Khartoum, Sudan (PANA) - The Government of southern Sudan on Tuesday ordered rebel leaders from trouble-ridden region of Darfur who took refuge in Juba to leave the area.
The decision was taken by the President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit, following a one-day visit by President Omar Al-Bashir, at which southerners were assured that Khartoum would accept the outcome of the referendum.
Darfur rebellion broke in 2003 and intensified shortly after the North and the South signed a peace agreement in 2005, a move seen by Khartoum as the only political pressure against it, to make sure it would implement the peace deal.
A year later, the government of Khartoum and Darfur rebel leaders, including a former assistant to the President, Mini Arko Minawi, reached a peace deal in Abuja, Nigeria, partially abasing the fight in Darfur.
The agreement resulted in the appointment of the head of the main rebel faction at the time, Minawi, as assistant to the President of the Republic, the third highest executive position after the President and two Vice-Presidents.
However, since the general and presidential elections held last year, in which Minawi refused to take part, his power began to wane and he lost his position as Assistant to the President.
This brought about complains about the lack of funding and feet-dragging in the implementation of the Abuja peace deal.
Last month, Minawi was reported to have joined the now-main Darfur faction of Dr. Khalil Ibrahim, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the other popular Darfur rebel movement, the Sudan Liberation Movement, led by the advocate and media manipulator, Mohamed Nur, currently based in Paris, France.
In 2010, Sudan and Chad reached a peace deal, whereby Khartoum and Ndjamena officially committed themselves to refraining from providing assistance to rebel elements fighting their respective regime, thereby Darfur rebel movements have little manouvering space.
However, with the stalling of peace talks, sponsored by the Qatar government and relations between Khartoum and Juba getting tense as dateline for the referendum approached, the Darfur movements shifted to southern Sudan, the leaders staying in Juba, for what they said was an attempt by the government of southern Sudan to unify them and help bring peace to Darfur.
Some of the forces of those movements were stationed in Bahar Gazal region, an area near Darfur and not far from Central Africa Republic.
This was perceived by Khartoum to be a major source of concern to its security and as undermining its peace process efforts.
Not long ago, government military planes bombarded the Darfur rebels in those locations, sometimes crossing into southern Sudan and stirring disgruntled utterances from Juba.
However, the move taken by the government of southern Sudan to expel rebel leaders from Juba was highly appreciated in Khartoum, which sees the move as a good will gesture from Juba in response to the presidential pledge to accept the outcome of the referendum and to help the south rebuild itself.
“The President of the Government of south Sudan (GOSS) and the first Vice President has told a press briefing at the end of the visit to Juba by the President of the Republic that GOSS has taken measures expelling armed Darfur rebel movements from Juba,” the official Sudan media centre and the Sudan News Agency reporting from Juba said Tuesday.
Bashir was also quoted by the agency as being more specific when he said he had received assurances from GOSS that “they would not allow any northern opposition in southern Sudan.”
It, however, remains to be seen whether Kiir, a savvy former military intelligence officer, would release such a tout for the sake of better relations with his future neighbours if southerners chose separation or close ally if they surprise the world and chose unity.
Bashir, a no-nonsense military commander, who served long in the south before he ousted the government of Al Mahadi in 1989, knows the way his First Vice President thinks and plans.
He too, has some cards in his sleeves, disgruntled southern military leaders, marginalized by the peace deal of 2005.
In a few days, the pledges made today would be judged if genuine or mere political rhetoric while the world is watching.
-0- PANA MO/BOS 4Jan2011