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South Sudan minister invites Khartoum to prove region is supporting Darfur rebels


November 30, 2010 (JUBA & ABYEI) - A senior minister in the southern government has urged the Sudan’s central government to come clean on allegations that the semi-autonomous region was harboring rebels from Sudan’s troubled western region of Darfur.

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Barnaba Marial Benjamin (ST)

Barnaba Marial Benjamin, South Sudan’s Information and Broadcasting Minister told journalists at a weekly press briefing in Juba that the statements from the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) are “bad rumors with bad taste”.

The allegations, if true, would be a violation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the NCP and southern rebels the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), which ended decades of bloody civil war. Tensions are rising between the parties as the oil-producing south moves closer to a referendum in January, in which the oil-producing south is widely expected to vote to secede.

Already tense relations between the SPLM and the NCP got worse recently after North Sudan’s army (SAF) carried bombed an southern army (SPLA) base in Aweil North county in the southern state of Northern Bahr el Ghazal state, which borders Darfur. The northern army deny the attack took place, although the south claim that four soldiers were injured in the attack November 23 attack.

A similar incident occurred, again in Northern Bahr el Ghazal, on November 13 but this time the north admitted that it had done so while trying to attack members of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) Darfur rebel group. JEM recently clashed with government troops in south Darfur and Kordofan.

However Marial, an SPLM minister in the semi-autonomous southern government denied the NCP’s claims that the region was supporting the rebels.

“The Government of Southern Sudan and the SPLM is offering no support to Darfur rebel groups. In any case, it has never been our intention to create another war or escalate the conflict in either Darfur or any other part of the country,” Marial said.

Last week, Mr. Gahzi Salah Eddin, the Sudanese presidential adviser in charge of Darfur file criticized what he described as the SPLM’s alleged involvement in Darfur conflict, further asking the government in the south to “stop its support to the rebel groups in western Sudan.”

The presidential aide made these remarks from Nyala, the provincial capital of South Darfur state, where he attended a reconciliation meeting between Misseirya and Rizzagat tribes in Kass.

However, Marial rubbished the NCP official’s claims, challenging him to come to South Sudan and help its officials apprehend rebels they claimed to be hiding in the south.

“It time for our brothers in the north to come clean on some of these waves of allegations. Anyone who still thinks Darfur rebels leaders are hiding in the south should come and identify them. Infact, I will be more than willing to accompany them in arresting them in this process,” said Marial, who was flanked by Mustapha Biong, the Ministry’s Director General for Information.

Despite the recent accusations regarding JEM, in the past, the Khartoum regime accused the SPLM of supporting the faction of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) led by Abdel Wahid Al-Nur, who had been close to the late southern rebel leader John Garang de Mabior.

Before his death Garang negotiated and signed the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement with the NCP in Naivasha Kenya, in which both parties agreed to share power and (oil) wealth for an interim period of six years.

Voting for the southern referendum is due to begin on January 9 2011 exactly six years after the deal was signed.

Speaking to Sudan Tribune by telephone after the press conference in Juba Marial criticized officials in the NCP describing them as people “who do not want the referendum to take place” for their own interest.

“They are people in the north who do not want referendum to be conducted. They appear to have forgotten that the right to self determination for the people south Sudan was discussed and agreed by the two parties in the Naivasha,” said Minister Marial.

He said leadership of the two parties pledged commitment to implement the agreement at the time of singing in the presence of international community.

"The two parties pledged their commitment to fully implement the agreement in good faith and to the spirit of which it was negotiated but I do not understand why the Sudan Armed Forces launched offensive attack to drive our people out of their homes during registration. Why sabotaged voter registration?" asked minister Marial.

He said failure of Khartoum government to make unity an attractive option to the south Sudanese during the last six year of interim period shows that Northern Sudan is not interested in united Sudan.

“There is nothing that shows the north is interested in united Sudan," he said.

"They have not made unity option an attractive choice during the last six year of interim period instead they made secession more attractive option to the south Sudan people they have failed to convince them," Marial explained.

South Sudan is widely expected to vote to become and independent country in January’s poll.


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  • 2 December 2010 04:16, by James Mangula

    Tit for tat is sometimes a good strategy when you are dealing with ruthless and dictatorial regime like NCP. When did proxy war became a bad idea for NCP. NCP, has for many years pioneered the harbouring and financially supporting bunch of terrorists who did not only massively oppressed Southern Sudanese,but the whole world. Osama was harboured and financially supported by National Islamic Front (NIF), which is now re-named as National Congress Party (NCP). Innumerable proxy militias of Southern origin were for decades harboured, equipped and sent to the South where they had done untold indiscriminate suffering to the population. Now NCP is suffering from pre-eminent delusion that SPLM might have learnt from its dirty policies and would be applying them as tit for tat.

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