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Sudan President to hold meeting with SPLM’s Aggar

August 1, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – A high-profile meeting is due to be held within 48 hours between Sudan’s president Omer Al-Bashir and the chairman of the armed opposition Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), Malik Aggar, to discuss containment of military escalation in the country’s border state of South Kordofan, Sudan Tribune has learnt.

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Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir (L) and Malik Agar, head of the northern branch of the Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM)

Sudan’s government reneged on a framework agreement it signed last month with the SPLM in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on new political and security arrangements in South Kordofan, which degenerated into a state of war between Sudan army and SPLM/A fighters since 6 June.

The deal, which was brokered by the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel on Sudan (AUHIP), provided for the integration of SPLA fighters into Sudan army and recognition of the SPLM northern sector as a “legal political party in Sudan.”

President Al-Bashir later disavowed the deal, publicly faulting his negotiator and senior presidential assistant Nafi Ali Nafi and citing objections to the accord’s recognition of the SPLM in north Sudan.

Al-Bashir said the SPLM must conform to the requirements of political parties’ registration and ordered the army to sustain its military operations in South Kordofan until it is “purged” and SPLM’s leader in South Kordofan Abdul Aziz al-Hilu is “arrested.”

Informed sources told Sudan Tribune that Al-Bashir is expected to arrive within 48 hours in Al-Damazin town, the state capital of the Blue Nile, to meet Aggar who returned to the state he governs after a long period of absence.

Sudan Tribune’s sources added that the decisive meeting is expected to discuss the situation in South Kordofan and ways to end the conflict there.

The potential meeting of Al-Bashir and Aggar comes two days after Nafi Ali Nafi, who is also vice-president of Al-Bashir’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP), appeared to be softening his stance towards the SPLM, saying in a public rally that his party recognizes the SPLM as “an entity” in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

He, however, stopped short of saying that the former guerrilla movement is recognized as a countrywide political party.

On 21 and 22 July, the leadership of the SPLM’s northern sector held a meeting in South Kordofan and concluded that any future talks with the NCP over South Kordofan must be conducted through “a third party” and “outside Sudan.”

Yasir Arman, secretary-general of the SPLM, warned that the NCP’s attempt to wriggle out of the South Kordofan deal could lead to an all-out war engulfing all of Sudan’s marginalized peripheries of South Kordofan, Blue Nile and the already-restive region Darfur.

The fighting in South Kordofan erupted after Sudan army moved to carry out its earlier threats to disarm SPLA fighters in the area following the secession of South Sudan.

According to UN agencies, more than 72,000 people fled the fighting which intensified as Sudan army resorted to the use of aerial bombardment amid credible reports of ethnic targeting of South Kordofan’s African Nuba population.

A report produced by the UN Mission in Sudan concluded that “especially egregious” acts committed by SAF and its allied paramilitary forces in the course of the conflict amounts to “war crimes and crimes against humanity.”