January 22, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) Sunday said it has no fighters harboured in the neighbouring South Sudan, pointing that its forces are in control of vast areas inside the Sudan.
- A SPLA-N rebel soldier, in South Kordofan (AFP)
South Sudanese Defence Minister Kuol Manyang Juuk disclosed that an African Union team would come to verify that his country is free of SPLM-N combatants, pointing that the latter moved its fighters from Raja, areas in Western Bahr El Ghazal province.
It was the first time that a South Sudanese official mentions the presence of SPLM-N rebels in the neighbouring country. The Sudanese army in the past years carried out air attacks on the area and accused Juba of harbouring Darfurian rebels.
SPLM-N negotiating team spokesperson Mubarak Ardol dismissed any presence of his group in the South Sudanese territory saying "The Movement has no presence at all in the territory of the Republic of South Sudan."
"The SPLM-N controls a liberated territory larger than Belgium and other countries in the heart of Sudan," he said pointing that this territory is inhabited by more than a million civilians. He added that their forces are at five kilometres from Kadugli the capital of South Kordofan State, and 24 km from the capital of the Blue Nile State El-Damazin.
In line with the peace agreement signed by the South Sudanese political forces in August 2015, the warring parties committed themselves to disarm, demobilize and repatriate the Sudanese rebel groups from the country.
In the past, UN and SPLM-IO rebels pointed to the participation of some Sudanese rebel groups from Darfur region in the fighting alongside the forces loyal to President Salva Kiir.