Archive for March 28, 2012

Sudan, South Sudan vow no war after border battles

Posted: March 28, 2012 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Junub Sudan
Tags:

JUBA  – Sudan and South Sudan vowed Wednesday to step back from the brink of all out war after three days of border violence including airstrikes and tank battles prompted international concern of a wider conflict.

Fighting on the ground had reportedly ceased on both sides of the undemarcated border but dead bodies and destroyed tanks lay strewn in Sudan’s contested oil centre of Heglig, the site of bloody battles that began Monday. Both Juba and Khartoum said senior envoys would meet in the Ethiopian capital Thursday in a bid to stave off further violence.

“What we expect to achieve is the cessation of hostilities,” South Sudan’s top negotiator Pagan Amum said. “We will stop the fighting that is there, and ensure that this does not erupt into war between the two countries.”

Sudanese foreign affairs official Rahamatalla Mohamed Osman, said Khartoum did not want a war with the South.

, but warned “if they want to accelerate, we will defend ourselves.”

Sudanese warplanes on Monday launched air raids on newly independent South Sudan, while the rival armies clashed in heavy battles.

Both sides claim the other started the fighting, the worst since South Sudan declared independence from Khartoum last July after decades of civil war.

The African Union, UN Security Council and European Union have called for an end to the violence, while US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Khartoum bore the responsibility for the renewed hostilities.

The pan-African body said Wednesday it was deeply concerned at an “escalating security situation” on the border between the former civil war foes, and called for troops to pull back 10 kilometres (6 miles) either side of the border.

The unrest jeopardises AU-led efforts to resolve contentious border and oil disputes that have ratcheted up tensions between Juba and Khartoum.

The last round of AU-mediated talks in Addis Ababa closed this month with an agreement on nationality and border issues, which was hailed as a major breakthrough in dragging negotiations, but the mood has soured since.

Juba said northern bombers and troops had struck first on Monday, moving into Unity State before Southern troops fought back and took the Heglig oil field, parts of which are claimed by both countries.

Sudan later retook the field.

“Heglig and all around it is completely secure,” Bashir Meki, the Sudanese local army commander, told an AFP reporter who visited the region with Sudan’s Oil Minister Awad Ahmad al-Jaz.

A large contingent of Misseriya nomads from the paramilitary Popular Defence Force (PDF), a key battle force for the Sudanese military, patrolled the Heglig area with rifles and motorcycles, but without uniforms.

“We will fight for this border even without the government’s permission, to protect our land,” said Ismail Hamdien, a Misseriya leader who travelled to the battle scene to assess the situation.

Rebel forces that both Juba and Khartoum accuse are backed by the other were also reported to have joined in the fighting, and AU Commission chief Jean Ping called for a “halting of any support to rebel forces.”

Oil operations in Heglig are run by the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company (GNPOC), a consortium led by China’s state oil giant CNPC.

“There is serious concern among us,” one Chinese oil worker said. “How can we work in this situation? We want the government to protect us because we are working for the people of Sudan.”

Southern soldiers were on high alert along the border fearing fresh attacks after pulling out of Heglig, said Southern army spokesman Philip Aguer.

“It is not our policy to attack and occupy, but only to defend ourselves against unwarranted aggression,” said Aguer, adding there had been no ground fighting Wednesday.

“We are monitoring the movement of large SAF (Sudan’s army) convoys near the border … our forces are ready to respond,” he added.

More than two million people died in Sudan’s 1983-2005 civil war between Khartoum and southern rebels before a peace agreement which led to South Sudan’s independence.

http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/international/29-Mar-2012/sudan-south-sudan-vow-no-war-after-border-battles

Sudan, S Sudan vow no war after battles

Thursday March 29, 2012

Sudan, S Sudan vow no war after battles

Sudan and South Sudan have vowed to step back from the brink after three days of border conflict including air strikes and tank battles prompted international concern of a wider conflict.

Fighting on the ground had reportedly ceased on both sides of the unmarked border but dead bodies and destroyed tanks lay strewn in Sudan’s contested oil centre of Heglig, the site of bloody battles that began on Monday.

Both Juba and Khartoum said senior envoys would meet in the Ethiopian capital on Thursday in a bid to stave off further violence.

‘What we expect to achieve is the cessation of hostilities,’ South Sudan’s top negotiator Pagan Amum said. ‘We will stop the fighting that is there, and ensure that this does not erupt into war between the two countries.’

Sudanese foreign affairs official Rahamatalla Mohamed Osman, who had arrived in Addis Ababa ahead of the talks, said Khartoum did not want a war with the South, but warned ‘if they want to accelerate, we will defend ourselves.’

Sudanese warplanes on Monday launched air raids on newly independent South Sudan, while the rival armies clashed in heavy battles.

Both sides claim the other started the fighting, the worst since South Sudan declared independence from Khartoum last July after decades of civil war.

The African Union, UN Security Council and European Union have called for an end to the violence, while US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Khartoum bore the responsibility for the renewed hostilities.

The pan-African body said on Wednesday it was deeply concerned at an ‘escalating security situation’ on the border between the former civil war foes, and called for troops to pull back 10 kilometres either side of the border.

The unrest jeopardises AU-led efforts to resolve contentious border and oil disputes that have ratcheted up tensions between Juba and Khartoum.

Juba said northern bombers and troops had struck first on Monday, moving into Unity State before Southern troops fought back and took the Heglig oil field, parts of which are claimed by both countries.

Sudan later retook the field.

‘Heglig and all around it is completely secure,’ Bashir Meki, the Sudanese local army commander, told an AFP reporter who visited the region with Sudan’s Oil Minister Awad Ahmad al-Jaz.

A large contingent of Misseriya nomads from the paramilitary Popular Defence Force (PDF), a key battle force for the Sudanese military, patrolled the Heglig area with rifles and motorcycles, but without uniforms.

‘We will fight for this border even without the government’s permission, to protect our land,’ said Ismail Hamdien, a Misseriya leader who travelled to the battle scene to assess the situation.

Rebel forces that both Juba and Khartoum accuse are backed by the other were also reported to have joined in the fighting, and AU Commission chief Jean Ping called for a ‘halting of any support to rebel forces.’

Oil operations in Heglig are run by the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company (GNPOC), a consortium led by China’s state oil giant CNPC.

‘There is serious concern among us,’ one Chinese oil worker said. ‘How can we work in this situation? We want the government to protect us because we are working for the people of Sudan.’

Southern soldiers were on high alert along the border fearing fresh attacks.

Arkangelo Paul Lorem: From South Sudan to Yale

Posted: March 28, 2012 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Education
Tags: , ,

By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF; Published: March 28, 2012

Paul Lorem epitomizes a blunt truth about the world: talent is universal, but opportunity is not.

Lorem, 21, is an orphan from a South Sudanese village with no electricity. His parents never went to school, and he grew up without adult supervision in a refugee camp. Now he’s a freshman at Yale University.

All around the world, remarkable young men and women are on edge because today they finally hear of admissions decisions from Yale and a number of other highly competitive universities. So a word of encouragement: No one ever faced longer odds than Paul Lorem, and he made it.

“How I got to Yale was pure luck, combined with lots of people helping me,” Lorem told me as we sat in a book-lined study on the Yale campus. “I had a lot of friends who maybe had almost the same ability as me, but, due to reasons I don’t really understand, they just couldn’t make it through. If there’s one thing I wish, it’s that they had more opportunity to get education.”

Lorem’s family comes from a line of cattle-herders in the southeastern part of South Sudan. The area is remote. Villagers live in thatch-roof huts, and there is no functioning school or health clinic. The nearest paved road is several days’ walk away.

As Lorem was growing up, the region was engulfed in civil war, and, at age 5, he nearly died of tuberculosis. In hope of saving his life, his parents dropped him off at theKakuma refugee camp in northern Kenya. They returned to their village and later died, and Lorem was raised in the camp by other refugee boys who were only a bit older.

Boys raising boys might seem a recipe for Lord-of-the-Flies chaos, but these teenagers forced Lorem to go to school, seeing education as an escalator to a better life. And Lorem began to soar.

His class sometimes consisted of 300 pupils meeting under a tree, and Lorem didn’t have his own notebooks or pencils or schoolbooks, but he practiced letters by writing in the dust. His friends died of war, disease and banditry, but he devoured the contents of a tiny refugee camp library set up by a Lutheran aid group.

Teachers took increasing pride in their brilliant student and arranged for Lorem to leave the refugee camp and transfer to a Kenyan school for seventh and eighth grades. That way he could compete in nationwide exams and perhaps get into high school.

Just one problem: those exams were partly in Swahili, a language that Lorem did not speak. But he poured himself into his schoolwork, and classmates helped him. Lorem ended up earning the second highest mark in that entire region of Kenya.

That led to a scholarship to a top boarding school near the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, and then to the African Leadership Academy in South Africa. On his school vacation between junior and senior year of high school, Lorem undertook an epic journey across Africa to his native village. Then he guided his younger brother and sister to the refugee camp where he grew up so that they, too, could get an education.

Lorem loves Yale, but, academically, it has been a tough transition, partly because English is Lorem’s fifth language (he also speaks Didinga, Toposa, Arabic and Swahili). Jeffrey Brenzel, the Yale admissions director, puts it this way: “On the one hand, these adjustments are greater for him than for many, but, on the other hand, he has already overcome far greater challenges than other students have just to get here.”

The vast majority of children in poor countries never enjoy such opportunities. The United Nations’ Millennium Development Goal of all children completing primary school by 2015 will almost certainly be missed. Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain is calling for the creation of a Global Fund for Education to help meet the goal, and I hope the United States backs the initiative.

Lorem plans to return to South Sudan after graduation to help rebuild his country. As I interviewed him in the tranquility of Yale, he choked with tears as he recalled the many people who had helped him: the boys in the camp who looked after him; the German nun, Sister Luise Radleimer Agonia, who enveloped him in love and helped pay his school fees; the bus driver in Juba, South Sudan, who put Lorem up in his shack for weeks while he struggled to get a passport to travel to Yale.

Education is the grandest accelerant for human potential. So congratulations to Lorem as well as to college applicants who receive great news today — and let’s work to help all those other Paul Lorems out there, at home and abroad, step onto the education escalator.

I invite you to visit my blog, On the Ground. Please also join me on Facebook andGoogle+, watch my YouTube videos and follow me on Twitter.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/29/opinion/kristof-from-south-sudan-to-yale.html?_r=1


Sudan and South Sudan may slide back to war, world powers warn

CNN International
By the CNN Wire Staff A burnt military vehicle sits where South Sudanese troops and Sudan government forces clashed along the border near Hegleg, the central area for Sudan’s oil production. (CNN) — Sudan and South Sudan may be sliding back toward war 
From South Sudan to Yale
New York Times
Lorem, 21, is an orphan from a South Sudanese village with no electricity. His parents never went to school, and he grew up without adult supervision in a refugee camp. Now he’s a freshman at Yale University. All around the world, remarkable young men 
Corruption a no-go zone for South Sudan’s journalists
CPJ Press Freedom Online (blog)
By Tom Rhodes/East Africa Consultant Last week, South Sudan’s ruling party secretary-general, Pagan Amum, won an important court battle, absolving him from allegations of receiving a $30 million corrupt payment in 2006. The accusations came from former 
Mosaic News 3/27/2012: Syria Accepts Ceasefire Plan as Assad Tours Former 
linktv
Syria accepts Annan’s ceasefire plan as Assad tours former rebel stronghold, Tunisia’s Ennahda to preserve secular basis of the state, Sudan suspends summit with South Sudan following clashes, and more. Today’s headlines in full: Syria accepts Annan’s 

South Sudan Pulls Back From Disputed Northern Town
Voice of America
March 28, 2012 South Sudan Pulls Back From Disputed Northern Town Gabe Joselow | NairobiSouth Sudan has withdrawn its troops from a contested area north of the border in Sudan following clashes this week with Sudanese armed forces.

South Sudan: AU Calls for Ceasefire in Latest Sudan Spat
AllAfrica.com
By Lordrick Mayabi, 28 March 2012 Nairobi — The chairman of the African Union Commission Jean Ping has warned Sudan and South Sudan that military means can never provide a long-term answer to the bilateral issues affecting the relations of the two 

Angola, South Sudan sign verbal cooperation deal
AngolaPress
Luanda – The Republics of Angola and South Sudan Wednesday, in Luanda, signed a verbal process that sets future lines of cooperation between both African countries. The agreement was signed by the Angolan minister of Foreign Affairs, George Rebelo 

South Sudan says it pulls back troops from border
Palm Beach Post
AP JUBA, South Sudan — South Sudan says it has pulled out its troops from a contested area along the border with Sudan shortly after clashes between the two countries armies sparked fears of a return to war. Military spokesman Col.
Sudan-South Sudan Clashes Raise Global Concern
New York Times
KHARTOUM, Sudan — After a brief, halting step toward reconciliation, military clashes along the long, disputed border between Sudan and newly independent South Sudan have stirred fears of a renewed conflict between the two sides.

Deporting the South Sudanese? ‘That’s not what you do to a friend’
The Times of Israel
Earlier this month, Deng visited Israel on a different advocacy mission: trying to convince the government to reconsider its decision to expel South Sudanese asylum seekers after March 31 — this weekend. (South Sudan became officially independent of 

Security Council alarmed at Sudan-South Sudan border clashes which it says 
The Republic
EDITH M. LEDERER AP UNITED NATIONS — The UN Security Council expressed deep alarm Tuesday at military clashes along the border between Sudan and newly independent South Sudanwhich it said are threatening to reignite their civil war.

Sudan sends warplanes over South Sudan as border conflict rages
Charlotte Observer
NAIROBI, Kenya — Sudan sent military aircraft over a key South Sudanese city Tuesday as part of a two-day bombing campaign that has targeted South Sudanese military positions along the two nations’ disputed border. No explosives fell from the aircraft 

Israel’s Sudanese refugee crisis and the citizen solution
Jerusalem Post
By Ben Hartman Recently, I took a stroll around the south of Tel Aviv near the central bus station where countless war refugees from Sudan congregate. Older generation Israelis are a minority in the area. Quickly they shuffle by on the polluted 

Sudan and S.Sudan start negotiations on possible cease fire in in the Ethiopian capital to avert all out war following days of airstrikes and bloody border violence

AFP , Wednesday 28 Mar 2012
Senior leaders from Sudan and South Sudan will meet Thursday in the Ethiopian capital to avert all out war following days of airstrikes and bloody border violence, officials on both sides said.

Sudan’s Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs Rahamatalla Mohamed Osman said he was in Addis Ababa “to represent my country in the negotiations… with regards to security along the border.”

South Sudan official Pagan Amum said he would travel to Ethiopia for African Union-mediated talks to stop the bitter clashes escalating into war.

“What we expect to achieve is the cessation of hostilities,” Amum said by telephone from the South Sudanese capital. “We will stop the fighting that is there, and ensure that this does not erupt into war between the two countries.”

Sudanese warplanes on Monday launched air raids on newly independent South Sudan, while the rival armies clashed in heavy battles.

Both sides claim the other started the fighting in contested oil-rich border regions, the worst since South Sudan declared independence from Khartoum last July after decades of civil war.

The meeting was scheduled to take place before fighting broke out Monday.

Osman said the mood remained tense, which could jeopardize further talks between the two countries.

“We are talking about security arrangements at a time when there are attacks,” he told AFP. “I am not sure we can accept any more offers (from the South),” he added, warning the clashes could create a stalemate.

However, Amum urged both sides to “rescue the positive spirit” of earlier talks, and said he remained confident fighting will stop after the meeting.

The African Union and the UN Security Council have called for an end to the violence, while US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Khartoum bore the responsibility for the renewed hostilities.

The pan-African body said Wednesday it was deeply concerned at an “escalating security situation” on the border between the former civil war foes, and called for troops to pull back 10 kilometres (six miles) either side of the border.


South Sudan
 official says Sudan bombs oil field

BusinessWeek
By MICHAEL ONYIEGO Sudan’s military bombed an oil field in South Sudan on Tuesday, a South Sudan official said, as a dangerous flare-up in border violence appeared to scuttle plans for a presidential summit between the two countries.
A Letter From South Sudan – Rearmament in Warrap State
AllAfrica.com
Sent to gather the guns of the civilians of Warrap State, they were part of the next round of rural disarmament in South Sudan. The Titweng were often cited as the principle target for disarmament. In contrast to previous disarmament attempts, 
AU Hopes Sudan-southSudan Meeting Will Have Positive Outcome
Bernama
ADDIS ABABA, March 28 (BERNAMA-NNN-ENA) — The chairman of the African Union (AU) Commission has expressed hope that the meeting between the leaders of Sudan and South Sudanin Juba early next month will have a positive outcome.
Sudan and South Sudan may slide back to war, world powers warn
CNN
By the CNN Wire Staff (CNN) — Sudan and South Sudan may be sliding back toward war, the United States and other international powers are warning, amid reports that Sudan is bombing its newly independent neighbor. The White House is “alarmed” by recent 

Camp Sees Influx From Sudan, South Sudan
AllAfrica.com
Twenty years later, the refugee camp in north-western Kenya is now filling up again with a new influx of people fleeing conflict in parts of South Sudan and Sudan. More than 4500 people have arrived in Kakuma camp so far this year, over 76 per cent of 

Sudan and South Sudan to meet amid border conflict
Ahram Online
Senior leaders from Sudan and South Sudan will meet Thursday in the Ethiopian capital to avert all out war following days of airstrikes and bloody border violence, officials on both sides said. Sudan’s Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs Rahamatalla 

Sudanese refugees to leave Israel
infolive.tv
Israel and South Sudan are working out a deal for the return of some 1500 refugees to their homes in the African republic, starting April 1. Refugees have returned voluntarily to South Sudan in the past. This happened on a small scale and did not 

KHARTOUM: Sudan govt announces liberation of border areas

Posted: March 28, 2012 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Sudan

Source: Kuwait News
KHARTOUM, March 27 (KUNA) — Sudanese forces have liberated all areas seized yesterday by the army of South Sudan in the border Kordofan State, director of security and intelligence said Tuesday.
   Mohammad Ata, at a news conference, said the Sudanese armed forces liberated Al-Kahraba area, three kilometers inside the Sudanese borders.
He explained that the South sudan army forces entered the area yesterday, but the Sudanese troops liberated the area and were still pursuing the attackers.
Ata said oil-related operations were not affected by the incident.
President of South Sudan Silva Kiir announced yesterday that his country’s army seized the oil Hjeilej area in retaliation of what he said the Sudanese army shelling.
The incident forced suspension of Sudanes president Omar Al-Bashir’s visit to South Sudan, scheduled for April 3, to thrash out outstanding issues.
South Sudan Pulls Back From Disputed Northern Town

Gabe Joselow | Nairobi

New recruits for the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) train in a secret camp in the Nuba mountains of South Kordofan, FILE July 11, 2011.

Photo: AFP
New recruits for the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) train in a secret camp in the Nuba mountains of South Kordofan, FILE July 11, 2011.

South Sudan has withdrawn its troops from a contested area north of the border in Sudan following clashes this week with Sudanese armed forces.  The renewed fighting has set back efforts to resolve multiple disputes between the two sides.

SPLA soldiers withdraws

South Sudan’s Deputy Defense Minister Majak D’Agoot says the army, known as the SPLA, has “disengaged” from the contested town of Heglig.

SPLA soldiers had pursued Sudanese forces into the area following purported air strikes in South Sudan’s Unity State earlier this week.  Khartoum has denied carrying out the air strikes, and has accused Juba of instigating the fighting.

D’Agoot told VOA that all SPLA troops had drawn back from Heglig by Tuesday, and are now conducting patrols south of the border. He said the move was an effort to calm tensions and to put African Union-mediated negotiations with Khartoum back on track.

“We have moved back because there was no strategic policy directing basic retaliatory action by our forces to pursue the aggressors into the contested zone because we want to settle this matter amicably, as part of the ongoing process under the AU in Addis,” D’Agoot said.

Dispute over oil

Khartoum and Juba had been involved in talks in Addis Ababa to settle a number of issues left unresolved when South Sudan declared independence from the north in July last year, following two decades of civil war.

On top of the agenda is a dispute over oil.  South Sudan shut down oil production in January after accusing Sudan of stealing oil being pumped through northern pipelines.  Khartoum says it was confiscating oil to compensate for unpaid transit fees.

African Union chairman Jean Ping has expressed “very deep concern” about escalating tensions between the sides.

In a statement issued late Tuesday, Ping said said “military means will never provide a long-term answer” to the issues affecting relations between the two countries.

Set-backs

The sides signed a memorandum of understanding last month agreeing to refrain from violence during the peace process.

South Sudan’s D’agoot says Khartoum was quick to violate the pact.

“Right from the time we signed the memorandum of understanding, they kissed it goodbye as soon as it was signed.  The following day they started air attacks on our territories and a number of land aggressions, so this is part of their strategy to continue to destabilize South Sudan,” he said.

Talks between the two sides appeared to be making progress on some remaining disputes before the recent clashes.

Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir was scheduled to attend a summit in Juba on April 3 to discuss citizenship issues and the final demarcation of the border with South Sudanese President Salva Kiir. Sudanese media reported this week the trip was canceled due to the violence.

http://www.voanews.com/english/news/africa/South-Sudan-Pulls-Back-From-Disputed-Northern-Town-144653005.html

UN Council ‘deeply alarmed’ by Sudan, South Sudan clashes

Posted: March 28, 2012 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Junub Sudan

By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – The U.N. Security Council expressed alarm on Tuesday at recent clashes between Sudan and South Sudan along their disputed border and urged both sides to halt military operations, warning the fighting could escalate into a new war.

Sudan and South Sudan blamed each other for the fighting. South Sudan said its neighbor Sudan launched air strikes on major oilfields in its Unity state on Tuesday, in one of the most serious reported confrontations since the South declared independence from Sudan in July.

“The Security Council call upon the governments of Sudan and South Sudan to exercise maximum restraint and sustain purposeful dialogue in order to address peacefully the issues that are fueling the mistrust between the two countries,” the 15-nation council said in a statement.

South Sudan won its independence under a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of civil war with Khartoum, but distrust still runs deep. Both sides are still at loggerheads over the position of their shared border and how much the landlocked south should pay to transport its oil through Sudan.

“The Security Council are deeply alarmed by the military clashes in the region bordering Sudan and South Sudan, which threaten to precipitate a resumption of conflict between the two countries, worsen the humanitarian situation and lead to further civilian casualties,” 15-nation council said.

Sudan denied launching air strikes but said its ground forces had attacked southern artillery positions which had fired at the disputed oil-producing area of Heglig that is partly controlled by Khartoum.

‘PATH OF PEACE’

“Our armed forces are ready to defend every inch of our territorial integrity whether it’s an attack or aggression from the government of South Sudan or the rebel movements,” Sudan’s U.N. ambassador, Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman, said on Tuesday.

He told reporters that while the U.N. Security council statement was not as strong as Khartoum would have liked, Sudan hoped it would “draw the attention of the south to come to their senses and respect the path of peace.”

Analysts have long said tensions between the countries could erupt into a full-blown war and disrupt the surrounding region, which includes some of Africa’s most promising economies.

The latest violence has already set back efforts to resolve the countries’ disputes. Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has suspended talks with his southern counterpart Salva Kiir aimed at resolving them, state media reported.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was worried about the fighting, which started on Monday along the border.

The Security Council also voiced concern about South Kordofan and Blue Nile states. It said council members stressed “the grave urgency of delivering humanitarian aid … in order to avert a worsening of the serious crisis in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states, Sudan.”

Clashes broke out between Sudan’s armed forces and rebels of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) in South Kordofan last June, then spread to Blue Nile state in September. Both areas border newly independent South Sudan.

http://af.reuters.com/article/topNews/idAFJOE82R00E20120328?feedType=RSS&feedName=topNews&sp=true

Sudanese border region sees second day of fighting over oil fields

South Sudan accuses neighbouring Sudan of dropping bombs on area as Ban Ki-Moon appeals both countries for calm.

Sudan People's Liberation Army and South Sudan government spokesmen

Sudan People’s Liberation Army spokesman Colonel Philip Aguer and South Sudan government spokesman Barnaba Marial Benjamin said South Sudan will not return to war with Khartoum. Photograph: Waakhe Wudy/AFP/Getty Images

South Sudan has accused its neighbour Sudan of waging war against it after a second day of fighting in the oil-rich border region – the worst confrontation since the countries split last year.

Ban Ki-Moon, the UN secretary-general, appealed for calm between the antagonists, which fought a long civil war before South Sudan gained independence in July last year. Oil is still the main source of hostility between the countries, which continue to spar over the border demarcation and other unresolved issues.

In a trade of claim and counter-claim, South Sudan alleged that Antonov warplanes dropped at least three bombs near oil fields in the town of Bentiu, Unity state, on Tuesday. “They are hovering and dropping over the northern part of town in the oil fields, the main Unity oil fields,” Gideon Gatpan, information minister for Unity, told the Associated Press. Sudan denied any air strikes.

The claim came a day after Sudan and South Sudan forces clashed in the border town of Jau. Each accused the other of starting the fighting.

South Sudan’s information minister, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, claimed that, “without any provocation”, Sudan bombed Jau before its ground forces and militia fighters moved in. South Sudan repulsed the “invading forces” back to the town of Heglig, Sudan, he added.

After the ominous flare-up on the border, Salva Kiir, the president of South Sudan, told a meeting in the capital, Juba: “It is a war that has been imposed on us again, but it is they [Sudan] who are looking for it,” he said.

But Sudanese authorities accused South Sudan of making the first move. Sudanese second vice-president Al-Haj Adam Yousif told state television: “These attacks are the responsibility of the SPLA [South Sudanese military] and the South Sudanese government. The SPLA attacks have targeted our oil and our army.”

Sudan alleged that the Darfur-based rebel group Justice and Equality Movement, or JEM, fought alongside the SPLA during Monday’s clash.

Mohamed Atta al-Moula, head of Sudan’s national security and intelligence services, told journalists in Khartoum: “We hope this will be no full war. We have no intentions beyond liberating our land.”

Analysts said the incidents could be the latest move in a long game of political chess. John Ashworth, a church adviser in South Sudan and resident for 29 years, said: “It’s too early to say whether this is an irreversible escalation or whether it is just another gambit in the extreme brinkmanship practised by both sides, attempting to improve their position in the on-and-off negotiations about a range of issues affecting both nations.”

Asian oil group GNPOC – the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company, a consortium led by China’s CNPC – confirmed Tuesday’s bombing. Hollywood actor and activist George Clooney has urged the United States to engage China on the issue, noting that China’s oil supply has been hit so there is an opportunity to appeal to its economic self-interest.

Ashworth added: “China probably has more influence in Khartoum [Sudan’s capital] than it does in Juba. There are plenty of other countries who can help South Sudan develop its oilfields, whereas Khartoum is short of friends to provide military hardware and protect it in the UN security council.

“It would be in China’s interest to protect its investment in both Sudan and South Sudan by attempting to moderate Khartoum’s military ambitions.”

The UN’s refugee agency warned that fighting in the Lake Jau border area was endangering Sudanese refugees in the nearby Yida settlement.

“Our concerns are heightened by clashes reported [on Monday] between the national armies of Sudan and South Sudan in Lake Jau and other border areas,” UNHCR’s chief spokesperson, Melissa Fleming, said in Geneva.

She added that UNHCR was in regular discussion with refugee leaders in the South Sudan settlement of Yida about “the urgent need to relocate in order to avoid civilian casualties among a population that has already endured a great deal of trauma.”

The fresh violence prompted Sudan to cancel President Omar al-Bashir’s trip to meet President Kiir next week. The leaders had been due to resume negotiations left over from a 2005 peace deal that eventually saw South Sudan secede from Sudan.

South Sudan had given assurances that Bashir would not be detained and handed over to the international criminal court, which has issued a warrant for his arrest.

Yousif said: “The visit of President Bashir was tied to good neighbourly relations. There is no way for this summit to take place now.”

But Barnaba Marial Benjamin said South Sudan still expects Bashir to attend the meeting next week. He said the “forces of war” in Khartoum were trying to derail the peace process, but not Bashir himself.

“Our president has said clearly we will not be dragged into a senseless war,” he told AP. “We will not be dragged into a conflict with Sudan.”

Earlier this year South Sudan stopped pumping oil because it said Sudan, which owns the crucial pipelines, was stealing its oil. Both countries have accused each other of supporting rebel groups on either side of the border, though both deny the allegations.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/mar/27/south-sudan-oil-fields-fighting?newsfeed=true

Sudanese Ruling Party Official Rejects South Sudan Attack Claims

Posted: March 28, 2012 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Junub Sudan

Peter Clottey

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir welcomes his South Sudanese counterpart Salva Kiir for his first visit since southern secession to discuss key unresolved issues that have undermined north-south relations, during his arrival at Khartoum Airport, Sudan, Oc

Photo: Reuters
Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir welcomes his South Sudanese counterpart Salva Kiir for his first visit since southern secession to discuss key unresolved issues that have undermined north-south relations, during his arrival at Khartoum Airport, Sudan, October 8, 2011.

The spokesman for Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) said the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) is to blame for attacks on South Sudan’s oil fields.

Rabie Abdelati Obeid said South Sudan President Salva Kiir previously admitted the SPLA “invaded and attacked the oil areas,” in that neighboring country.

“This is turned upside [down] because, yesterday [Monday], Salva Kiir, the president of South Sudan, declared that forces of SPLA invaded and attacked an area which is a part of Southern Sudan,” said Obeid.  “This accusation is actually against what has been declared and what was acknowledged by the president of Southern Sudan.”

Obeid’s comments came after Kiir said Sudan’s air force bombed two areas in the South Sudan’s Unity state.

Kiir said, after the bombing, the Sudanese army also attacked South Sudanese forces and the militia, but were able to repel them.  South Sudan insisted it will not be dragged into a senseless war with its northern neighbor.

Obeid said the allegations against Sudan sharply contradict Kiir’s admission.

“The armed forces of the South Sudan government came close to the petroleum area, about four kilometers inside the region, which belongs to the north,” said Obeid.  “That is why our government chased them far away from the area.  Our forces tried to negotiate with them and would not allow them to lift the flag of South Sudan government in that area.  They refused to do so, and then our government tried to drive them away.”

Obeid insists the army was protecting the country’s sovereignty, as well as maintain stability and peace within Sudan’s border.

The violence comes a day after both sides accused the other of crossing the tense, poorly marked border separating the two countries.  Both sides claimed they were acting in self-defense and declared victory following the fighting.

After Monday’s clashes, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir suspended a scheduled April 3rd summit with Kiir that were to be aimed at discussing disputes over the border and oil revenues.

Obeid said the SPLA attacks undermine the scheduled talks between leaders.

“They attacked our area and it is not going to be accepted.  This caused the suspension the summit between the two presidents expected to be held to resolve all the outstanding points,” said Obeid.  “[The attack] undermines all the procedures of achieving the resolution of the different points that are still being built between the two parties, which are the outstanding points of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement [CPA].”

Obeid said tensions between the two neighboring countries do not create a positive atmosphere for scheduled negotiations between the leaders.  And, he warned South Sudan to stop attacking Sudanese territory.

“They will lose by war what they have gained by peace.”

The United States has strongly condemned renewed military violence between Sudan and South Sudan and called on both sides to end the air strikes and attacks on the ground.

http://www.voanews.com/english/news/africa/Sudanese-Ruling-Party-Official-Rejects-South-Sudan-Attack-Claims–144473675.html

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