New agreement for troop removal in contested Sudan border regions
(30 June 2011)
On 28 June 2011, an agreement brokered by former South African President Thabo Mbeki was reached between the Sudan government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM). The agreement was made in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia at the African Union headquarters, and is aimed at removing rival forces from disputed areas of the border between northern Sudan and the newly formed south Sudan, which will officially declare independence on 9 July this year. This follows previous separate agreements regarding the withdrawal of troops in Abyei and South Kordofan. It establishes a 12-mile wide buffer zone, to be monitored by international observers and UN peacekeepers, and also includes Blue Nile state. The agreement does not create a ceasefire, but is intended to work towards this goal. The UN Security Council also reached an agreement earlier this week to deploy 4200 Ethiopian troops to Abyei to maintain peace there.
Recent fighting, particularly in South Kordofan has resulted in a large amount of the population fleeing, predominantly ethnic Nuba. This has led to claims that the north has been involved in ethnic cleansing of the region. It is reported that much of the violence has stemmed from efforts to disarm SPLM north troops, situated in regions such as South Kordofan. The new agreement aims to implement disarmament plans for the southern-aligned troops through peaceful means, or to alternatively integrate the troops into the Sudan Armed Forces.
Sources: ‘Rival Sudan forces to quit border ahead of independence’, BBC News, 30 June 2011; ‘Sudan signs pact with opposition forces’, Jeffrey Gettleman, New York Times, 28 June 2011; ‘Sudan deal with South Kordofan and Blue Nile rebels’, BBC News, 29 June 2011