Tension in Sudan as Army Deploys Near Southern Region

Tension between the Sudanese government in Khartoum and the autonomous South Sudan region has been building up during the weekend as the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) deployed several battalions in the South Kurdufan district.

Officials in Khartoum confirmed the military deployment, claiming it had informed the government in South Sudan (run by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-SPLA) about the purpose of the move, the official Sudanese news agency SUNA reported.

The officials claimed they had assured the SPLA that the military deployment was aimed at deterring attempts by Darfur’s rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) from launching attacks in the region.

South Kurdufan is located south of Khartoum on the border with South Sudan and south-east of Darfur.

Sudan’s President Omar Al-Bashir last month declared a unilateral cease-fire in Darfur, but his army accused Darfur’s rebel movements of trying to exploit the truce to undertake military operations.

Officials in Khartoum claimed JEM planned an attack in Darfur and South Kurdufan in order to strengthen its position in future peace talks, the Sudan Tribune indicated.

Meanwhile, South Sudan’s SPLA accused the SAF of violating the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which forbids such military deployment in South Kurdufan and two other border districts.

“A military operation of this kind could be carried out by the Joint Integrated Units (JIU) of the SAF and SPLA,” SPLA spokesperson Yein Matthew told reporters.

The JIU will become the basis for the future Sudanese national army if the Sudanese people opt for unity between the country’s north and south in the 2011 referendum.


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