Sudanese armed forces continue to bomb parts of South Kordofan and Blue Nile state, charging that civilians are harboring rebels, who have been fighting Khartoum for more than a year.
Leaders of the Sudan People Liberation Movement North (SPLM-North) held a meeting in South Kordorfan earlier this week with civil administrators from areas in South Kordofan and Blue Nile State that are under their control.
American Ryan Boyette lives in South Kordofan. He worked for an NGO there, an organization that left when the fighting began. Boyette married a Nuba woman and decided to stay. He started Nuba Reports
, a website that describes itself as “a network of citizen reporters dedicated to covering the war along the Nuba Mountains.”
Boyette was at this week’s SPLM-North meeting. He spoke from South Kordofan via Skype, telling South Sudan in Focus editor Carol Van Dam the meeting was called to map out strategy, both militarily and politically.
It was all military commanders and civil administrators," he said. "The main reason they came together was to sit down through a democratic process and elect a council to oversee civil administration [and] deal with the problems of food and health administration in the areas they control."
Boyette said they decided at the meeting how the SPLA-North would defend the people living in South Kordofan and Blue Nile State in the coming year.
“Also, they decided how they would deal with these civil issues I mentioned before, taking care of their people," he said.
Boyette said it is clear the SPLM-North is preparing for a long fight. An agreement reached between the rebels and Khartoum earlier this month was supposed to pave the way for aid to reach the region. However, Boyette says that has not happened.
“The agreement said that there would be a temporary cease-fire between both sides so that humanitarian aid could be brought into the region. So far that has not happened," he said.
The Sudan government has continued bombing the border area, according to Boyette. He said an assessment team was also supposed to come to the area and assess the needs of the people.
“There’s no sign of an assessment team and there’s no sign of aid getting into the region,” Boyette said.
Boyette said all of the major players of the SPLM-North were at the five-day meeting.
“There was Alik Agar, the chairman of the SPLM-North. There was Yassar Arman, who is the secretary-general of the SPLM-North," he said. "They actually walked for two days to get to the meeting and walked two days to get out.”
Boyette said the meeting marks the first time all SPLM-North generals and civil administrators came together, in the war zone, in one place, since the fighing began in June, 2011. Boyette said he was invited to attend the meeting by SPLM North because of his website, Nuba Reports.