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Sudanese president declares state of emergency in border areas

April 29, 2012 (KHARTOUM) - Sudanese president, Omer Hassan al-Bashir on Sunday has declared the state of emergency in some cities of three states neighbouring the Republic of South Sudan.

al-Bashir inspects the guard of honour during his first visit to Kadogli capital of South Kordofan State August 23, 2011. (Reuters)

The presidential decree comes after heavy clashes between the Sudanese and south Sudanese armies over Heglig. The SPLA pulled out its troops on 20 April after controlling the oil-producing area for ten days.

The Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) are also battling the combatants of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – North (SPLM-N) and its allies from Darfur rebel groups mainly in South Kordofan and some parts of the Blue Nile state.

In accordance with the presidential decree signed on Sunday 29 April, the state of emergency covers cities in the three states of South Kordofan, Sennar and White Nile.

The state of emergency is already imposed in other states bordering the South Sudan including Blue Nile in the eastern half of the border like the above mentioned states. Due to the rebellion in Darfur, the state of emergency has been decreed in the western half of the boundaries since 2003.

Sunday’s decree refers to the large presidential powers in the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2001, and the Criminal Law of 1991. It further suspends articles in the Customs Act of 1986 allowing to ease administrative sanctions or to appeal judicial judgment against smugglers.

Since last year Sudan imposed a trade embargo against the South Sudan after accusing it of supporting a rebellion in the Nuba Moutians of South Kordofan, by the former members of Juba’s ruling party, SPLM.

The presidential decree came after a recent campaign carried out in the bordering states against smugglers who are compared to rebel groups because they trade with "the enemy" South Sudan.

The capture, earlier this month, of Heglig by South Sudanese army revived nationalist feeling in Sudan and allowed ruling National Congress Party to regain some popular support.

Analysts in Khartoum see the decree as aimed at combating food smuggling to South Sudan and giving the Sudanese army a free hand in pursuing rebel groups.

Sudanese lawmakers and some tribal leaders in the troubled state have called on President Bashir to declare the state of emergency since last year when fighting broke out in South Kordofan.

Two weeks ago, Sudanese Justice Minister, Mohammed Bushara Dosa told reporters that his ministry was directed by Bashir to establish special courts along the Border States with South Sudan.

The decree has also called to establish special primal courts and another one for appeals that oversees the court’s performance.

Fighting broke out in South Kordofan last year in June, after controversial gubernatorial elections won by the National Congress Party candidate Ahmed Haroun.

South Kordofan governor Haroun came under fire recently by many in his state and in the ruling NCP, who urged Bashir to replace him with a military governor for failing to combat the rebel groups in his state quickly.

Since, he moved his entire cabinet to Talodi, vowing to clean the city from rebel groups before to return to the capital Kadugli.

SPLM-N and the fighters of the rebel Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) attempted several times to seize Talodi which is located on the border with the South Sudan but the government repelled the attacks.

According to international agencies, the humanitarian situation in South Kordofan could soon turn into famine without outside help. But Sudan so far has rejected allowing foreign aid groups in.

Sudan has cited security concerns in severely controlling access for relief agencies but UN officials have repeatedly said they need full access - including to rebel-held areas - to properly assess the needs of the people.

(ST)