The Citizen (Juba)

4 May 2012

South Sudan: Ministry Bars Foreigners Without Documents Entering Panthou

Deputy Minister of Interior Wednesday issued an order preventing foreign nationals from entering Panthou (Heglig) without proper documents from South Sudan's immigration office.

Salva Mathok Gengdit warned that if a foreigner attempts to go to Panthou without acquiring legal documents from the immigration office the ministry will consider it as violation of sovereignty and integrity of the country and stern legal steps will be taken against such intruder.

"All foreigners have to understand that Panthou is within Unity State in the Republic of South Sudan," he said.

Mathok added that the pull out by the SPLA forces following order from the President was in response to international community call and doesn't mean Panthou belongs to Sudan.

He further said that technically, Panthou is still under SPLA long range artilleries capability to reach it.

"There is nothing that can prevent SPLA to return to Panthou if the international community is seeing South Sudan is being invaded by Sudan," he stated in the release.

"All foreigners moving to Panthou without approval from Juba will be dealt with if captured by the SPLA and shall be charged of entering South Sudan illegally," he repeated.

The two countries have been unable to resolve disputes over borders, oil, and citizenship stemming from the South's independence last July.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement calling on the governments of both countries to withdraw from Panthou as a contested area and call for immediate resumption of negotiations.

Meanwhile Government spokesman Barnaba Marial Benjamin on Wednesday said that troops from the South had eventually withdrawn from Panthou and accused Sudan's continued bombing of the region after the pullout.

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