The former Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLM) rebels are denying accusations by Sudan’s ruling party that the SPLM is contributing to the escalating tension in the oil-rich Abyei region. This comes after President Omar al-Bashir’s ruling National Congress party accused the SPLM of unilaterally appointing a governor over the region and sending troops to the town of Abyei. The ruling party said the SPLM’s action flouts the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which effectively ended the over two decades of war between the north and the south.
Yasser Arman is the spokesman for the SPLM. From the capital, Khartoum he tells reporter Peter Clottey that the accusations are unfounded.
“We didn’t appoint a governor. What we did as you know the issue of Abyei is only a protocol in the CPA, which is zero implemented. It has never been implemented; it was supposed to have been implemented three years ago. People are seeing this area without any services, without anybody to cater for their daily problems problem. We are appointed somebody from our party as a coordinator and as a supervisor, to supervise the daily issues of the people, but he is not a governor. The governor is only going to be appointed after we agree with the National Congress,” Arman noted.
He accused President Bashir’s government of arming and empowering a militia group, which he said is in violation of the CPA.
“As you know the government is harboring the militias all over the border area between the north and the south. And it is arming the militia in that area and it is refueling the situation and at the same time the National Congress is not ready to solve the issue of Abyei. The important thing is not exchanging accusations; the important thing is to resolve the issue of Abyei. If the issue of Abyei is not resolved, always there will be tension in that area,” he said.
Arman said the former rebels want a lasting solution to the controversy surrounding the oil-rich Abyei region.
“From our side the SPLM, we are ready to resolve the issue of Abyei today rather than tomorrow. It is for our benefit; we are beneficiaries in solving it. It is the National Congress, who have been dragging their feet for three years, and they didn’t want to give a solution. But we believe we should exploit the situation today to reduce the tension only through resolving the issue of Abyei amicably,” Arman pointed out.
He denied accusations by the ruling Sudan National Congress party that the SPLM is sending troops to the Abyei region.
“It is not true. It is absolutely not true. We don’t have troops in that area. There is a joint security unit in that area, which is composed from both the South Sudan Armed forces and the SPLA (Sudan’s People Liberation Army). But we don’t have a separate force. The SPLM appointed as a coordinator and to supervise whatever is going on in that area. We are only going to install a government when both of us agree” he noted.