In Spite of Intense Pressure from the UN, EU and AU, South Sudan’s President Kiir refuses to pull out troops from Heglig

Posted: April 12, 2012 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Junub Sudan
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South Sudan Says Won’t Withdraw Troops
by The Associated Press
JUBA, South Sudan April 12, 2012, 08:27 am ET
JUBA, South Sudan (AP) — South Sudan’s president said Thursday that the nation will not withdraw its troops that this week entered a disputed border region with Sudan.
South Sudan President Salva Kiir spoke to parliament in the midst of escalating clashes along the border with Sudan. He said the country’s military would also re-enter another disputed area, Abyei, currently occupied by Sudan if the United Nations does not urge Sudan to withdraw.
Troops from South Sudan on Wednesday captured the oil-rich border town of Heglig that is claimed by Sudan, whose troops withdrew under the onslaught. Kiir said that South Sudan’s military forces, the SPLA, had also advanced past Heglig after occupying it.
“They pursued them up to the so called Heglig. But these forces did not stop in Heglig, there was not fighting in Heglig,” he said.
Heglig has been the focal point of more than two weeks of clashes between the two nations. Both sides claim the area, but Sudan operates Heglig’s oil facilities, which account for nearly half of the country’s daily production. The town is 100 kilometers (60 miles) east of the disputed region of Abyei, whose fate was left unresolved when South Sudan split last year from Sudan.
Fighting along the north-south border has been near constant over the past two weeks. On Thursday, South Sudan accused Sudan of bombing the capital of Unity State, Bentiu.
SPLA spokesman Col. Philip Aguer said that Antonov aircraft belonging to Sudan dropped five bombs on a bridge linking Bentiu to neighboring Rubkotna. The two towns comprise Unity State’s most populated area.
“This is an indiscriminate bombing,” and according to initial reports one civilian was killed and four were wounded in the attack, Aguer said.
President Kiir said he had received numerous appeals from the international community to withdraw SPLA troops from the disputed territory, including a call from United Nation’s Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon.
“Last night I never slept because of the telephone calls,” he said. “Those who have been calling me —starting with the U.N. secretary-general yesterday — he gave me an order that I’m ordering you to immediately withdraw from Heglig. I said I’m not under your command,” Kiir said.
The military advance by South Sudan into territory it claims but which is internationally recognized as Sudan’s brought swift condemnation from the United States and Britain. Both nations, along with the U.N. Security Council, urged South Sudan to withdraw from the town of Heglig and condemned the bombings of South Sudan territory by Sudan.
Kiir said he also urged the U.N. secretary-general to re-engage Sudan on the disputed territory of Abyei.
“We withdrew from Abyei. Bashir occupied Abyei and is still there up to today,” Kiir said. “I told the secretary-general that if you are not moving out with this force of Bashir, we are going to reconsider our position and we are going back to Abyei.”
Fighting erupted in Abyei between Sudan and South Sudan May of last year, just months before South Sudan formally declared independence from Sudan.
The region was to hold a referendum in January to decide whether it stays with Sudan or joins a newly independent South. But the vote was postponed indefinitely amid disagreements over who would be eligible to vote.
The fighting has displaced more than 100,000 people, most of whom are still waiting to return.
The continued clashes have dimmed hopes for a resolution between the two countries on a host of issues left over from their July split, including oil-sharing, citizenship issues and the demarcation of the border.

South Sudan’s President Kiir refuses to pull out troops from Heglig

April 12, 2012 (JUBA) — South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayadrit brushed aside calls to withdraw his army from the oil-rich region of Heglig after being asked to do so in order to avoid a return of war with the north.

JPEG - 29.9 kb
Salva Kiir

Kiir was reacting to international calls from the African Union (AU), United Nations (UN) and United States and . Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General also called him on Wednesday requesting the same.

In a remarkable shift from his “no return to war” previous stances, Kiir told the members of South Sudan parliament he would not order a withdrawal.

Kiir said that this message was delivered to all world leaders who contacted him including UN chief whom he said gave him “an order”.

“I told him you do not need to order me because I am not under your command. I am a head of state accountable to my people and do not have to be ordered by someone I do not fall under his direct command. I will not withdraw the troops,” he said

Kiir argued to Ban that the international community does not equally give same concern when Khartoum assaults them and gave an example when the Sudanese army moved into Abyei it in May 2010.

The South Sudan leader said he told Ban that if Khartoum does not pull out its army from Abyei he would send his troops to fight them.

He went on to recount events that led to Heglig’s occupation.

“I want to tell you clearly what happened at border. I think you all know that a summit was supposed to be held here in Juba on 3 April, 2012 but this did not take place because there were voices in Khartoum who felt the south Sudan was not secure. I told them no. South Sudan was more secure than any other country in the world for president Bashir”, Kiir said

He explained that he rejected international pressure calling upon him at the time to arrest Bashir if he comes to South Sudan because he could not see any logic to do so.

“I asked them why and they said because he is wanted by the international criminal court for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Darfur for killing of 300,000 people. I told them why would I arrest Bashir for 300,000 people killed in Darfur while the international community did not bother to indict him for crimes he committed in the South where he killed over 2 million people”, Kiir told the house.

He said the conflict in Heglig began when Sudan Armed forces collaboratively with militia forces launched an attack on April 1st with the intention to extend tie-in pipe line to Unity state but that they were repulsed by the SPLA forces and were followed into Heglig.

“They went back to regroup and launched another attack on April 10th. They were again repulsed and followed into Heglig and the SPLA took control of the town. The SPLA are now in a complete control of the Heglig and beyond. They will not pull out. They will remain there so that this issue is resolve once and for all even though we did not want war as a resolve”, Kiir told the house amid applause chatting “SPLA, SPLA, SPLA”.

He said he did not sleep last night because he was receiving a lot of international calls asking him to consider withdrawing troops from the contested area but rejected them.


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