UN must verify north-south Sudan clashes: party

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United Nations peacekeepers should be more active in monitoring violence in Sudan’s south ahead of an independence referendum next year, the oil-producing region’s main party says.

South Sudan won autonomy from the north of Africa’s largest country in a 2005 peace deal ending 22 years of civil war, and will vote in the referendum due in January 2011 on whether to become a fully independent nation.

Analysts believe the south is likely to secede in the vote.

Yasir Arman, a senior Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) official, said it had evidence President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s ruling northern National Congress Party was trying to destabilise the south by arming proxy militias in the semi-autonomous region.
“The United Nations should verify and should be present in all the places where there are violations of the security arrangements,” Arman told reporters.
“This is the mandate of the United Nations force here — they should take this mandate… seriously.”

The UN mission said it was committed to its mission. “We are discharging our duties according to our mandate,” UN spokesperson Ashraf Eissa said.

The peacekeeping mission was deployed to monitor a 2005 north-south peace deal ending Africa’s longest running civil war which claimed two million lives.

A shaky ceasefire has mostly held with sporadic fighting kept in check through a high-level joint defence body between the former foes.

Last month clashes between the south’s separate army (SPLA) and Darfuri Arab tribes along the disputed north-south border inflicted heavy casualties on both sides.

The SPLA accused a renegade commander of attacking an army base killing at least eight soldiers in Jonglei state last week.

Arman said al-Bashir’s ruling northern National Congress Party was using the Arab tribes to destabilise the south and delay the referendum.
“The government of south Sudan produced information that the NCP…are trying to destabilise the security in south Sudan,” Arman said in a news conference in Khartoum. He added SPLA renegade George Athor was receiving logistical support from outside the south, but did not specify from where.

Bashir’s National Congress Party was not available to comment. During the civil war, Khartoum supported militias to oppose the SPLA, but the party has denied doing so since 2005.

Arman urged the NCP to reinvigorate a joint defence body to calm any north-south clashes and to allow the United Nations access to tense border areas.
“The United Nations, in particular the Security Council, should put an eye on Sudan and make sure that the security arrangements do not collapse,” Arman said.

Sudan’s north-south war has raged on and off since 1955, fuelled by issues of ethnicity, ideology, religion and oil.

Pic: UN peacekeepers



Source: www.af.reuters.com