Khartoum bangs the war drums

By Simon Allison 10 November 2011

After a decades-long civil war was finally resolved with the secession of the south, you’d think Sudan would be ready for a little peace and quiet. Instead, Khartoum is threatening to re-ignite the conflict over an increasingly violent border dispute. By SIMON ALLISON (@simonallison).

The rhetoric from Sudan is getting more militant as conflict escalates in regions disputed with the now-independent South Sudan. Sudan’s President Omar Al Bashir made his threat explicit at a pro-government rally in Blue Nile State, which is one of the disputed regions. “We tell our brothers in the south that if they want peace, we want peace. If they want war, our army is there,” he told the crowd. “Our message to our brothers in the south is this: you won the south not because you were victorious, but because of an agreement and a pledge we upheld, so you had better stay in your place.”

Sudan has accused South Sudan of funding and supporting the northern branch of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, which became the main opposition in the north after the secession of the south. The SPLM-N is an offshoot of South Sudan’s ruling party (so these accusations might not be too far off the mark), and is currently fighting a bitter battle with the Sudanese army over control of disputed border regions.

This was reiterated in comments made by Bashir’s presidential aide Nafie Ali Nafie. He declared Sudan would “negotiate with the SPLM in the only language they understand – the language of war.” Nafie is not just any presidential aide; he’s a hardliner with a nasty reputation for torture, and has the ear of the president.

Khartoum’s violent language is a worrying development given the parlous relations between the north and the south, and the many issues they are supposed to be tackling together, such as border demarcations, visa issues and, most importantly, the division of oil revenues. DM




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