Saturday, December 06, 2008

Northern Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) deployed to South Kordofan to ward off potential attacks by JEM

December 05, 2008 report by Skye Wheeler JUBA, Sudan (Reuters)
The ruling party of Sudan's semi-autonomous south said on Friday the north's armed forces were "unconstitutionally" building up troops in a volatile energy-rich area of central Sudan.

Yein Matthew, spokesman for the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), said the Khartoum government's army had deployed more than six battalions in the past three weeks in the province of South Kordofan, in what he said was a violation of a 2005 peace deal to end a two-decade war between north and south.

"We condemn that SAF (northern Sudan Armed Forces) troops are being taken into South Kordofan," he told reporters. "This is unconstitutional ... this should be discussed."

A spokesman for the SAF was not immediately available for comment. The north's ruling National Congress Party has repeatedly stressed its commitment to the peace deal.

Under the deal, SAF forces were to be reduced to pre-war levels in South Kordofan, one of three "transitional areas" bordering the south where large sections of the population supported the southern rebels during the war.

The International Crisis Group think tank said in October the 2005 peace deal was at risk in South Kordofan, which had "many of the same ingredients" that produced the raging conflict in the neighbouring region of Darfur.

Matthew said Khartoum had told the SPLM the troop build-up was designed to ward off potential attacks by the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), a Darfur rebel group.

The Sudanese government accused the rebel group of kidnapping nine Chinese oil workers in South Kordofan in October and killing five of them. The government has promised to beef up security around oil fields in the region.

Matthew, however, said such a task should be handled by joint military units of northern and southern soldiers created under the peace deal, and not by SAF troops.

Sudan produces around 500,000 barrels per day of crude oil, most of it from fields in central and southern provinces.

Northern troops have clashed with the former southern rebels since the peace agreement. In May, they fought in the oil-rich region of Abyei, adjoining South Kordofan.

Dozens of people were killed and 50,000 forced to flee their homes, amid fears a new civil war could erupt.

The peace deal gives the south a right to hold a referendum in 2011 on whether to secede and form an independent state, or keep its current status.
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December 06, 2008 article from Khartoum, Sudan published at Sudan Tribune December 07, 2008:
Sudanese government confirmed today the military build-up in South Kordofan state saying it had informed the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) about the aim of the move.

The official News agency SUNA said today that the government had sent strong assurances to the SPLA troops in Jawa area, South Kordofan State that the deployment of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) troops means to deter "feverish attempts" by the rebel Justice and Equality Movement to attack the region.

Yesterday a Sudan People’s Liberation spokesperson, Yein Matthew, told the reporters that SAF had deployed more than six battalions in the past three weeks in southern Kordofan adding that such a move constitutes a violation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. . Matthew also underscored that such military operation could be carried by the Joint Integrated Units from the SAF and SPLA, which are supposed to be the nucleus of the future Sudanese national army if the result of the 2011 referendum is for the unity f the country.

However, The Sub-Commission on the enforcement of security arrangements in Jawa, south Kordofan reaffirmed d that these statements are destined to develop adversarial climate and cause a rift between the SAF and SPLA, the agency reported.

Under the 2005 peace deal, the Sudan Armed forces were to reduced to pre-war level in southern Kordofan which is one of the three transitional areas.

Sudanese president declared last month unilateral ceasefire in Darfur, but the army accused the rebel movements of trying to exploit the truce to undertake military operations. Khartoum says rebel JEM plans attack in Darfur and southern Kordofan to strengthen its position in possible peace negotiations. (ST)

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