Sudan border fighting challenge for Bashir

Wed Sep 14, 2011 2:32pm GMT

By Hereward Holland

JUBA (Reuters) - Fighting spreading along Sudan's new southern border could develop into a coordinated insurgency and encourage efforts to mount a political challenge to President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.

Clashes broke out earlier this month between the army and rebels loyal to Sudan's opposition SPLM-N party in Blue Nile state, the third area along the border with the newly created South Sudan to explode into violence in recent months.

The Sudanese army is already fighting SPLM-N rebels in South Kordofan, an oil state west of Blue Nile. And the United Nations is enforcing a ceasefire in the disputed region of Abyei after Khartoum seized it in May.

"There's a new 'South' in the north of Sudan. From Blue Nile to Darfur, people are seeking the restructuring of the centre," Yasir Arman, secretary general of the SPLM-N, told Reuters.

"This will put an end to Bashir's regime," he said.

Apart from South Kordofan and Blue Nile, dissent is simmering in other regions such as Darfur and east Sudan, a neglected region which has seen an insurgency in the past and where opposition groups demand more development.

Analysts say instead of seeking political compromise, Khartoum is counting on the military to crush rebellions and wants to placate hardliners in the army who see the loss of the south as a humiliation.

Bashir has replaced the SPLM-N's elected governor of Blue Nile, Malik Agar, with a temporary military leader and imposed a state of emergency.   Continued...

Soldiers from Sudan's army celebrate after gaining control of the area, at the Blue Nile state capital al-Damazin, September 5, 2011.   REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah
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