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Sudan says deployment of army in flashpoint states “normal”

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July 10, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) has downplayed as “normal” the deployment of troops and military hardware by the country’s army in South Kordofan and the Blue Nile, two tense states bordering the newly independent South Sudan.

Sudanese soldiers shout slogans during the visit of President Omer al-Beshir (posters) to the town of Majlad in the south Kordofan province on May 20, 2009 (Getty Images)

Satellite imagery released earlier this month by the Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) has revealed that north Sudan army known as Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) had positioned four vehicles consistent with multiple-rocket launcher systems at a recently reinforced base within 65 kilometers of South Kordofan.

South Kordofan has been the scene of fierce battles between SAF and forces aligned with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), an offshoot of South Sudan’s ruling party, since 6 June.

The fighting, believed to be set off by SAF’s attempts to disarm SPLM fighters, has escalated into artillery and aerial bombardment, forcing as many as 75,000 people to flee their homes, according to UN figures.

According to Ibrahim Ghandur, the party’s media secretary, the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) were not amassing troops but deploying “normally” to safeguard the situation in these particular states as well as other border states.

The NCP official further ridiculed demands by the SPLM in North Sudan for the post of a defense minister in the government, saying it is just a just a propaganda and that the SPLM was not part of the government.

Gandur strongly rejected the announcement of the SPLM in the Blue Nile that they would not surrender their arms to anybody unless under a political agreement.

SPLM/A fighters in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan, whose population largely sided with the South during the second Sudanese civil war 1983-2005, were not properly integrated into SAF as stipulated under the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which ended the war.

“There is no way for talking about sharing of power and wealth under arms, the state is democratic” he said, adding that such announcement was “a clear breach” of the CPA and the democratic standards.

Gandur said that the issues of Blue Nile and South Kordofan were still one of the pending provisions of the CPA. However, he denied his party was engaged in any sort of negotiations over those issues with SPLM in Addis Ababa.

The NCP signed an accord with the SPLM in Addis Ababa this month setting the groundwork for ceasefire and political arrangements in South Kordofan. However, the deal collapsed later as it faced strong opposition by hard-line circles within the NCP.

(ST)

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