Sudan parliament okays Blue Nile military actionKHARTOUM - Sudan on Monday approved military action over the embattled state of Blue Nile bordering South Sudan just days after the rivals agreed to withdraw their troops from another flashpoint border region.
Parliament approved "the military option" in Blue Nile, where rebels have close historic links with newly independent South Sudan, the head of a committee dealing with emergency matters said.
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"Parliament approves the military option to fight the rebellion against Blue Nile state, and orders the authorities concerned to proceed in applying this decision without taking negotiations into account," Ismail al-Haj Mussa said.
"We reject all foreign interference or pressure, no matter where it comes from," Haj Mussa told a special session of parliament in Khartoum.
"We have decided to proceed to defend the sovereignty of Sudan."
The move comes after the governments of the rival Sudans struck a new agreement on Thursday to withdraw their forces from the border region of Abyei where United Nations troops have been deployed.
The previous day, Sudan's military said it inflicted heavy losses on rebels in Blue Nile state after US Special Envoy to Sudan Princeton Lyman warned the conflict was a barrier to improved relations between Khartoum and Washington.
Khartoum has been seeking improved ties with the United States as a reward for allowing the south to secede on July 9.
"Certainly we can't go forward... if we have a major conflict going on, and we have humanitarian and human rights issues that haven't been addressed," Lyman said.
On Wednesday, the official SUNA news agency quoted Sudan military spokesman Sawarmi Khaled Saad as saying the army "clashed with remnants of Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) on Wednesday afternoon near Bau town in Blue Nile state, and inflicted heavy losses on them."
A number of soldiers were also killed and wounded in the clashes, he said.
Deadly clashes erupted on September 2 in Blue Nile between the Sudanese army and former rebel forces of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), now the party of power in the south.
The United Nations said on Wednesday that Sudan had denied international aid agencies access to Blue Nile, estimating that at least 50,000 people had so far been displaced by the fighting.
Defence Minister Abdelrahim Mohammed Hussein told Monday's session of parliament the military had killed more than 100 former rebels and captured upwards of 40 since the fighting in Blue Nile began.
"Our forces have killed more than 100 SPLM members and captured 44, among them seven officers, and wounded another 244," he said.
The Blue Nile flare-up represents the third major conflict to unfold since May in southern districts just across its new international border with South Sudan.
As in nearby South Kordofan, where a similar conflict broke out three months ago, Blue Nile's population is heavily divided between supporters of the government and of the SPLM-North.
Shortly after the fighting started, the government sacked Blue Nile's elected governor Malik Agar, replacing him with an interim military ruler.
Khartoum government forces occupied Abyei in May and more than 110,000 people fled their homes to South Sudan, which also claims the border region.
The two governments reached the latest accord on Abyei during talks in Addis Ababa, Edmond Mulet, UN assistant secretary general for peacekeeping, told reporters on Thursday after a UN Security Council meeting.
The accord was brokered by an African Union mediation panel led by South Africa's former president Thabo Mbeki, Mulet said.
"They have agreed that between September 11 and 30 there is going to be a redeployment or withdrawal of the troops" from Abyei by both sides, he said.
(c) 2011 AFP