The formation of a new rebel group, the South Sudan Liberation Movement (SSLM), was announced in Nairobi on Tuesday. Members of the group told journalists that it was "an interim political structure to oversee and nurse the political and military developments in Upper Nile". Its objective was to "mobilise the people of greater Upper Nile Region for their effective participation in the war of liberation".
A member of the group, Peter Adwok, told IRIN that the SSLM was launched on 31 January in Waat in central Upper Nile to "bring together all the tribes in the Upper Nile region who have been neutralised, hence ineffective, in the liberation struggle". He said the idea followed meetings with other rebel movements including the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) and the establishment of the Upper Nile Provisional Military Command Council (UMCC) on 4 November 1999. The UMCC supposedly "unified all the military forces" in central, eastern and western Upper Nile. "We want to bring together the Shulluk, Nuer, Dinka, Murle, Anjuak and Maban who have been neutralised since 1991 yet there is need for them to come back into the liberation struggle," Adwok said. He added that the SSLM would work with the SPLM/A as a "partner" in the struggle. "We hope it will not degenerate to infighting akin to what happened in 1991 when everyone wanted [SPLA leader John] Garang's post," he said. "This time, it is not leadership of the movement but a unified fight against a common enemy."
New group "unfortunate", SPLA says
The SPLM/A, for its part, described the move as "unfortunate". Its spokesman Samson Kwaje told IRIN he could not visualise how the SSLM would work in the "very fluid" Upper Nile situation. "This is a traumatised area," he said. "Government forces, SPLM/A troops, Riak Machar, Paulino Matip, Peter Gadet, Tito Obial are all operating in this area." "Instead of uniting the tribes as they are saying they would like to, they may end up fighting each other and creating more misery," he warned. "What is the use of adding fuel to the fire?"
He said his movement was "not very enthusiastic" about the SSLM "because it may end up diluting our efforts in the struggle". The fragmentation of the groups could also give the government "an easier time", he added.
Sudan, NGOs working for the release of aid workers
Sudan's Commissioner-General for the Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) Suluf al-Din Salih last week announced that the organisation is to coordinate a campaign to work for the release of 13 Sudanese nationals, working with voluntary organisations, who have been detained by rebel militias. The Sudanese news agency SUNA quoted Al-Din Salih as saying he had formed a committee to this effect which would launch an international campaign to oblige all parties to the conflict to commit themselves to international conventions. A UN official told IRIN on Thursday he had heard of the idea to launch such a campaign but was not aware of the number of detained workers, nor of the stage at which the "idea" currently stood.
50 said killed in clashes
More than 50 people have died and several others were injured following clashes between Maraheelen militias and SPLA troops at "Bangela" in southeast Sudan this week, a newspaper report claimed. The 'Alwan' newspaper said 20 SPLA soldiers died in the clash while the militias lost 29.
SPLM/A spokesman Samson Kwaje, who could neither confirm nor deny the incident, said the name of the place where the incident reportedly took place was "debatable". "Unless the story is referring to Panjella in Upper Nile, we do not know about Bangela," he said.
Iranian-built "peace road" to be inaugurated this month
An Iranian-built highway named the "peace road", which links northern Sudan to its southern parts, will be inaugurated on 8 February, the Iranian news agency IRNA reported. The highway links Jabalayn in the north to Rabak city in the south. It is "a gift from the Islamic Republic of Iran to the Muslim nation of Sudan" at a cost of US $10 million, IRNA added. Iranian officials said there were many problems in constructing the road which passes through rough terrain.
OLS return to Upper Nile, Jonglei approved
Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) agencies have been given a green light to return to several locations in Upper Nile and Jonglei that had previously been out of bounds. A report from OLS mentioned that areas such as Motot, Pieri, Langkien, Tangyang, Kaikuny, Walgak, Wanding and Pajut were now safe. The organisation is planning several assessments to the locations to determine the needs of the populations before providing assistance.
Malnutrition reported in southern Bor county
An assessment carried out by MEDAIR recently reported a global malnutrition rate of 21.7 percent in southern Bor county in Jonglei after a nutritional survey. OLS quoted the organisation as saying that out of this percentage, 2.1 percent of people were in a severe state. MEDAIR is planning another assessment to determine the cause of the malnutrition.
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