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SPLM-N Rift: Agar rejects army command decision to side with al-Hilu

SPLM-N leader Malik Agar (2L) attends a graduation ceremony for SPLA-N fighters in Blue Nile State on 29 January 2017 - (ST photo)
June 17, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - The Chairman of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North Malik Agar (SPLMN-Agar) has rejected the decision of the Movement’s army command to take the side of the Nuba Mountains Liberation Council (NMLC).

Earlier this month, the NMLC, an SPLM-N regional body, decided to install the SPLM-N Deputy Chairman Abdel-Aziz al-Hilu as temporary chairman of the Movement and relieved Malik Agar from the leadership of the armed group together with the Secretary General Yasser Arman.

The command of the SPLA-N including Chief of Staff Gagod Mukwar has held a two-day meeting on June 15 and 16 in the SPLM-N controlled areas in the Nuba Mountains and declared its support to the NMLC’s decision, according to a letter extended to Sudan Tribune by the SPLMN-Agar with its statement.

In a statement released Saturday, Agar rejected the SPLA-N decision, saying such strategic decisions shouldn’t be confined to “a limited group or even an entire region”.

Agar pointed that he and Arman have received the decisions signed by the army command and officers from the First Front (Nuba Mountain) who attended the meeting, saying the outcome of the meeting wouldn’t resolve the Movement’s crisis.

He said neither the NMLC nor the SPLA-N command has the right to exclude the rest of the Movement’s organs.

“If we accept [the position of the SPLA-N command] because of their military weight or for any reasons, we should then accept the regime’s actions to exclude us due to its military strength,” he said.

Agar stressed rejection of all forms of exclusion irrespective of its source, saying they wouldn’t decide on the future of the Movement alone “because it wouldn’t help establishing a national democratic movement and has nothing to do with the New Sudan project”.

He added the army’s “siding with al-Hilu whatever its causes will neither resolve the Movement’s crisis nor will it lead to an actual confrontation with the ruling National Congress Party”.

Agar further accused al-Hilu of holding contacts with unnamed parties who seek to see the SPLM-N as a regional, not national movement, saying they wouldn’t take part in the proposed extraordinary conference to elect a new leadership in July.

Last March, the NMLC supported al-Hilu’s demand for self-determination and decided to sack Yasir Arman from his positions as secretary-general and chief negotiator of the rebel group. Recently they decided to sack Agar for his rejection of their previous decisions.

The endorsement of self-determination at the time was seen as a total shift from the historical agenda of New Sudan, but al-Hilu group says they would no longer hold the call for a secular and democratic state in Sudan and prefer to focus on their region.

Asked by the BBC Africa on Friday if he is against the right of self-determination for the Nuba Mountains, Agar said in principles he was not opposed to that demand but the dynamic and the timing are not in favour of such move.

"The people of the Nuba Mountains are 2.9 of which 1.9 are not Nuba so we are seeing the consequences of this when it comes to one man one vote," he stressed.

In his statement of Saturday, Agar pointed that the SPLA-N extraordinary conference is based upon a coup and it excludes important SPLM-N sectors in the Blue Nile, northern states and the Diaspora.

“They won’t allow for preparing the documents [of the conference] or agreeing on a consensual preparatory committee. The [conference] began by issuing decisions to prevent SPLM-N leadership from entering the liberated areas,” he said.


Agar added that he and Arman will contact all “SPLM-N members who rejected the NMLC decisions in order to start a new march to rebuild the Movement on the basis of the New Sudan vision for all Sudanese”.

“We wouldn’t participate in any talks or contacts with the Khartoum regime and we will focus on rebuilding the Movement on new bases and the true future of the SPLM-N lies on the removal of the current regime and establishing a democratic regime for all Sudanese,” he said.

Agar, reiterated his proposal to step down with al-Hilu and Arman and to appoint a temporary leadership tasked with the preparation for the general conference including Maj Gen Gagod Mukwar, Maj Gen Ahmed al-Umda, and to appoint Maj Gen Izat Koko as Chief of Staff while Mohamed Ahmed Omer al-Habob be appointed as secretary general.

South Kordofan and the neighbouring Blue Nile state have been the scene of violent conflict between the SPLM-N and Sudanese army since 2011.

The decision of the military command in the Nuba Mountains to side with al-Hilu is seen as the second step in the breakaway process within the largest rebel groups in the Nuba Mountains and the Blue Nile.

Observers agree that it would frustrate the African Union brokered process which has from now onwards to consider dealing with two rebel groups and to review its plans accordingly.