Omar al-Bashir defends deal with Sudanese army in interview

KHARTOUM, Sudan — Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and his newly-freed prime minister defended a new agreement with the military in an interview broadcast Sunday after Bashir’s government ended a week-long siege and an armed uprising by a prominent southern political group.

“We have reached an agreement, and this is a good thing and we have no intention to kill one another,” Omer Mohamed al-Mahdi told InterTV.

“I didn’t want it to end badly,” he said, referring to the government-wide standoff. “The government did not want a war … That was the first goal … to avoid bloodshed.”

Al-Mahdi, who became prime minister after the end of the siege and another prolonged sit-in by the Southern Movement (SPLM), said he worked with the military to reach a short-term solution.

SPLM Chairman Malik Agar also discussed the government deal in an interview that aired on the Saudi-owned MBC satellite television channel, although he refused to say whether he personally accepted the deal.

Agar said he was disappointed that Bashir agreed to a limited political concession to the SPLM, but the president did not reconsider his unilateral decision to take away control of South Kordofan.

The South, which seceded in 2011, still fought alongside the government against the armed insurgents in the South Kordofan government to press for more autonomy.

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