November 8, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – The ruling National Congress Party (NCP) in Sudan has rejected a US proposal aimed at resolving the conflict in the country’s oil-rich state of South Kordofan, saying Khartoum will never accept to cede any part of it.
- Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ali Karti (R) and U.S. special envoy Princeton Lyman meet in Khartoum April 6, 2011 (Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Courtesy Reuters) .
Al-Sahafah, a local Sudanese newspaper, last week reported that Washington proposed splitting South Kordofan in two as a mean to accommodate the rebels Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) which has been fighting government forces there.
The genesis of the tension that contributed to the outbreak of South Kordofan’s conflict in early June can be traced back to the dispute that marred the state’s gubernatorial elections in May this year.
The election result gave the NCP’s incumbent Ahmed Haroun victory over the SPLM-N’s candidate Abdel Aziz Al-Hilu who alleged the vote was rigged and refused to recognise its outcome.
However, the fighting is believed to have been triggered by the Sudanese army’s threats to forcibly disarm SPLM-N fighters.
According to Al-Sahafah’s report, the US proposed the reinstatement of West Kordofan state which ceased to exist following the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005.
The proposal reportedly suggests that Haroun would then be installed as governor of West Kordofan while Al-Hilu would be made the governor of South Kordofan until such time that elections can be re-held in the state.
But the proposal was swiftly met with rejection by Sudan’s state minister of media, Sanna Hamad, who said it would lead to the breakup of Sudan.
This rejection was echoed on Tuesday by the secretary of the NCP’s media department, Ibrahim Gandour, who asserted that his party rejects the proposal in its entirety.
Gandur, who speaking exclusively to the Sudanese Media Center, a pro-government website, said that his party’s rejection stems from the fact that South Kordofan was a Sudanese state and not a US territory to be handed over to the SPLM-N, adding that the breakup of the state was out of the question.
He further stressed that the government would not give up any area of the country after the secession of South Sudan. He went on to describe those who propagate such proposals as being ignorant about Sudan and what is happening in it.
The NCP official concluded that the U.S. proposal would not be discussed even if it was conveyed officially because it is rejected in principal by the government, the party and all levels of decision-making in the country.
There has been a variation in comments by Sudanese officials over the government’s willingness to seek a negotiated settlement to South Kordofan conflict.
Whereas officials in Khartoum including president Al-Bashir have expressed rejection to any mediation with the SPLM-N and vowed to crush the rebellion militarily, their governor in South Kordofan Ahmed Haroun has indicated on more than one occasion that the SPLM-N could be accepted back into the political life if it lays down its arms.
Efforts to resuscitate talks between the warring sides have failed since president Al-Bashir reneged on a framework agreement signed by his negotiators in Addis Ababa in late June to integrate SPLM-N forces into the Sudanese army and recognize the movement as a legal political party in the country.