|Salva Kiir will declare South Sudan an independent state on Saturday|
Thursday, 7 July 2011
Sudanese troops mass near border as South Sudan prepares for independence
With just days until Africa sees its newest state born, violence continues in Sudan's northern border state of Southern Kordofan.
The Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) has identified an apparent massing of northern troops in Southern Kordofan's capital, Kadugli. There appears to be a convoy with Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) vehicles and artillery stretching two kilometres in length, and manned by approximately 1,000 troops.
SSP has also released satellite imagery from Monday 4th July which shows SAF aircraft and helicopter gunships at the Kadugli airfield, which seems to support reports that SAF had used helicopters to hunt Nuba people in Southern Kordofan's Nuba Mountains region.
According to UN reports, over 70,000 people have fled the state since violence began in early June, many of whom have crossed into what will soon be South Sudan.
A UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) report issued on 5th July confirmed violence in and around Kadugli every day from 30th June to 5th July, which suggests the situation is not getting any less volatile.
While there have been rumours that the agreement between Sudan's ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and the northern sector of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM-N) that was signed in late June in Addis Ababa, had collapsed, the NCP has insisted it is holding.
A NCP spokesperson said that Sudan's President Omar Al-Bashir had met with former South African president Thabo Mbeki, who has led the African Union mediation efforts, which showed that the agreement was still being upheld.
Mbeki told reporters that he met with Sudan's President Omar Al-Bashir on 6th July to discuss Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile.
The Addis Ababa agreement said the NCP would recognize the SPLM-N's right to continue "as a legal political party in Sudan." Al-Bashir said on 4th July that the SPLM-N had yet to conform to laws on creating political parties, and therefore could not yet be recognised.
While the agreement dedicated both sides to working on a ceasefire agreement, on Friday, 1st July, Al-Bashir instructed the SAF to continue military operations in Southern Kordofan, according to the Sudan Tribune.
It is alleged that northern forces have been targeting the Nuba people, many of whom fought on behalf of the SPLM/A during Sudan's two decade long civil war.
The 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement which brought the civil war to an end established the process by which South Sudan will now become independent. But very little, other than ill-defined popular consultations, was specified for those in the north who had fought against Khartoum.
In the run up to the South's independence, southerners in the northern army have been being dismissed. The final group will be dismissed in a 'dismissal ceremony' on 7th July.
According to SAF spokesman Al-Sawarmi Khalid Sa'ad, all of the dismissed had received their full financial and pension entitelements.
Sa'ad was scathing in regards to the SPLA's actions in the north, and said that SPLA fighters from the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile were dismissed without financial entitlement or moral support.
“The SPLA left the northern Sudanese who fought alongside it to face an unknown future”, Sa'ad said.
South Sudan has planned considerable celebrations for Saturday 9th July, when they will declare their independence. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said he will attend.
Sudan's Al-Bashir announced on 7th July that he planned to attend.
The US has announced it will send a delegation that includes a number of high ranking diplomats and military figures and will be headed by US envoy to the UN, Susan Rice. There was originally speculation that US President Barack Obama would attend, but it does not appear this will happen.
While South Sudan will be an independent nation as on Saturday, it still has not resolved a number of issues with the north, including border demarcation, ownership of Abyei, and how to deal with oil revenues.
Sources: Egyptian Gazette, Satellite Sentinel Project, Sudan Tribune, Sudan Vision, Times of India, UN OCHA
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