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  • on 13.04.2012
  • at 12:03 PM
  • by Randa Ghazy

Bashir says South Sudan opted for war, vows retake of Heglig 0

KHARTOUM – Sudan’s President Omer Al-Bashir has accused South Sudan of taking a path of war with his country in execution of “external agendas”, pledging to overturn the “aggression” of the southern army on Heglig town.

The oil-producing town of Heglig in Sudan’s border state of South Kordofan was captured on Wednesday by South Sudan’s army known as SPLA after clashes with the Sudanese army (SAF), in the latest episode of the tit-for-tat attacks the two neighbors have been launching across shared borders since early April.

South Sudan said it occupied Heglig in response to aerial and ground assaults launched a day earlier by SAF deep inside southern territories.

Juba further laid claim to the strategic town which was allocated to Sudan as part of a 2008 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) on redrawing the boundaries of the disputed territory of Abyei.

To make matters worse for Khartoum, Southern forces shut down Heglig’s oil fields which produce almost half of Sudan’s daily output of 115,000 barrels.

Speaking on Thursday to reporters at Khartoum International Airport after bidding farewell to the visiting president of Niger, Bashir said that South Sudan had chosen “a path of defeat in execution of external agendas.”

The Sudanese president elaborated that South Sudan’s occupation of Heglig was part of “bills Juba is paying to the quarters that used to support them in the past during the war”, in reference to the north-south conflict in the once united Sudan and which ended seven years ago with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that gave South Sudan independence in July last year.

“Despite the fact that it [South Sudan] is a nascent state and needs stability, peace, development, services, and lacks many of the basic needs of citizens, it has chosen to take another direction,” Al-Bashir said.

The Sudanese president regretted that South Sudan did not appreciate that Khartoum signed the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) for the sake of stopping the war that went on for many years and depleted Sudan’s human and material resources.

“In order to redirect resources towards construction and development, we chose peace” he declared. “It is clear, however, that our brothers in South Sudan did not think about the interest of Sudan or South Sudan because the two countries have no interest in continuing the war for it is a lose-lose situation for both sides.”

Al-Bashir concluded his brief speech by hailing the steadfastness of SAF and vowing that any aggression against Sudan would be repulsed.

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir Mayardit has defiantly refused to heed calls from the UN and AU for withdrawing troops from Heglig.

He told members of his country’s parliament on Thursday that he would not order a withdrawal and went on to threaten to send his army to fight in Abyei which has been occupied by Sudanese troops since May 2010.

Meanwhile, Sudan’s defense minister Abdel-Rahim Mohamed Hussein has asserted that his country intends to take back Heglig by force and denied reports that their air forces bombed a major town in the South.

“We did not attack the south at all and we have no intention to do so but we will overpower them and re-take Heglig by force” Hussain told reporters on Thursday following a meeting of the Supreme Committee for Mobilization and Alertness (SCMA) which Sudan formed under the chairmanship of Vice-President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha after military confrontations with the south erupted earlier this month.

Hussein was reacting to reports that Sudanese air forces attacked on Thursday the capital of South Sudan’s border state of Unity, Bentiu town, which lies about 60 kilometres from the frontier, in continuation of a series of air raids Juba accuses Sudan of carrying out.

But the Sudanese minister dismissed southern accusations as implausible propaganda, saying that even the UN recognized South Sudan as the assailing force and ordered it to withdraw from Heglig.

Hussien went on to play down the effect of South Sudan’s shutdown of oil production in Heglig, saying that although the area is vital but Sudan has others.

Also in Khartoum, the occupation of Heglig has continued to fuel increased war rhetoric in pro-government media.

State-controlled media outlets are dedicating near-total coverage to condemnations by various local and international actors of South Sudan’s “aggression”

Sudan’s state TV has been airing patriotic and Jihadist songs inciting the public to flock to defend the homeland while the majority of newspapers carried angry reactions to the occupation of Heglig and calls on the government to retaliate.

Source: Sudan Tribune

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