The UN urged the governments of South Sudan and Sudan to reach a final settlement on the disputed territory of Abyei. The UN cited the Sudans’ their recent oil transportation agreement as a basis for resolving what is regarded as the most dangerous border dispute between the two countries. A UN peacekeeping brigade is located Abyei but that has not stopped the fighting.
September 4, 2013: Members of the governing National Congress Party (NCP) in Sudan’s parliament asked the government to raise the state of alert for Popular Defense Forces (PDF) militias. The NCP parliamentarians said that the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF, Sudanese rebel umbrella organization) was preparing to conduct new attacks in South Kordofan state (Nuba Mountains), Blue Nile state and in Darfur. The NCP members also asked that the PDF training camps be opened to mujahedeen volunteers (international Islamic terrorists). Interestingly enough, after making the demand that the government allow mujahedeen volunteers to fight, a senior member of parliament said that the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N, one of the major rebel groups in the SRF) was drawing the Sudanese government into a no-win conflict. The senior leader said that any negotiations with the SPLM-N must be conducted within the framework of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which ended the north-south civil war. So the threat to recruit international volunteers is immediately followed by a demand that the rebels agree to negotiate based on the 2005 CPA. Threatening to bring in international Islamist holy warriors is rhetoric intended to appease the more radical members of the NCP coalition. The demand that the SPLM-N stick to the 2005 CPA is a demand that the rebels concede that South Kordofan and Blue Nile are part of Sudan, not South Sudan. But the CPA also promised that the rights of ethnic groups in these areas would be recognized and their political preferences respected. The war in South Kordofan and Blue Nile has proved to be more expensive and enduring than Sudan expected. The government may not be ready to make a deal with the SPLM-N, but this is the kind of public political kabuki dance that often precedes a new political initiative. (Austin Bay)
September 3, 2013: Sudan agreed to withdraw its threat to block South Sudanese oil exports after the heads of both nations met in the Sudan capital. Both the African Union and the UN had pressured the Sudans to accommodate one another regarding oil revenues. South Sudan relies on oil for over 95 percent of its income. South Sudanese oil transport fees are a major source of revenue for Sudan.
August 31, 2013: The SPLM-N announced that it will unilaterally end combat operations in Blue Nile and South Kordofan states for one month. The SPLM-N said that recent floods have created an enormous humanitarian disaster. The unilateral ceasefire will run through September 30.
August 29, 2013: The SPLM-N claimed that its fighters had captured two government military garrisons in the Geissan district (Ethiopian border, Blue Nile state). The SPLM-N also claimed that its forces had ambushed and destroyed a Sudanese military convoy. Four rebels were killed in that attack.
August 27, 2013: Gunmen murdered two Red Cross workers in Central Darfur state and kidnapped six others. The kidnapped workers were later released. The gunmen have not been identified.
August 26, 2013: After a year of debate, South Sudan's parliament has passed the national Petroleum Revenue Management Bill (also called the oil bill and petroleum bill). The bill addresses how the government can spend oil royalty revenues. The bill also makes explicit how revenues will be tracked and accounted for. The aim is to make corruption more difficult. Numerous diplomats, aid advocates and Western businessmen had urged South Sudan to include tough accounting and reporting standards in the oil bill. At the moment many Western commercial firms avoid South Sudan because of what they call “lack of clarity” in accounting. China’s state-run oil companies dominate oil production in South Sudan. The bill was approved in July but was not officially passed until today. It will be sent to the president for his signature.
August 25, 2013: The Sudanese Army claimed that it had retaken the village of Ashimbu (Gessan district, Blue Nile state). The army claimed that SPLM-N fighters had attacked the village, plundered it and then burned the village market place. Meanwhile, the SPLM-N claimed that its forces had killed 22 Sudanese soldiers in firefights in the Alshumbu and Dokan regions of Geissan district.
August 15, 2013: The Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) demanded that Sudan declare a national state of emergency in states affected by rain and floods, which have created a massive humanitarian disaster zone.
August 13, 2013: Earlier this month the Sudan Liberation Movement-Minni Minnawi faction (SLM-MM) had seized a Russian Mi-8 helicopter flying on-contract to UNAMID when it landed in South Darfur state on a mission related to supplying election ballots. The crew of two Ukrainians and one Sudanese were imprisoned and negotiations for the helicopter and crew’s release continue.
August 8, 2013: Nearly a 100 have been killed in recent tribal (Misseriya versus Salamat) clashes in Darfur. Several dozen tribesmen were slain in fighting on August 4 in the Umm Dukhun region (near Chad border) and the fighting continues.
August 6, 2013: Sudan ordered 20 UN refugee workers in Darfur to leave the country. The workers are assigned to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Every so often Sudan hassles and threatens UN workers because it resents what it calls the UN occupation of Sudan. The workers being forced to leave the country monitor displaced persons camps throughout Darfur. The UNHCR reported that Sudan gave no reason for the expulsions.
August 5, 2013: A Sudanese Army soldier was killed in a firefight with South Sudanese soldiers. Sudan accused a South Sudanese patrol of crossing the border in the Heglig area. Sudanese soldiers fired on the South Sudanese patrol. Sudan (north) now controls Heglig but South Sudan claims it. Heglig is the largest producing oil field in Sudan.
August 1, 2013: Sudan threatened to deny South Sudan access to its oil pipeline system. Currently, South Sudan must rely on the north’s pipeline to export its oil.
July 31, 2013: The UN has re-positioned its peacekeepers to the South Sudanese state of Jonglei where the South Sudan military is battling tribal rebels, so the peacekeepers can better protect civilians there.
July 30, 2013: Another series of battles between Misseriya and Salamat tribesmen in Darfur has left 134 people dead. These battles have been going on since January in South Darfur state.