Sudan: Peace Deal Promptly Collapses

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October 19, 2012: Sudan claimed that 662 people have been killed in Blue Nile and South Kordofan states since Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) rebels began fighting in June 2011. The estimate was dismissed by several observers who said that many more people (ie, civilians) have been killed because of the Sudanese Army’s scorched earth tactics. The SPLM-N called it an outright lie. Refugees in South Sudan have reported attacks on villages by the Sudanese Army that indicate several thousand people (at least) have been killed, though refugee reports are often exaggerated. However, barrage rocket, artillery, and air attacks on villages have been documented (some of the attacks have been documented by satellite imagery). The number of refugees fleeing Blue Nile and South Kordofan is an indication of just how intense the fighting has been. The latest figures indicate that between 190,000 and 220,000 refugees from these states are now in South Sudan. The government estimate did not distinguish between rebel fighters, government soldiers and police, and civilians.

October 18, 2012: South Sudan has begun producing oil again, in at least one field. The government reported that it will resume exporting oil within 90 days, possibly by mid-December. The new exporting agreement has South Sudan exporting oil through Sudanese (north Sudan) pipelines.

October 17, 2012: A UNAMID (UN-African Union Mission in Darfur) peacekeeper was killed and three wounded in an ambush on the road between the towns of Kutum and Hashaba (North Darfur state). The attackers used mortars and machine guns to attack a UNAMID convoy. In September the government of North Darfur state had declared a state of emergency in Kutum. Those attacks were likely made by a unit of the Sudanese Central Reserve Forces (Abu Tira). The Abu Tira’s are reserve police security units that often operate with local pro-government militias.

The president of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, responded to rumors of a military coup by meeting with all Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA) officers assigned to the capital city, Juba. Kiir told the officers that the international community would not recognize the legitimacy of a military regime in South Sudan. This was the second time Kiir has met with officers and soldiers and discussed rumored plots against his government. The alleged leader of the coup plot is Major General Simon Gatwec, but friends of Gatwec claim that he is being used as a scapegoat.

October 16, 2012: The hi-tech watch-dog group, Satellite Sentinel Project, presented evidence that Sudanese government security personnel plundered then burned a village in South Kordofan’s Nuba Mountains region in May 2012. The evidence included video footage.

October 15, 2012: Demonstrators from South Sudan's Northern Bahr el Ghazal state and Unity state protested in South Sudan’s capital, Juba, against the new peace and oil production agreement negotiated between South Sudan and Sudan. The demonstrators voiced disapproval of the 14-mile wide Safe Demilitarized Buffer Zone (SDBZ) in Northern Bahr el Ghazal. The Northern Bahr el Ghazal demonstrators claimed that the zone encroaches on their land. The demonstrators from Unity state claimed that the South Sudan government had basically given the disputed Heglig area to Sudan. Many South Sudanese refer to the Heglig area as Panthou. South Sudanese police forces broke up the demonstration.

October 14, 2012: Sudanese troops and SPLM-N rebels in South Kordofan state fought a battle in the village of Umm Dehelib outside the town of Talodi. SPLM-N guerrillas attacked the village. Both sides declared victory. SPLM-N is a member of the SRF, which serves as an umbrella group for several rebel movements in Sudan.

The rumor mill in Juba, South Sudan, claimed that a senior South Sudanese army general was plotting a coup that would topple the government. The alleged leader of the coup plot is Major General Simon Gatwec who is supposed to have ties to rebel forces in Jonglei state. A government source later claimed that Gatwec was arrested on October 11. 

October 11, 2012: SPLM-N rebels in Sudan's South Kordofan state said they would continue to fight against the Sudanese forces despite the new agreement between Sudan and South Sudan. The agreement addressed several issues, including support by both governments for rebel groups operating in the other country’s territory.

October 10, 2012: Sudan expelled a Norwegian diplomat after Norway expelled a Sudanese diplomat on charges of spying. Norway claimed the Sudanese diplomat was spying on Sudanese refugees in Norway.

Sudanese warplanes and ground troops attacked SPLM-N positions outside the city of Kadugli, capital of South Kordofan state.

October 9, 2012: Details of the new agreement between Sudan and South Sudan have been released. The agreement is referred to as the Addis Ababa Cooperation Agreement (it was negotiated in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia). The African Union and UN will help operationalize the new demilitarized zone between Sudan and South Sudan. The zone will be called the Safe Demilitarized Buffer Zone (SDBZ) and will be administered by the Sudan-South Sudan Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism. The SDBZ is 14 miles wide and is called The 14 Mile Area. Where the center of the area lies is not (yet) quite clear. The agreement also calls for a ten kilometer demilitarized zone in border areas which are not disputed. The Sudans agreed to settle disputes over five areas along the border. The resolution mechanism begins with a panel of border demarcation experts issuing an opinion on each dispute. If the Sudans fail to agree with the expert opinion, the disputes will be taken to arbitration.

October 8, 2012: SPLM-N rebels shelled Sudanese Army positions in the capital of South Kordofan state, Kadugli. The Sudanese government claimed that seven civilians were killed in the attack and another 20 were wounded. The SPLM-N said that it regretted any civilian casualties but that it has forces on the outskirts of Kadugli and that the mortar attack targeted Sudanese military positions.

October 3, 2012: Four UNAMID peacekeepers were killed in an attack near the town of Geneina (Darfur area, near the Chad border). The peacekeepers were Nigerian soldiers.

September 27, 2012: The presidents of Sudan and South Sudan reached an agreement that both sides said they hope will end the fighting that began in April 2012. The agreement is complex and it addresses oil production and export, trade between the Sudans, and several security issues. The most controversial element is the demilitarized zone the agreement establishes which will separate Sudanese and South Sudanese forces…maybe. The agreement is clearly a partial agreement and what is missing parts could lead to another round of war. The agreement does not address the disputed Abyei region nor does it address the civil war in Sudan’s Blue Nile and South Kordofan states. Many of the rebels in both states have said they would rather be part of South Sudan than Sudan. Both states border on South Sudan. Still, the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), which sponsored and mediated the negotiations, did manage to get the two Sudans to reach an agreement that should get South Sudan’s oil flowing again, within three to six months, according to industry experts. Oil is a mutual interest. Both nations depend on oil exports for hard currency. (Austin Bay)

 

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