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SPLM-N RIFT: Nuba body appoints Hilu as leader of S. Kordofan rebels.

June 7, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - The Nuba Mountains Liberation Council (NMLC), an SPLM-N political body in the South Kordofan State on Wednesday has decided to remove Malik Agar from the leadership of the group and replaced him by his deputy Abdel Aziz al-Hilu.

The move, which has all the characteristics of a split in the rebel group, has deepened the crisis that emerged last March when al-Hilo resigned from his position as a deputy chairman accusing the secretary-general Yasir Arman of disregarding his demand to include the self-determination in the agenda of peace negotiations.

Following what the NMLC announced its support of al-Hilo's demand for self-determination and relieved Arman from his position as secretary-general and chief negotiator.

Agar and Arman sought to contain the move and held a series of meeting with the NMLC and the military command of the group led by the SPLA-N Chief of Staff Jacod Mekouar.

Following a meeting held in the Nuba Mountains, the South Kordofan body issued a number of decisions signed by the NMLC chairman, Omer Rambawi, providing the removal of Agar from his post as chairman of the Movement and general commander of its Army.

The Nuba council also decided to prevent Agar and Yasir Arman's entry to the SPLM-N controlled areas in South Kordofan State.

On the other hand, the council formally appointed Abdel Aziz Adam al-Hilu as the Movement's leader and general commander of the SPLA-N and entrusted him to complete the national structure of the movement until the general conference.

The final communique of the meeting of the regional Liberation Council provided the merits of the removal of Agar and Arman, citing their refusal to include the right of self-determination for the Nuba Mountains in negotiations with the government. Further, it pointed to Agar's rejection of the previous NMLC decisions related to Arman's dismissal from his positions and accused Agar of being behind the recent clashes in the SPLM-N held areas in the Blue Nile state.

"STAGING INTERNAL COUP"

In a lengthy internal message addressed to the SPLM-N and SPLA-N commanders, civil administrations in the Two Areas, on Monday, Agar has accused his deputy al-Hilu of seeking to divide the Movement and its Army and install himself as chairman of the SPLM-N.

In the internal note seen by Sudan Tribune , the SPLM-N chairman further described details of the differences within the SPLM-N.

He said that al-Hilu, despite his resignation, continued to work at a feverish pace to create internal dissent and install himself as chairman of the Movement, disclosing the latter has once again sent a message to the Nuba Mountains calling to hold another meeting for the NMLC.

"In addition to being illegal, this call will aggravate the situation and won't lead to solutions. We are aware of all the decisions he intends to make, including the appointment of a new chairman and new leadership and assistance," he said.

"As chairman of the Movement, and with me the current secretary general, we decided not to run for any executive office at any future SPLM-N conference and to support a new generation of leaders and the unity of the SPLM-N," he added.

Agar accused al-Hilo of seeking to stage a coup within the movement's organs, saying he tried hard to use the ethnic and tribal contradictions to achieve that end.

He added the internal fight within the SPLM-N ranks in the Blue Nile was a product of al-Hilu's recent actions, saying he actively sought to ignite tribal difference among the Movement's leadership and members in the state.

Agar further warned against repeating the same scenario in the Nuba Mountain.

Late last month, clashes erupted in the Blue Nile between SPLM-N fighters and breakaway factions who declared the dismissal of Agar. The fighting later moved to refugee camps where each party sought to mobilise supporters along tribal and ethnic lines.

At the time, the SPLM-N described the fighting as an attempt to overturn the entire political and military heritage of the Movement and its vision and transform it into a regional movement, saying the behaviour of this group is more dangerous than the war against the government.

South Kordofan and the neighbouring Blue Nile state, also known as the Two Areas have been the scene of violent conflict between the SPLM-N and Sudanese army since 2011.

Talks between the two sides for a cessation of hostilities and humanitarian access are stalled since last August.

SELF-DETERMINATION AND NEGOTIATING POSITION

Meanwhile, Agar said the call for self-determination in the Nuba Mountain is not part of the New Sudan project, saying it would work against the interests of the residents of the Two Areas.

He added the call for self-determination became "no longer attractive after the secession of the South Sudan, saying it would isolate the SPLM-N from the national and democratic forces and will divide the Movement into two parts.

According to Agar, the negotiating position of the SPLM-N regarding the two armies was a response to the government's manoeuvres and attempts to not honour any peace deal that might be signed.

He said the proposal of the Movement to integrate the SPLA-N into a new Sudanese army after restructuring the current army and security organs has foiled the government's manoeuvres.

Agar added al-Hilu believes that SPLA-N has been sacrificed; saying five members of the Movement's negotiating team and himself have met with al-Hilu to convince him that his opinion was wrong but he insisted.

He stressed their current negotiating position doesn't abandon the SPLA-N, saying the establishment of the new Sudanese army could take more than 15 years under the current conditions.

"During this period, the SPLA-N will maintain its presence through a joint defence council," he said.

Speaking to reporters after informal talks with the government in December 2015, SPLM-N secretary general Yasser Arman said "the SPLM-N proposes the formation of a one professional Sudanese army instead of two armies as was the case in the CPA besides making new transitional security arrangements for the SPLA-N within the framework of reforming and restructuring the unified army".

It is noteworthy that during all previous rounds of talks on the Two Areas, the Sudanese government demanded a peace agreement that leads to disarm the SPLA-N fighters.

But the rebel group insists on the need to keep its troops during the transitional period of the peace implementation, saying the Disarmament Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) process can take place once the agreement is fully enforced.

In his resignation dated, al-Hilu disclosed differences among the three executive officers of the national leadership council, saying these differences "went beyond the secondary matters to the principles and orientations".

He pointed that the major disagreement between himself and Agar and Arman evolve around the Movement's manifesto and constitution besides the negotiating position, stressing the SPLM-N has been working without manifesto for six years.

Al-Hilu mentioned differences with Arman regarding the Movement's stance towards the security arrangements with the government.

He disclosed that on the security arrangements, he said that Arman last August handed over to the African Union mediation the same position included in Agar-Nafei agreement of 28 June 2011, while he agreed with him in January 2016 to ask for a 20-year period security arrangements deal.

The factions of the Sudanese Revolutionary Front - Agar including the National Umma Party-Nasreldin al-Mahdi and the eastern Sudan United People's Front for Liberation and Justice (UPFLJ) have called to preserve the SPLM-N's unity and its platform for a comprehensive change in Sudan.

Analysts agree that the decisions of the NMLC decisions means the split of the SPLM-N into two factions.

However, they point that the position of the rebel army and its leadership would impact heavily on the fate of the group.

(ST)

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Publication:Sudan Tribune (Sudan)
Geographic Code:6SUDA
Date:Jun 8, 2017
Words:1295
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