Obama Calls for Ceasefire in Sudan Crisis

News from Africa

Khartoum, Sudan

US President Barack Obama has called for a ceasefire in the escalating clashes in the border state of Southern Kordofan between Sudanese army and militia forces aligned to South Sudan’s Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).  In an audio recorded message to the people of Sudan and its leaders President Obama called for an immediate cease of military operations by the Sudanese government to prevent further escalation of the crisis.   “The government of Sudan must prevent a further escalation of this crisis by ceasing its military actions immediately, including aerial bombardments, forced displacements and campaigns of intimidation,” he said. Heavy fighting between north’s Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the SPLA allied militia in Southern Kordofan has been raging since June 5, with the Khartoum forces being accused of carrying out an intensified aerial bombing campaign targeting area’s pro-southern militia groups.   Obama urged both sides must agree to end violence and resolve differences peacefully and allow free movement of humanitarian aid to the thousands of displaced persons. He warned against those who will defy their obligation as they will face isolation and be accountable to their actions.

“There is no military solution, the leaders of Sudan and South Sudan must live up to their responsibilities”… “You must know that if you fulfil your obligations and choose peace, the U.S. will take the steps we have pledged towards normal relations.  However, those who flout their international obligations will face more pressure and isolation and they will be held accountable for their actions,” said Obama.   Fears continue to grow over intensified airstrikes which have been termed as a genocidal campaign in the state against the Nuba people, claims which the Khartoum government denies terming it as fighting between the army and rebels.

The clashes in Abyei and Kordofan over the past month have raised great fears over renewed north-south conflict which ended with the signing of the 2005 peace pact. Talks on disputed oil-rich region of Abyei which both sides claim are ongoing in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  Both President Omar Al-Bashir and southern leader Salva Kiir have agreed to pull out their forces from the region which will be secured by the Ethiopian troops.   South Sudan is expected to be legitimately recognised as a nation in July 9 following an overwhelming vote for secession in the January referendum that was part of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended the two decade-long civil strife.

Referring to south’s independence Obama in his statement said that too much progress had been made to allow collapse, where he urged the Sudanese leaders to show true leadership and choose peace.   Humanitarian actions in the affected areas have been greatly hampered as an estimated 40,000 people from Kordofan and other 100,000 in Abyei have been displaced since the clashes broke out. About 70 death cases have been reported in the clashes mostly believed to be civilians said to be SPLA sympathisers.