Sudan: Darfur renews tensions between north and south Sudan

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Tensions have risen between Northern Sudan and Southern Sudan over Darfur. Northern Sudan charges southern leaders of supporting Darfur rebels against the north, while Southern Sudan say the north are just trying to stir up trouble ahead of southern independence in July.

Sudan is on the verge of splitting into north and south Sudan, however, the western region of Darfur, which will remain part of Northern Sudan, has faced its own rebellion against the north since 2003.

Darfur rebels continue to fight the government in the predominantly Arab and Muslim Northern Sudan. The governance of Darfur, especially the western part remains a contestable issue.

Ahead of a proposed referendum to determine the permanent administrative status of Darfur, northern Sudan, suspecting that Darfur rebels enjoy support from Southern Sudan, have warned that they would no longer tolerate such collusion.

Sudanese Media Centre charged that the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) of receiving military supplies from the government of south Sudan, saying the rebel group intended to open joint attacks against the Sudanese army.

Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM), which fought north Sudan for decades until a 2005 ceasefire denied any military assistance to JEM forces in Darfur and rather accused the north of backing rebel groups in the south. Paul Akaro, UK spokesman for SPLM, said it was “nonsense” to think the southern government would support the Darfur rebels.

“When we accused the north, we accused them on the basis of evidence. They are trying to impose instability in the south in order for them to continue pumping oil to the north – that’s unacceptable. Juba lacked the resources to support any military activities and it backed the peace process for Darfur,” Akaro told the BBC.

As far as Darfur, south and north Sudan goes, a referendum on how the Darfur region should be governed remains an issue. Earlier this month, a presidential committee authorized a proposal to add two new states to the region’s existing three, a move that still has to be approved by the local and national assemblies. But JEM, the most heavily-armed Darfur rebel movement have already condemned the proposal as a policy of divide and rule.

On Tuesday, Sudan’s official SUNA news agency reported that President Omar al-Bashir issued a decree that would pave the way for a referendum on how the Darfur region should be governed. JEM, however, slammed the move saying it would destroy the faltering peace talks.

According to the United Nations, at least 300,000 people have been killed in Darfur and 1.8 million people forced to flee their homes since non-Arab rebels first rose up against the Arab-dominated Khartoum regime in 2003. Tensions between north and south Sudan left some 1.5 million people dead over the past years.


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