Bloomberg News

Wider Sudan War Would Be ‘Coordinated’ Against Army: SPLM

July 03, 2011

(Updates with Agar comments from the second paragraph.)

July 3 (Bloomberg) -- A wider war may erupt in northern Sudan if clashes in Southern Kordofan state are not resolved, and it would be “coordinated” against the Sudanese army, Malik Agar, governor of northern Sudan’s border Blue Nile state said.

The war could spread along the border with the south from Blue Nile state on the Ethiopia border in the east to the western Sudanese region of Darfur, Agar, who’s also the head of the northern branch of the south’s ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, told reporters today in Khartoum, Sudan’s capital.

“We are being candid in this; if a war erupted, everyone will be looking for allies,” Agar said. “The situation is very tense on the ground.”

Clashes between Sudanese government forces and units of Southern Sudan’s army in Southern Kordofan, northern Sudan’s only oil-producing state, have led more than 73,000 people to flee their homes since June 5, according to the United Nations. The fighting there and in the disputed border region of Abyei raised concern of a resumption of a two-decade civil war that ended in 2005.

The northern Sudanese states of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states and Abyei were key battlegrounds during the civil war between the north and the oil-rich south. The south is due to be declared independent next week.

Ripe for Clashes

Conditions are ripe for clashes to erupt in the Blue Nile state, between units of the south’s army and government forces, with are both currently on high alert, Agar said.

Authorities in Southern Sudan said fighting in Southern Kordofan broke out when the Sudanese army tried to disarm residents of the state, such as members of the Nuba ethnic group, who fought with the south’s army in the civil war. They accuse President Umar al-Bashir’s government of attempting to occupy disputed border areas before the south becomes independent on July 9.

“If they try to disarm our forces, then the same thing will happen in Blue Nile,” Agar said.

Agar and Yasser Arman, the secretary-general of the SPLM’s northern branch, will travel with other officials tonight to the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, for cease-fire talks with Sudanese government officials, the two men said.

The Sudanese government and the SPLM’s northern branch agreed on June 28 that southern-allied fighters from the northern states of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile would be integrated into the Sudanese army, though the details are yet to be worked out, according to the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel on Sudan, led by former South African President Thabo Mbeki.

Oil-Rich States

Southern Kordofan borders the oil-rich states of Unity and Upper Nile in Southern Sudan, which will assume control of about 75 percent of Sudan’s daily oil production of 490,000 barrels when it becomes independent. The crude is pumped mainly by China National Petroleum Corp., Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional Bhd and India’s Oil & Natural Gas Corp. Sudan is sub-Saharan Africa’s third-biggest oil producer.

The state accounts for about 115,000 barrels a day, according to Sudan’s minister of state for oil, Ali Ahmed Osman.

Al-Bashir’s government in Khartoum accused the Southern Sudanese army of starting the violence in both Southern Kordofan and Abyei.

--Editor: John Simpson

To contact the reporter on this story: Maram Mazen in Khartoum at mmazen@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net.


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