August 30, 2011 (NAIROBI) – The Sudanese government on Tuesday sent a letter to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) accusing South Sudan of supporting rebels in South Kordofan and Darfur, a charge Juba has categorically denied.
- Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Ahmed Karti chats with an unidentified embassy staff during a news conference at the Sudan Embassy in Beijing, China (AP Photos)
Recrimination and tension have defined the relations between north and South Sudan since the latter declared independence from Sudan in July this year per a vote promised under 2005’s peace deal which ended more than two-decades of civil war between the two sides.
The north-south border state of South Kordofan descended into a state of war since early June between Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and fighters of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N), an offshoot of the party that rules South Sudan.
SPLM-N fighters are mostly affiliated to South Kordofan’s Nuba population which largely sided with the south during the war.
The letter sent by Sudan’s foreign minister Ali Karti spoke of the commitment demonstrated by GoS in implementing the peace deal’s provisions in contrast with “recurring” violations by the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) of the same deal.
“The positions of the Republic of South Sudan (RoSS) have always been hostile towards Sudan,” the letter alleged. The letter went on to say that the hostilities are represented in the “continued” sheltering and support rendered by RoSS to Sudan’s rebel groups in the western region of Darfur and South Kordofan.
It also cited allegations of numerous violations of the peace deal, including GoS’s deployment of 2500 soldiers in the hotly contested region of Abyei under the guise of police forces, failure to disarm its fighters in South Kordofan or withdraw them behind the 1956 border strip, sponsoring a conference this month to mobilize rebels in South Kordofan and Darfur to topple the Sudanese government through armed struggle.
“The government of RoSS has been standing behind all hostile actions in South Kordofan and supports them with arms and [military] machinery,” Sudan’s letter said.
It further claimed that RoSS continues to “incite the SPLM-N to wage a proxy war” in South Kordofan.
Sudan encouraged the UNSC to harness its jurisdictions to bring South Sudan to commit to the agreements signed between the two states and cease support for Darfur and South Kordofan’s rebels.
In response, South Sudan has denied Sudan’s accusation, suggesting that the blame for South Kordofan’s troubles rests solely on Khartoum’s shoulders.
“There is no element of truth whatsoever in Sudan’s accusations,” South Sudan’s information minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday.
Benjamin said that Khartoum has only itself to blame for South Kordofan’s war because it failed to implement the popular consultation vote in the area as stipulated under the peace agreement with South Sudan.
South Sudan’s minister vowed that his country would respond to the letter at the UNSC because the complaint has no justifications.
“The Sudanese government is bombing civilians in South Kordofan, how do we come in?” he asked.
International groups blamed aerial bombardment carried out by Sudan’s army for numerous causalities in the area.
According to Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, their researchers led a week-long mission to the area in late August and were able to establish that SAF had carried out 13 air strikes in Kauda, Delami and Kurchi areas where at least 26 civilians were killed and more than 45 others injured since mid-June.
Sudan’s president Omer hassan Al-Bashir recently announced a two week-long unilateral ceasefire in South Kordofan as political settlement to the conflict remained elusive.
But the Sudanese army on Monday reported it had clashed with SPLM-N rebels in few areas, accusing the rebels of attempting to exploit the ceasefire.
SPLM-N’s secretary-general Yasir Arman said that Al-Bashir’s ceasefire is a public relations stunt aiming to hoodwink the international community and prepare the ground for a military offensive.
Today the US called on Khartoum to respect its own declared truce.
"The United States is deeply concerned about reports of continued Sudanese Air Force bombings of civilian areas in Southern Kordofan," despite the truce, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.
UN reports accused the Sudanese army and its allied paramilitary forces of committing wide-ranging atrocities in South Kordofan, including "extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and illegal detention, enforced disappearances and attacks against civilians."
The UN said the allegations, if substantiated, could amount to crimes against humanity or war crimes. The Sudan government labeled the report as biased.