Wednesday, May 2, 2012

SPLM Secretary General Comments on Sudan Conflict and China

The Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) Secretary General Pa'gan Amum spoke at Chatham House in London on 1 May 2012. Click here to read a transcript of his opening remarks and an audio account of a half hour question and answer session.

Amum's opening statement was relatively conciliatory. The question and answer session was more contentious and informative. The first comment came from Sudan's ambassador to the United Kingdom.

Amum asserted that the government in Khartoum has increased its assistance to the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). A reporter asked if the SPLM is providing any support to the SPLM-North, which has vowed to topple the Bashir government. Most neutral observers believe the SPLM is aiding the SPLM-North. Amum deftly skirted the question. Amum added later that "we are not for regime change in Sudan" although Khartoum is talking about regime change in South Sudan.

A surprising amount of the Q and A session dealt with China's role in trying to end the conflict between Sudan and South Sudan. Click here for a Reuters' account of the session that captures the gist of Amum's comments on China's role. Amum began by noting that China is the largest foreign investor in South Sudan and then criticized China for not playing a more active role in trying to end the dispute. He suggested that China is holding back because of its outdated view of noninterference in foreign issues.

Another person asked why the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) still has "battalions" nine and ten in Blue Nile and South Kordofan states, both of which are north of the border. Amum responded that these are divisions, not battalions, nine and ten which were established by the former unified Sudanese government during the CPA and were initially authorized by Khartoum to remain. Khartoum subsequently asked them to disband and the two sides have not reached agreement on their future.

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