By Ngor Arol Garang
November 25, 2010 (ABYEI) – General Salva Kiir Mayardit, president of the semi autonomous regional government of south Sudan on Thursday said that he would not call for a reprisal attack against the northern army after an incident which the south says injured six people on Wednesday.
Four members of the southern army the SPLA and two civilians were critically injured when three helicopter gunships allegedly bombed an army base at Kiir Adem, an area located 45 miles away from Aweil North County, Northern Bahr el Ghazal state of Southern Sudan.
But Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party, who control Sudan’s air force, told Reuters that said the reports of the attack “were absolutely not true”.
The spokesperson of the Sudan Armed Forces, Al-Sawarmi Khaled renewed accusations that the SPLA are supporting Darfur rebel group the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). He further said that harboring Darfur rebels is a clear violation to the security arrangements agreed in the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).
Speaking from the regional capital of Juba, a top presidential aide, who did not want to be named, told Sudan Tribune that president Kiir stressed commitment of the southern government to conduct a peaceful referendum.
The official said Kiir made the statement in an emergence security meeting of the southern army’s military command council involving SPLA chief of General Staff, General James Hoth Mai and minister of SPLA affairs, Nhial Deng Nhial and other top military personnel at his residence in Juba on Thursday..
The top aide added that President Kiir, who is also commander in chief of the SPLA, asked the council not to be driven by emotions but rather stick to commitment of the SPLM – the political wing of the SPLA – not to be responsible for returning the country back to war. The last north-south civil war began in 1983 and ended with the CPA 2005.
January as part of the agreement the oil-producing south will vote on whether it will separate from the north. Registration for the referendum began on November 15 and ends on December 1.
The official said the SPLM leader was very clear and quoted him as saying “this is very difficult situation to deal with. We must handle it carefully so that we get out of it by all means because there are people whose immediate objective is to provoke us into war during this time of referendum registration process since they are aware that nothing would come out in their favor,”
According to the official Kiir told the emergency security meeting: “When I was in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Tuesday attending the 16th extraordinary submit on Sudan organized by inter-governmental Authority on development, IGAD, I told them prevalence of these provocative acts always by some senior officials in the national government.”
On Wednesday, the SPLA say two military aircrafts belonging to the Sudan Armed Forces bombed a military post belonging to the Sudan peoples’ Liberation Army, at Kiir Adem, Aweil North County in the southern state of Northern Bahr el Ghazal.
General Paul Malong Awan, Governor of Northern Bahr el Ghazal state on Thursday echoed position of the president of the semi autonomous regional government of south Sudan.
“Yes, I am told there were aerial bombardments. It was another regrettable incident. I am told two military aircrafts belonging to Sudan Armed Forces yesterday bombed a voter registration near one of the SPLA posts at Kiir Adem in Aweil North County. Four of our soldiers and two civilians whom iam told were on their way to the registration center have been wounded,” Governor Awan told Sudan Tribune from Khartoum, capital of Sudan
“This is the second time. The same military jet fighters attacked the same village last week. Eight civilians sustained injuries in the first attack and 6 people which i have mentioned before are said to have been wounded in the new attack. We thought the first attack was a mistake because they offered an apology but they repeated it again and denied it completely this time,” said governor Awan.
Awan, a senior official of the southern ruling party, the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM), said he would meet with officials from the central government to discuss with them. the issue
“I informed [the] President of the government of south about this incident and I am currently in Khartoum where I can bring it up to the attentions of relevant authorities so that we avoid another repeat,” said governor Awan.
He, however, said launching reprisal attack would not be in the interest of the local people.
“Such act provokes emotions requiring similar respond but I do not think doing so will be in the best interest of our people. Our people need peace. This is what we support not that we are not able to defend them but because it is important to live in peace for stability and development,” explained governor Awan.
Robert Majok Kuol, a member of the five member high executive committee charged with supervision of the south Sudan referendum processes in the state, said the bomb would negatively affect the registration processes.
“The registration processes for the referendum were taking place in the area when it was bombed and the civilians wounded yesterday were going to register in their center in Malual north,” said Majok.
The referendum official expressed concern that the aerial attack in the area could prevent prospective voters from going to register for the upcoming referendum.
“These attacks if they continue will discourage people living around this area. They could be scared to run away and that may have negative impact on the registration process in that center and surrounding areas. And, if it is not given immediate attention at the higher level and allow to continue beyond control they may develop into serious consequence on the whole process,” explained Majok
The south has recorded a large turnout with nearly a million people registering in the first week. Turn out in northern states has been lower with thousands of southerners returning to the south ahead of the referendum.