April 8, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - The Deputy Chairman of the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/North (SPLM-N) Abdel-Aziz al-Hilu has downplayed rejection of the Nuba Mountains Liberation Council (NMLC) decisions by the Movement’s leadership council.
- Abdel-Aziz Adam al-Hilu (Reuters)
Last month, 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. It also decided to freeze peace talks with the government until the internal divisions were settled.
However, SPLM-N leadership council cancelled the NMLC decisions, saying the group has “discussed national issues that fall beyond its powers”.
It also called to elect a new body to represent the people in the region, saying the regional body was appointed by the Movement leadership.
In an interview with Aayin news website published Saturday, al-Hilu said the NMLC meetings were held with the knowledge and approval of the SPLM-N chairman and the secretary-general.
He said the leadership council claimed the NMLC is an illegitimate body because its decisions and recommendations have contradicted with the interests of some parties, stressing the council represents the people of the Nuba Mountain and that is “the greatest source of legitimacy”.
Al-Hilu pointed out the leadership council itself was not elected and therefore has no right to question the legitimacy of the NMLC decisions, saying the delegates of the region are entitled to discuss all issues and policies adopted by the leadership.
He ruled out that the recent disagreements would cause a split within the Movement, stressing the SPLM-N have a clear vision and objectives.
Commenting on the NMLC decision to appoint a new negotiating team, al-Hilu said the whole issue lies on how to define the objective to be achieved from the negotiating process, pointing “when we agree on a clear objective then it doesn’t matter who represents the Movement or who leads the negotiating team”.
When asked about his call for the self-determination, al-Hilu said the Movement calls for “voluntary unity” as a basic stance to establish a new democratic, secular and unified Sudan, pointing if we failed to achieve this goal we would opt for the self-determination.
He stressed the Movement doesn’t care about the stance of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) towards the call for self-determination, saying the latter would likely reject it “because self-determination is a democratic mechanism that strips its domination”.
Al-Hilu further said the call for self-determination is an attempt to address the root causes of the crisis in order to achieve effective solutions that would end the war, pointing the people in the Nuba Mountains have the right to call for independence but priority is now given to achieving just unity.
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.