Sudan: May 30, 2001

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: On May 28 Sudans two main rebel organizations agreed to merge: the Sudan People's Democratic Front (SPDF, run by Riek Machar) agreed to disband and become part of the SPLA. (The actual merger agreement said the SPDF would join the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, which is the political organization of the SPLA. In some press release you will see it named as the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement/Army, or SPLM/A.) As mentioned before on Strategypage, Machar was once the number two leader in the SPLA, but he had a falling out with SPLA leader John Garang. Machar defected to the Sudan government (Khartoum) in 1997 and for a while served as a Khartoum government official. He quit the government in February 2000 after Sudanese Army forces attacked SPDF soldiers in an incident in Unity state. This renewed alliance is a big blow to Khartoum, but it has been in the works for months. A government press release (May 29) said that the merger was not a surprise. On May 30 the government also denied the May 29 SPLA claim that SPLA forces had taken Deim Zoubeir. The SPLA countered with a claim that its forces had captured the garrison at Sopo (like Deim Zoubeir, also in the Bahr el-Ghazal province). The SPLA claimed it had completely destroyed a Sundanese government battalion. In a side note, the SPLA said that it was renamed Deim Zoubeir Deim Newsudan. Apparently Zoubeir was the name of a 19th century Arab slave trader.


 

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