Despite the talk of working things out to run a clean election, disgruntled members of the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM, the lead party in South Sudan) are not hopeful. Rumors keep cropping up that the two main Darfur rebel organizations, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA, at least once faction of the SLA) want to create a united front against the national government. That talk is not new, but if the north-south friction continues, an all-Sudan rebel coalition becomes a real possibility.
December 13, 2009: The SPLM said that recent negotiations with its northern partner in the national government, the National Congress Party (NCP) are addressing many of the issues concerning the 2010 national elections. The SPLM is very concerned about intimidation of voters by militias loyal to the north. The SPLM and NCP broke off negotiations in November, but have agreed to start talking again. The big election remains the 2011 national referendum which will determine if the south becomes a completely separate South Sudan. A spokesman for the SPLM said that progress had been made on the 2011 election. A tentative agreement has been reached on how to conduct the referendum in the south. The Abyei region (where there is oil) would have its own separate ballot. Negotiations are continuing on how to conduct the referendum in two other border regions.
December 12, 2009: Government security forces (which can mean most anything, but in this case probably the Sudanese Army and national police) killed 15 gunmen in Darfur. The gunmen were part of a group that murdered a member of the Sudanese parliament. The gunmen murdered the representative, Hassan Tageddine Hassan al-Helw, on December 10. Helw is a member of the NCP. The Sudanese security forces caught up with the gunmen in South Darfur state.
December 9, 2009: An unidentified group attacked UNAMID peacekeepers outside of the capital of South Darfur state, Nyala. The gunmen fired on a patrol led by Pakistani police. A firefight ensued for 25 minutes, until a Nigerian infantry unit arrived. UNAMID did not lose any soldiers in the incident. However, a spokesman said it was the third firefight within the last three days between gunmen and peacekeepers in the last week in South Darfur.
December 7, 2009: Demonstrators in Khartoum attacked NCP offices in the city. The demonstrators were protesting the arrests of three South Sudanese leaders. Police used tear gas to break up the demonstration.
December 6, 2009: The government said it had arrested several men suspected of killing three Rwandan soldiers in North Darfur state. The official statement described the men arrested as being bandits.
December 5, 2009: Two Rwandan soldiers serving in Darfur with the UN peacekeeping force (UNAMID) were shot and killed. A third Rwandan soldier was wounded. The three soldiers were delivering water (form a water tanker vehicle) at a refugee camp in Shangil Tobay (North Darfur state). This attack followed an incident on December 4 where three Rwandan soldiers were ambushed and killed by gunmen.