N.Sudan: UN should leave volatile border area

AP News
Posted: Jul 03, 2011 11:29 AM
N.Sudan: UN should leave volatile border area

Sudan's northern government expects United Nations peacekeepers to leave a volatile border state immediately after Southern Sudan becomes independent next weekend, an official said Sunday, a move could leave tens of thousands of southern-supporting civilians without U.N. protection.

Fighting erupted last month between northern troops and southern-aligned forces native to South Kordofan who hail from a black African ethnic group that opposes the rule of Sudan's Arab north.

The Nuba people _ black Africans who have opposed the rule of Sudan's Arab north _ have streamed into the Nuba Mountains in search of safety from attacks by Sudan's military in Southern Kordofan, a part of Sudan's north that borders Southern Sudan, which will become the world's newest country on July 9. According to the UN, at least 73,000 have fled since early June.

An internal U.N. report has said that dozens have been killed by aerial bombardments and gunfire attacks amid reports of door-to-door searches for black Nuba tribesman by the northern military. Because the U.N. and other aid groups cannot access the area, there are no firm numbers.

Western advocacy groups have warned that the northern government is attempting ethnic cleansing and even genocide against the Nuba people, who were targeted in the 1990s in government-sponsored violence that left as many 200,000 Nubans dead.

Northern government spokesman Rabie A. Atti told The Associated Press that the U.N. should leave South Kordofan immediately after the independence day, and said the northern army could secure the area on its own.

"I don't think there is any reason for U.N. forces to stay in the north after the CPA and (southern) secession," he said, referring to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, a 2005 peace deal that ended more than two decades of north-south war.

The CPA provided for Southern Sudan's January independence vote and in 2005, it ushered in a six-year "interim period" during which a 10,000-troop strong U.N. mission helped monitor the implementation of the peace deal and enforce the cease-fire between the northern and southern armies.

A U.N. spokeswoman in Juba said she could not say what the U.N. might do, because such a decision would be made by the U.N. Security Council.

Atti said U.N. forces have done "nothing" to improve peace and security in Sudan. He also said that the prolonged stay of U.N. peacekeeping forces in northern Sudan "will escalate and not solve the problem."

After the oil-rich south secedes, Atti said the northern government and army are "capable to preserve our security and peace."

But the upcoming split will leave many unresolved issues between the two countries, including oil rights and wealth-sharing. Representatives from both sides spent weeks negotiating last month in Ethiopia's capital.

The northern and southern governments signed an agreement in Addis Ababa on Tuesday calling for the disarmament of southern-aligned forces in South Kordofan and in the nearby northern border state of Blue Nile.

But on Friday, Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir said the army would continue its campaign in South Kordofan, making a cease-fire before July 9 more unlikely.

The north's moves have prompted concerns from diplomats.

A Juba-based Western official told the AP on Sunday that the U.S. State Department issued a directive on Wednesday to all American embassies calling on U.S. diplomats to urge their host governments to put pressure on Khartoum to accept a continued U.N. presence in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states after July 9. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to journalists.

  • Tags:
  • UN