A leader of a Sudanese rebel movement says his group is ready to pause a bloody war with Sudan’s armed forces so that people affected by nearly two years of fighting can receive desperately needed humanitarian aid.
“The SPLM-North is ready to sign a humanitarian cessation of hostilities,” Yasir Arman, secretary general of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, said in an interview on a visit to Washington last week. “We are ready to make a cessation of hostilities that will save the civilian population, create a conducive environment for a political settlement and put an effective demilitarized zone between the north and the south.”
The war between the SPLM-North and Sudan’s armed forces in the states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, located north of the border between Sudan and South Sudan, has displaced hundreds of thousands of people and created a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions.
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s government has prevented humanitarian aid from reaching those affected by the conflict for fear the aid will end up in the hands of the rebels.
Gen. Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in another conflict in Sudan’s western state of Darfur.
Mr. Arman said the Sudanese leader is committing another war crime by bombarding civilians in South Kordofan and Blue Nile and denying them humanitarian aid.
“This is the ugliest humanitarian crisis in Africa today,” he said. “It needs the attention of the international community.”
The SPLM-North is a vestige of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, a southern rebel group that for decades fought a civil war against Sudan’s armed forces that left about 2 million dead.
South Sudan became an independent nation on July 9, 2011, and is led President Salva Kiir of the SPLM.
Political marginalization of the southerners who chose to stay in Sudan and broken promises by the Sudanese government in Khartoum to address their long-standing grievances lie at the heart of the conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
The SPLM-North has joined forces with rebel groups in Darfur to form the Sudan Revolutionary Front, which seeks to overthrow the Bashir government.
Mr. Arman said the alliance is interested in a “holistic solution” to the conflicts in Sudan and not the piecemeal approach favored by Khartoum.
“We want a solution that will bring democracy. Without transforming Khartoum you will not get any permanent peace,” he said. “It’s just like if the policies are wrong in Washington, they cannot be correct in California or Iowa.”
Emad Altohamy, Sudan’s top diplomat in Washington, said Khartoum will not accept talks with any rebel group that is working to overthrow the government.
“It is very hard to believe in the SPLM-North’s willingness to cease hostilities because it has exerted large efforts to establish the ‘new dawn’ front last month in Uganda to magnify the armed confrontation against the government of Sudan,” Mr. Altohamy said
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