February 19, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The chairman of the Sudan people’s Liberation Movement/North (SPLM-N) Malik Agar has downplayed statements made by the Sudanese defense minister Abdel-Rahim Mohamed Hussein in which he promised a decisive military victory against the rebel group.
- A Sudanese man displays damage in the aftermath of shelling by rebels in Kadugli on 11 October 2012 (AFP/File)
On Tuesday, Hussein addressed a crowd of the paramilitary Popular Defence Forces (PDF) in Khartoum, asserting the armed forces’ keenness on resolving issues through dialogue. However he emphasized their readiness to end the conflict through the “gun”.
“We are keenest to resolve issues through dialogue and only dialogue but if war is imposed upon us we will fight. We are ready to finish the summer campaign to end the rebellion” Sudan’s top military official addressed the SPLM-N negotiators.
Agar scoffed at Hussein’s remarks saying they continue to hear the government’s repeated promises to end the rebellion and that there is nothing new in Hussein’s threats.
“We heard those promises over and over again from Bashir, his defense minister and other senior officials in the years 2011, 2012, 2013 and we hear them now in 2014; however we haven’t seen anything except aerial bombardments against civilians and seizure of government weaponry and equipments by our forces”, Agar said.
- A Sudanese man points to damages at his house caused by fighting between government forces and SPLM-N rebels with strong ties to South Sudan, in Kadugli, South Kordofan on October 21 (AFP)
The rebel leader said that Hussein hastily switched the tone of negotiations, expression of good intentions and confidence building to that of war and threats, adding that the SPLM-N delegation came to the talks with a clear vision that accommodates sufferings of Sudanese people in areas of war as well as across the country.
“That is why we saw the comprehensive solution as the best solution for Sudan’s crises including the two areas because, unlike the government, we are convinced the problem of the two areas would not be solved without solving all Sudanese problems”, he added.
Agar further said his delegation arrived at the negotiating table following major military victories with the latest being in Troje area in South Kordofan and Milikin area in the Blue Nile, pointing to the high morale of their armies present across a broad front extending all over Darfur, South Kordofan, North Kordofan and Blue Nile.
He said the government’s threat is nothing but a “scarecrow” and emphasized that the regime and its militias know very well the military prowess of the SPLM-N, stressing that the balance of power has not changed since the outbreak of the conflict in 2011 until today.
- An international election observer from the Carter Center stands outside a polling centre during the second voting day in Kadugli, in Southern Kordofan May 3, 2011 (REUTERS PICTURES)
The SPLM-N chairman said the historic responsibility requires all political forces to work towards ending the war by addressing its root causes and developing genuine mechanisms to achieve a comprehensive and fair peace.
Meanwhile, Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) secretary of information, Yasser Yussef, accused the SPLM-N of stalling the recent round of talks in order to appease its allies in the rebel coalition known as the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF).
He said in press statements on Wednesday that the SPLM-N delegation came to the talks with prior intention to obstruct negotiations, adding that the rebels chose to appease leaders of Darfur rebel groups instead of the peoples of the two areas.
Youssef further said the behavior of the SPLM-N in the recent round of talks did not live up to the level of the national and humanitarian responsibility, calling upon the international community to put real pressure on the SPLM-N in order to stop sufferings and bloodshed and achieve peace in the two areas.
On Tuesday, the chair of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), Thabo Mbeki, announced that talks between Sudan’s government and SPLM-N which sought to end the two-and-half-year conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile have been suspended for ten days.
The two delegations accused each other of impeding this round of negotiations.
While the government delegation held the SPLM-N delegation responsible for hindering talks, the SPLM-N said that the former sought partial solutions for the crisis.
The Blue Nile and South Kordofan’s conflict erupted months apart from each other in 2011 when Sudan attempted to forcibly disarm SPLM-N fighters it accuses of being backed by their brother-in-arms in the South Sudanese army.
The head of the South Kordofan bloc in the national parliament Afaf Tower said it is highly unlikely that the two sides could reach an agreement given that each party is stuck to their own agenda making it difficult to reach a middle ground.
She said that the continued negotiating with no result is a drain on the country’s treasury and accused the SPLM-N of prolonging the war and seeking world’s sympathy on behalf of the Nuba and Blue Nile people.
Tower strongly criticized the retention of the SPLM-N’s ninth and tenth division in the region and not withdrawing them, which she said indicates a desire for military escalation.
The MP stressed that the SPLM-N has no real power on the ground that enables it to launch surprise attacks against the army after the latter’s military campaign almost neutralized them adding that the deadlock in negotiation track forces the government to resort to war.
SPLM-N STRIKES S. KORDOFAN CAPITAL
Meanwhile, SPLM-N forces have reportedly launched Katyusha rocket attacks on South Kordofan’s capital city of Kadugli, one day after the adjournment of peace talks in Addis Ababa between the government and rebels.
Local sources said that four Katyusha rockets fell outside the city on Wednesday evening. The last bombing of this kind on Kadugli took place last December.
A resident of Kadugli told Agence France Presse (AFP) that several rockets hit the southern part of the town at about 1500 GMT.
"I saw one house ablaze," said the witness, who had no information about any casualties and asked not to be identified.
SPLM-N spokesperson Arnu Ngutulu told Sudan Tribune he has not received from military commanders any info on such assault but noted Khartoum’s continuous aerial bombardments of civilians in the Nuba mountains and recent remarks by Sudan’s defense minister.
Ngutulu added that their attacks on Sudanese army’s military positions is in response to that.
This week, the SPLM-N accused Sudan’s air force of bombing several areas in Om-Dulu area in Nuba mountains killing 11 people there and 3 in Buram district most of whom are women and children.
The governor of South Kordofan Adam al-Faki told the pro-government Ashorooq TV that the shelling shows the SPLM-N’s unwillingness to reach peace. He added that the Sudanese army will carry on with military operations until the next round of negotiations in wake of today’s rebel attack.
Al-Faki said that the rebel targeting of the cities and citizens has become a regular occurrence in all its recent military activities stressing the army’s ability to respond decisively.