SUDAN WATCH: Southern Kordofan clashes blamed on well armed militias

Friday, January 16, 2009

Southern Kordofan clashes blamed on well armed militias

Reportedly, there are fleets of Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) going into southern Kordofan, especially eastern Jebel. SAF have more than six battalions with very big artilleries in the area.

Southern Kordofan is mainly occupied by the Nuba, various central highland communities and pastoralist Baggara Arabs comprising the Misseriya and Hawazma.

As noted here over the years at Sudan Watch, and on 07 December 2008 - Sudan’s Southern Kordofan problem might be the next Darfur:
Sudan's army told state media that it had information that a Darfur rebel group planned to attack the area.

The main party in the south says the military build-up is a violation of a 2005 peace deal that ended civil war.
The Joint Integrated Units [JIU] combine SPLA and northern troops deployed in Southern Kordofan in accordance with the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended a 20-year North-South civil war.

The JIU is not under Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), it is under the GoSS Presidency. A decision whether to increase JIU troops will have to be taken by the Presidency.

Sudan’s Southern Kordofan Problem: The Next Darfur?

Map source: BBC

From IRIN (JUBA) 16 January 2009 - SUDAN: Southern Kordofan clashes blamed on militias:
Clashes this week in Southern Kordofan, reportedly killing at least 16 people, followed attacks by militias on joint armed units deployed in accordance with the North-South peace agreement, a southern Sudanese military spokesman said.

"It is the militias doing all this," said Major General Daniel Peter Parnyang, a spokesman for the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA). "The whole thing started on 13 January. The first one was an ambush," Parnyang told IRIN in Juba on 16 January.

"This is [when] they killed one person from the Joint Integrated Units [JIU]. Then they attacked again in Khor [al-Dalayb village] where the JIU is deployed, killing another three."

The JIUs combine SPLA and northern troops deployed in Southern Kordofan in accordance with the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended a 20-year North-South civil war.

Without specifying the armed militias, Parnyang denied they were mere nomads. "We call them militias because these people are well armed," he added. "We are wondering how they got so armed."

Southern Kordofan is mainly occupied by the Nuba, various central highland communities and pastoralist Baggara Arabs comprising the Misseriya and Hawazma. About 289,000 people have returned to the state since 2005.

Although located north of the 1956 border separating North and South Sudan, many of its inhabitants fought with the SPLA during the war against the North.

Like Abyei, it continues to be a troublespot. In December, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement’s (SPLM) highest decision-making body, the Political Bureau, complained that the number of Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) had increased in the state.

According to the SPLM, the SAF doubled its troops in Abujabiiha and Mandi areas. Numbers of Northern Sudanese troops had also increased in areas of eastern Jebel, which was vacated by SPLA troops in mid-2008.

"We understand now that there are fleets of SAF going into southern Kordofan, especially eastern Jebel; we don’t know what their fears are," SPLM spokesman Jien Matthew Chol said in December, a day after the Political Bureau had resolved to send a team to the area.

"The only claim in SAF circles is that JEM [Justice and Equality Movement, a Darfur rebel group] is trying to attack the area, which is actually not very true."

Chol claimed the SAF had been in the area since November. "Now there are more than six battalions with very big artilleries," he said. The area was a key battleground during the North-South war.

"What are all these big artilleries for? At least this is an announcement of war against somebody."

Sara Pantuliano, research fellow with the Humanitarian Policy Group, recently described Southern Kordofan as a state in political turmoil.

Widespread insecurity, grievances about lack of access to services and employment and the blockage of pastoralist movement towards the South had led a number of Misseriya youth to resort to armed violence, she noted.

Asked if the number of JIUs would be increased in the area, Parnyang said the force was not under the SPLA command. "The JIU is not under us, it is under the Presidency," he said. "A decision whether to increase JIU troops will have to be taken by the Presidency."
SPLA soldiers in South Sudan

Photo: SPLA soldiers redeploy south from the Abyei area in line with the road map to resolve the Abyei crisis. Sudan. June 2008. IRIN file photo © Timothy Mckulka/UNMIS
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From Sudan Tribune - Fighting erupts in Nuba Mountains, 19 killed:
January 14, 2009 (KHARTOUM) – Armed irregular forces on Tuesday attacked Nuba villages and SPLA military camps in Southern Kordofan, a flashpoint in central Sudan where some of the heaviest fighting occurred during the 1983-2005 civil war.

The clashes reportedly killed 19 people, said the Sudan Organisation Against Torture (SOAT), naming seven of them.

According to SOAT, men from different clans within the Arabic-speaking Hawazma tribe, armed with advanced weaponry, launched an attack on Nuba villages and SPLA military camps in the area of Khor El Delib, Rashad locality, prompting SPLA to retaliate.

Other reports suggest that some 400 police and members of the Popular Defense Forces—the type of militias once mobilized for the war in South Sudan and now in Darfur—attacked the Joint Integrated Unit in Khor El Delib.

The Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) maintains forces in the area despite expectations that the former rebel group will eventually withdraw. That prospect appears unlikely as a military build-up continues in the area: in December 2008, the Sudan Armed Forces deployed more than six battalions in Southern Kordofan, said a SPLM spokesman, Yein Matthew.

The SPLA’s political wing in the area, meanwhile, is engaged in a struggle against Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party for control of the state government.

Among the dead from the clashes Tuesday are one SPLA soldier, Motasium Ismail Naim, a Tagoi from Al Faid, and six Hazama. These are Hamida Abdel Rahman, Abu Hamaid Gargar and Musa Tabig of the Hawazma-Togia from Khor Al Dalib; Ali Sayed Koba, a Hawazma-Togia from Al Fayed Umm Abdel alla; and Omer Al Mahboum and Bashair Omer Koko of the Hawazma from Al Fayed Umm Abdel alla.

South Kordofan’s state information minister, Ali Kuku, told Reuters that additional clashes took place in an area called Abre, resulting in nine nomads shot dead.

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