A prominent member of Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) says his group is satisfied with an agreement signed with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) to resolve the conflict in South Kordofan state.
Rabie Abdelati Obeid also insists Khartoum reserves the right to maintain peace and security in the area, ahead of southern Sudan’s July 9 independence. He said South Kordofan, a border state, belongs to the north.
“Our forces control the whole area of Southern Kordofan,” said Obeid. “It is the responsibility of Sudan Armed Forces and [other] security forces to control the borders to achieve peace and security for the people there.”
His comments follow reports that the agreement is causing friction within the NCP.
Some reportedly see a contradiction between the agreement’s call for a cease-fire and the order by President Omar al-Bashir to continue removing rebels from the state.
Local media quoted President Omar al-Bashir as saying, “We order the armed forces to carry on its operations and not to stop until South Kordofan is purged as Abyei was purged before.”
Obeid said the northern government has the mandate to protect residents of South Kordofan.
“There is [no] relationship between Southern Kordofan and Southern Sudan,” said Obeid. “This [Southern Kordofan] is in the jurisdiction of our government, to create an environment for a peaceful life for the people and to bring [them] tranquility to practice their normal life.”
Signed last week in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, the agreement provides a framework for the security and political arrangements in South Kordofan. It also calls for a cease-fire as negotiations to end the conflict continue.
Northern and southern forces have clashed in recent weeks in South Kordofan as well as in the contested, oil-rich area of Abyei.
The United Nations says the fighting has displaced tens of thousands of people.
Analysts say South Sudan’s upcoming independence may be causing anxiety among residents in the north, which they say will be of a concern to senior officials of the NCP.
Meanwhile, President Bashir plans to attend the independence ceremony for South Sudan Saturday, despite the tension and fighting between Khartoum and newly independent state.