January 15, 2008 ( JUBA) — Troops from northern Sudan are hiding in southern Sudan in defiance of a peace deal requirement to withdraw, a southern official said in the local press Tuesday.
“The information we have from different sources is that (the army) has abandoned their barracks but they still have forces in the bushes of the state,” Taban Deng Gai, governor of the southern Unity State told a state security meeting, The Citizen newspaper reported.
The southern army deputy chief of staff Major General Hoth Mai also said northern troops were still present in the south.
Tuesday, the south said northern troops had left occupied areas in the oil- rich south as part of a deal that brought southern ministers back to the unity government after resigning in October.
Troops from the ex-rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Army had started heading south ahead of an initial July 9, 2007 deadline, but halted their movement at signs that the northern troops were not reciprocating.
Thursday, Mai said the former rebels had been moving in the past month but that the withdrawal had been tough owing to the absence of roads.
He said the withdrawal of 7,000 troops from Blue Nile, a northern state that borders the south, is “100% complete.”
The ex-rebels also had 5,000 troops in the Nuba Mountains. Hoth said their withdrawal was complete save for less than 100 troops, who would reach the southern areas late Thursday or Friday.
Transport problems have also slowed the march of northern troops to their side of the border. They have been moving since Jan. 7, but some were reported to have reached the border only Wednesday.
As both sets of troops continued to slog it out through the jungle, the respective withdrawals were deemed officially complete on Jan. 9, to coincide with the third anniversary of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended Africa’s longest-running civil war.