April 3, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - The leadership council of the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/North (SPLM-N) has cancelled the decisions of the Nuba Mountains Liberation Council (NMLC) and called to elect a new body to represent the people in the region.
Last month, SPLM-N deputy chairman Abel Aziz al-Hilu resigned from his position saying the secretary-general Yasir Arman disregarded his demand to include the self-determination in the agenda of peace negotiations.
On 25 March, NMLC, an SPLM-N political body in the South Kordofan announced its support of al-Hilu’s demand for self-determination and relieved Arman from his position as secretary-general and chief negotiator.
On Saturday, the NMLC decided to freeze negotiations for peace in Sudan until the settlement of internal divisions. The announcement came in less than 24 hours after a communiqué by the SPLM-N leadership announcing the end of five-day meetings in the Nuba Mountains to settle the differences.
In a statement extended to Sudan Tribune Monday, SPLM-N chairman Malik Agar said the NMLC was appointed by the Movement leadership, pointing the group has “discuss national issues that don’t fall within its powers” even before approving its internal regulations, saying the NMLC is not entitled to discuss these issues.
“At best, the NMLC can offer recommendations and observations to the national organs [of the Movement] after it approves its regulations and discuss its issues,” he said.
He pointed the regional body attempted to undermine the powers of the national institutions, stressing the “move caused severe damage to the Movement and its internal unity and political reputation”.
Agar added the NMLC set itself up as “parallel leadership body” without any constitutional or legal powers, saying Al-Hilu’s resignation is rejected and the “NMLC has no right to discuss or decides on it”.
He accused unnamed members of the NMLC of hijacking the group’s decision, saying some of them aren’t members of the NMLC “but they drafted the resolutions on behalf of the group a long time before its meetings convene”.
The rebel leader vowed to investigate this issue and hold accountable those responsible for the move, saying the leadership council received a report from the governor of Nuba Mountains, SPLM-N secretary general and the military command in the region stating they weren’t consulted on the NMLC decisions.
“The SPLM-N leadership council decided to cancel the entire decisions issued by the NMLC regarding the national organs and issues and that these decisions don’t entail any political or legal effect,” he said.
Agar added the appointed NMLC is a body that operates under the leadership of the SPLM-N and the regional leadership according to the constitution.
Regarding the peace talks with the government, Agar reiterated his movement’s position to give priority for the humanitarian issues over the political issues.
“The Movement renews readiness to negotiate the humanitarian issue immediately and underlines that it wouldn’t engage in political talks before delivering the humanitarian assistance to the needy,” he said.
He expressed SPLM-N readiness to meet the new U.S Administration at any time and place to discuss its proposal for resolving the humanitarian issue.
“The SPLM-N would only accept a comprehensive solution for the Sudanese issue that takes into consideration the peculiarities of the Two Areas and Darfur and meets the Sudanese demands and aspiration for change,” he said.
Agar added that “issues of self-determination and the two armies must be discussed seriously and at length within the SPLM-N organs and institutions and conferences to reach a unified agreement and vision”, saying the declared policies of the Movement mustn’t be changed in order to achieve this end.
He stressed his movement’s commitment to the unified vision reached with its allies in the Sudan Call, Sudan Revolutionary Front and the opposition forces seeking change.
South Kordofan and neighbouring Blue Nile states, also known as the “Two Areas” have been the scene of violent conflict between the SPLM-N and Sudanese army since 2011.
The African Union has been seeking to end the conflict for several years. However, talks between the two sides for a cessation of hostilities and humanitarian access are stalled since last August.
The SPLM-N demands to deliver 20% of the humanitarian assistance through a humanitarian corridor from Asosa, an Ethiopian border town.
But the government rejects the idea saying it is a breach of the state sovereignty and a manoeuvre from the rebels to bring arms and ammunition to their locked rebel-held areas in the Two Areas.
The SPLM-N last November declined an American proposal to transport humanitarian medical assistance directly to the civilians in the rebel-held areas in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan
JOINT COMMITTEE FOR THE TWO AREAS
Meanwhile, the leadership council announced the formation of a temporary joint committee to administer the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile states for a period of six months renewable.
According to the statement, the committee will be chaired by the SPLA Chief of Staff in the Nuba Mountains region while it will be headed by the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations in the Blue Nile.
It pointed the committee is tasked with taking decisions on national and critical issues besides security and political issues in the Two Areas upon a recommendation to the national leadership council.
The statement added that the leadership council decided to form a national liberation council which will discuss issues of interest to the SPLM-N at national levels.
Agar pointed that the posting of the SPLM-N issues on the social media has exposed the Movement to political, organisational, military and security risks, describing it as a clear violation to the institutional framework.
The statement pointed that the leadership council decided to dispatch delegations to explain the political and organisational situation to the SPLM-N membership in the liberated areas and the diaspora.
It added the SPLM-N chairman and the leadership council members have been tasked with contacting the political forces and the civil society to brief them on the internal situation of the Movement.
Agar further demanded the African Union chief mediator Thabo Mbeki to visit the SPLM-N controlled areas to consult with the war victims on the ground and to listen to the Movement institutions and the civil society.