JUBA, Sudan (Reuters) - A south Sudanese official accused the north of planning a Darfur-style genocide against the south, in an escalation of rhetoric less than four months ahead of the secession of his oil-producing region.
Pagan Amum’s accusation came a day after he said his party had suspended talks about preparations for southern independence with the north’s National Congress Party, which he said was plotting to overthrow the south’s semi-autonomous government.
Southerners overwhelmingly voted to declare independence in a January referendum that was promised in a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of civil war with the north. The separation is due to take place on July 9.
Amum, secretary general of the south’s ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), on Saturday told journalists in Khartoum the north was arming and training militias to try and topple the southern government before secession.
Senior National Congress Party (NCP) official Rabie Abdelati dismissed the accusation as “ridiculous.”
On Sunday, Amum told journalists in the southern capital Juba: ”The NCP have been arming Arab tribes along the border of the north and south ... so they carry out genocide like they have done to the African people in Darfur. This is what they want to do again.
“We call on the Security Council to stop this genocide which is impending ... This policy of genocide must stop.”
Amum said the SPLM would like to reach a settlement with the north and return to talks but “we have nobody to talk to ... they are already engaged in war.”
No one was immediately available to comment from the NCP on Sunday.
Southern leaders have accused Khartoum of mobilizing Arab Misseriya nomads and the militias in the contested Abyei border region. Clashes there earlier this month between north and south aligned groups killed more than 100 people, said the southern army.
Washington and some activists have accused Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of arming troops and Arab militias to launch genocidal attacks in the country’s separate eight-year Darfur conflict.
The ramping up of rhetoric and the suspension of talks comes at a dangerous time for north-south relations. Abyei’s north and south-linked communities are heavily armed and analysts have warned it would not take much to reignite fighting.
Northern and southern leaders had been making little progress in talks over a range of issues including who owns Abyei, how they will divide up debts and assets, and how the south might pay the north to transport oil after the split.
Writing by Andrew Heavens