The vice president of the Government of Southern Sudan has asked that the U.N. Mission in Sudan [UNMIS] be renewed for another year. Riek Machar said Sudan could return to war if the United Nations ends its mandate after southern Sudan declares independence next month.
He said after that the situation in the north could deteriorate into what he called a Rwandan-type of genocide. Sudan consists of many ethnic groups, including southerners living in the north whose citizenship has not yet been determined.
UNMIS was established in 2005 to ensure that both sides comply with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement [CPA] , which was signed that year, ending two decades of civil war.
Machar expressed concern over the escalating violence in some areas along the border of northern and southern Sudan.
‘’We are concerned that if the UN withdraws from [the contested area of] Abyei [in] South Kordofan State and from Blue Nile State without the completion of the political process as stipulated in the CPA, there shall be a lot of confusion,’’ Machar said.
But early this month Sudan’s foreign minister, Ali Karti, wrote a letter to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon saying Khartoum wants UNMIS to leave by the end of its term on July 9. The United Nations said that decision will not be made by the Sudanese government.
Vice President Machar stressed that UNMIS should remain in Sudan until all the terms of the CPA are met. He said there are issues in the CPA that have not been addressed by the two parties. ‘’If it takes a year, the U.N. presence must be there so nothing goes wrong,’’ Machar said.
He commented on the presence of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) in northern states bordering the south, including Blue Nile State and Abyei in South Kordofan. He said the CPA calls for elements of the northern and southern armies to come together as Joint Integrated Units stationed in the two states to oversee a series of planned public meetings, known as popular consultations, that will determine their future place within Sudan. He said SPLA soldiers there come from those states and any attempts to expel them could be met with resistance.
‘’We are also saying since [some of] the soldiers are practically northern Sudanese and are from the two areas, it is their right that the political process which made them take up arms to fight be resolved first,’’ he said.
Machar called for the completion of the popular consultations and for new negotiations to further the integration into the northern army of southern soldiers from the Joint Integrated Units.
Khartoum had called for SPLA soldiers in northern Sudan to relocate to the south by June 1. After the deadline, fighting erupted between the SPLA and Sudan’s armed forces in Kadugli, the state capital of South Kordofan. Machar blamed the fighting on President Omar Al Bashir.
Machar also said he disagrees with parts of the draft constitution for South Sudan, though he denies promoting any alternative version to the document.