the southern population to remain vigilant and defend their right to peace, political stability and self-determination.
The SPLM Secretary General also appealed to the UN Security Council and the international community to investigate Khartoum’s actions.