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SPLM-N Rift: Agar, al-Hilu fighters clash again in Blue Nile

August 15, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - A new round of fighting has erupted between the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/North (SPLM-N) factions in the Blue Nile as both sides exchanged accusations concerning responsibility for the bloody clashes.

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Malik Agar (File photo/ Reuters)

The SPLM-N is now divided into two factions: one in the Nuba Mountains led by Abdel Aziz al-Hilu and the other in the White Nile State led by Malik Agar. The rift emerged several months ago over the right of self-determination and other issues.

As a result of the rift between Agar and al-Hilu, the Blue Nile state witnessed last June tribal clashes between the Angsana of Malik Agar and the Uduk, an ethnic group supporting self-determination.

Reliable sources told Sudan Tribune that violent clashes have renewed earlier this week after force belonging to SPLMN-Agar crossed into an area controlled by fighters loyal to al-Hilu.

According to the sources, a number of fighters from both sides have been killed and others injured in the clashes, saying a significant number of residents have been displaced from Abu Nagro and Yabos areas.

The same sources said SPLMN-Agar forces attacked al-Hilu’s fighters led by Gen. Josef Tika in Yabos, saying 43 fighters from the attackers have been killed.

It added that SPLMN-al-Hilu forces seized 90 Kalashnikov rifles, 9 Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPG 7) and 9 machine guns.

According to the sources, the commander of SPLMN-Agar in Blue Nile Gen. Ahmed al-Umda dispatched additional reinforcements to the area on 14 August, saying however 7 more SPLMN-Agar fighters were killed in clashes with Tika’s forces in Ghafa area.

In a statement extended to Sudan Tribune, SPLMN-al-Hilu spokesperson in the Blue Nile Guma’a al-Hadi said Agar’s forces on Sunday attacked a village near Greater Yabos area.

He pointed the attackers burnt the homes of residents killing 4 of them, describing the incidents as “systematic tribal action”.

According to al-Hadi, their fighters chased the attackers until they resorted to the refugee camps, saying they left behind 20 dead and 30 injured.

For his part, Agar has accused al-Hilu of inciting the Christian Uduk ethnicity who had previously asked the Movement’s leadership to call for self-determination to join South Sudan.

He pointed they had convinced the Uduk to renege on their demand for self-determination and instead call for special arrangements to preserve their cultural rights and equal citizenship within the Blue Nile and a unified Sudan.

In a statement extended to Sudan Tribune, Agar accused al-Hilu of dividing the three sectors which comprise the Movement including the Blue Nile, Nuba Mountain and the Northern sector.

He held al-Hilu responsible for the internal war within the Movement, saying it was al-Hilu who promoted Joseph Tika to the rank of Lieutenant general and appointed him as his deputy.

Agar added the Khartoum regime is the only beneficiary from the divisions within the SPLM-N, saying the rift would weaken the Movement and the marginalized minorities in the Two Areas.

He said the bloody clashes are the natural result of al-Hilu’s attempt to impose a new leadership on the people of the Blue Nile, accusing the latter of seeking to falsify the will of the people of the Two Areas.

Agar called on both sides engaged in the internal fighting in the Blue Nile to form a neutral committee to investigate the clashes and develop joint agenda for the future.

The SPLMN-Agar leader reiterated his support for the right of self-government and the unity of Sudan on new bases, saying he wouldn’t mind taking part in a democratic discussion on the right of self-determination for the people of the Two Areas but not to impose that option by a coup.

The Sudanese army has been fighting the SPLM-N in the South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, also known as the Two Areas since 2011.

(ST)