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South Sudan accuses north of planning genocide

By | Mar 15th 2011 | 2 min read

JUBA, Sudan, March 13

A south Sudanese official accused the north of planning a Darfur-style genocide in the south, in an escalation of rhetoric less than four months ahead of the secession of his oil-producing region.

Pagan Amum's accusation came a day after his party suspended talks on preparations for southern independence with the north's National Congress Party (NCP) and accused the north of plotting to overthrow the south's government.

A senior northern official dismissed all the allegations as "baseless" and said the south's withdrawal from talks meant there was a greater risk of conflict in the contested Abyei border region.

Southerners overwhelmingly voted for independence in a January referendum that was promised in a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of civil war. The separation is due to take place on July 9.

Distrust between the sides remains deep and analysts have warned skirmishes along the border and heated rhetoric could reignite north-south conflict. The last north-south war killed an estimated 2 million people and destabilised the region.

Amum, secretary general of the south's ruling Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), told journalists the north was arming Arab tribes along the border with the south "so they (can) carry out genocide like they have done to the African people in Darfur. This is what they want to do again."

Southern leaders have accused Khartoum of mobilising Arab Misseriya nomads and militias in the central Abyei border region, claimed by both north and south. Clashes there earlier this month between north and south aligned groups killed more than 100 people, the southern army said.

Washington and activists have accused Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of arming troops and Arab militias to launch genocidal attacks in the country's eight-year Darfur conflict.

Senior NCP official Didiri Mohamed Ahmed said the south had not produced any evidence to back up its accusations and the north wanted to keep talks going.

Ahmed told Reuters in Khartoum the south's withdrawal had left both sides without a venue to discuss tensions in Abyei.

He added the south had not kept a promise to withdraw 2,500 armed police in the region, setting up a possible confrontation with the Misseriya who were about to start moving their cattle through Abyei to find pasture.

"If the SPLM police are still there blocking the way to the river ... definitely this means skirmishes will happen in Abyei," he said. "Unless action is taken, we are expecting the situation in Abyei to flare up maybe sooner than later."

Northern and southern leaders had been making little progress in talks over a range of issues including who owns Abyei, how they will divide up debts and assets, and how the south might pay the north to transport oil after the split.


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