, ADDIS ABABA, May 25 – US Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday accused Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir of repressing the people of the South Kordofan and Blue Nile regions and trying to impose Islamic rule on them.
In both regions “you have people who for a long time have felt that they want their secular governance and identity respected,” Kerry told reporters on the sidelines of an African Union summit.
The US top diplomat insisted people in the war-torn areas – where rebels are battling government troops – did not want independence or to “break away from Sudan.”
“Unfortunately President Bashir is trying to press on them through authoritarian means and through violence an adherence to a standard that they simply don’t want to accept with respect to Islamic” law, Kerry added.
Khartoum was also showing “a rigidity with respect to their identity”, he said.
“So that’s the fundamental clash, and what is critical here in my judgement is for President Bashir to respect what the people in South Kordofan and Blue Nile are trying to achieve,” Kerry said.
But speaking ahead of talks in Addis Ababa with the Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Ahmad Karti, Kerry also acknowledged that South Sudan’s alleged support for the SPLM-North rebels fighting in the two regions worried Sudan.
South Sudan separated from Sudan in 2011 after decades of bloody civil war, but still unsettled issues over border areas and oil have continued to flare into clashes.
Kerry announced after talks with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn that he would soon appoint a new US envoy to Sudan and South Sudan to replace Princeton Lyman.