JEM proclaims neutrality in South Sudan conflict
The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) has proclaimed its neutrality in the South Sudan conflict and denied any involvement in the ongoing fighting in the country.
Jibril Ibrahim, leader of the north Sudanese rebel movement, vehemently denied that his forces are involved in the conflict in South Sudan which broke out in mid-December.
In an interview with Radio Tamazuj on Wednesday, the rebel leader said, “JEM supports neither Dr. Riek Machar nor the Government of South Sudan, because it is an internal issue.”
“We do not back either of the warring parties,” he added. He noted though that the war in South Sudan was a matter of concern for all Sudanese.
Ibrahim said that South Sudanese had already suffered enough during their war for independence, and he urged the warring parties to seek an amicable solution to the problem through negotiations.
JEM forces fought alongside South Sudan’s army during the brief April 2012 border war which was waged in Unity State and bordering South Kordofan. The rebel force maneuvered freely throughout northern Unity at that time, including in the capital Bentiu.
Under pressure since the Juba-Khartoum rapprochement beginning with the Addis Ababa agreements in September 2012, JEM has shifted the bulk of its forces northward into the territories in South Kordofan controlled by SPLA-N, among other areas.
An aid agency worker in Yida refugee camp told Sudan Tribune that he saw JEM rebels with heavy armoured vehicles and munitions passing through the refugee camp on their way to Pariang last Friday.
The defected 4th Division Commander James Koang likewise told the online daily that the Sudanese rebels came down from the Nuba Mountains into Pariang County apparently out of concern for their supply route into South Sudan.
JEM’s leader emphasized, however, that the target for the rebel movement remains the regime of President Omar al Bashir in Khartoum. He reiterated that the movement intends to overthrow the Sudanese government by military force and civil disobedience.
File photo: JEM soldiers traveling in Sudan’s main oilfield Heglig during South Sudan’s 10-day occupation of the field, 15 April 2012 (Adriane Ohanesian/AFP)