North-South Conflict: SPLA Denies Supporting Rebels

South Sudan’s army has denied any involvement in fighting at its northern border with Sudan.

 By James Deng Dimo
WAU, 06 November 2011 [Gurtong] - The SPLA spokesman Philip Aguer has instead blamed the Khartoum government for the clashes.

“The Khartoum government is aware that it caused the crisis itself and now they are looking for someone to blame. The rebels don’t need anyone to help them”, he said.

The comments came after reports that Sudan has lodged a fresh complaint with the UN Security Council detailing South Sudan’s alleged support for rebels in its war-torn border states, just four months after separation, state media reported on Saturday.

Sudan’s UN ambassador Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman, provided “detailed, confirmed information explaining the support of the government of the south for the rebels in South Kordofan and Blue Nile”, the SUNA news agency reported.

It is the second time Khartoum has addressed such complaints to the Security Council since southern independence in July, reflecting the fragile relations between the former civil war enemies.

The letter accused Juba of supplying the rebels in Blue Nile State with “anti-aircraft missiles, tanks, mines, guns and ammunition,” as well as “an infantry battalion to strengthen the insurgency in Kurmuk.

The Blue Nile rebel stronghold, which straddles the border with Ethiopia and is also close to South Sudan, was overrun by the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) on Thursday, after two months of conflict in the politically divided state.

The letter, which was delivered to the president of the UN Security Council, also claimed that South Sudan is sheltering a large number of rebels who fled from Blue Nile south of the border to the town of Renk.

Blue Nile and nearby South Kordofan both have strong historic ties to the south and were key battlegrounds in the devastating 1983-2005 conflict between Khartoum and the SPLA, the former southern rebels turned regular army of South Sudan.

Observers have warned that the fighting there risks dragging the two countries into an all-out proxy war and torpedoing bilateral talks on key outstanding issues.

Fighting has raged in Sudan’s volatile border states since June, apparently sparked by the army’s insistence on disarming indigenous Nuba troops in South Kordofan not under its control, as Khartoum moved to assert its authority within its new borders.

The conflict spilled into Blue Nile state three months later.


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