President Bashir: Sudan closer to war than peace with South Sudan

Posted: February 3, 2012 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Sudan
Tags: , , , , ,

By Abdelmoneim Edris Ali (AFP) –

KHARTOUM, SUDAN — Sudan is closer to war than peace with the breakaway state of South Sudan, President Omar al-Bashir said on national television on Friday.

“The climate now is closer to a climate of war than one of peace,” Bashir said.

He spoke after South Sudanese President Salva Kiir warned on Thursday that renewed conflict could erupt if bitter oil negotiations with Khartoum do not include a deal on other key issues, including the contested Abyei region.

Tensions have also been raised by the still undemarcated border, parts of which cut through oilfields, as well as mutual allegations that each side backs rebel forces against the other.

But Bashir said Sudan will not go to war “unless it is imposed on us.”

South Sudan separated last July after an overwhelming vote that followed two decades of civil war which killed two million.

The crisis between the neighbours has become a major threat to regional peace and security, United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon has said.

Juba announced last Sunday it had nearly completed a protest shutdown of its oil production after talks in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa failed again to resolve a disagreement with Sudan over oil fees.

Khartoum admits to confiscating 1.7 million barrels of South Sudanese crude since vowing in November to take 23 percent of southern oil exports as payment in kind during the fee dispute.

The South calls this “theft.”

“We will continue taking our rights in kind until we reach agreement,” Bashir said.

When South Sudan separated, it took with it three-quarters of the country’s total oil production of 470,000 barrels per day.

But landlocked and grossly underdeveloped South Sudan can only ship its oil through the north, leaving the two countries disputing how much Juba should pay for pumping its crude through the pipeline and Red Sea marine terminal.

The South depends on oil for more than 90 percent of its revenues, while Khartoum’s finance minister said late last year that the loss of oil from the South left a budget shortfall of 30 percent.

Since then, Sudan has witnessed spiralling inflation — which the government sees reaching 17 percent this year — and the sharp devaluation of the Sudanese pound.

At the same time, crippling debts of almost $40 billion and US economic sanctions, which have banned virtually all trade with Sudan since 1997, choke its access to external financing.

In South Kordofan and Blue Nile States, along the contested border with South Sudan, the regime has for several months been fighting ethnic minority insurgents who fought alongside the former rebels now ruling in Juba.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gB07KOmhTLn6VH23Q2zfJHRKsnlQ?docId=CNG.509c6be00a165aa5f8d8dd1384c905e8.361

Sudan’s Bashir says tensions with South could spark war

Fri Feb 3, 2012 7:13pm GMT

 

KHARTOUM Feb 3 (Reuters) – Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir said on Friday tensions with South Sudan over oil transit payments could lead to war, stepping up the rhetoric in a row over crude reserves between the two countries.

Asked in an interview with state television whether war could break out with South Sudan, Bashir said: “There is a possibility.”

He said Sudan wanted peace but added: “We will go to war if we are forced to go to war.”

“If there will be war after the loss of oil it will be a war of attrition. But it will be a war of attrition hitting them before us,” he said.

Sudan is locked in a row with South Sudan over sharing oil revenues. South Sudan, home to substantial crude reserves, split away as an independent country in July, under a 2005 peace agreement.

The landlocked South still needs to export its crude through the north’s port and pipelines. But the two countries went their separate ways without agreeing how much South Sudan was going to pay Sudan to use its oil infrastructure.

The crisis came to a head when Khartoum said in January it had seized some southern oil as compensation for what it called unpaid fees, and South Sudan responded by shutting down oil production.

Bashir on Friday accused Juba of shutting down the oil flow to provoke a collapse of the Sudanese government. Khartoum has been fighting a severe economic crisis since the loss of southern oil, sparking small protests against high food inflation.

Bashir also said his southern counterpart Salva Kirr had refused to reach a deal about oil payments at a meeting last week on the sidelines of the African Union in Addis Ababa.

“They (the South) didn’t sign and they will not sign,” Bashir said, adding that Khartoum was entitled to 74,000 barrels of day of southern oil. Juba pumped 350,000 bpd prior to the shutdown.

“This is our right,” he said.

Bashir said the economic situation was difficult for Sudan this year but the country would boost current oil production of 115,000 bpd by 75,000 bpd. Sudan’s current output serves only domestic consumption.

Sudan would also export gold worth $2.5 billion this year and expand the agricultural sector to compensate for the loss of oil, he said.

Experts have expressed doubts rising gold exports and other measures to diversify the economy will offset the loss of oil revenues of $5 billion booked in 2010.

They say economic diversification has been hampered for years by corruption, misplanning and a U.S. trade embargo. (Reporting by Ulf Laessing and Khalid Abdelaziz)

http://af.reuters.com/article/commoditiesNews/idAFL5E8D33ZT20120203?sp=true

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