South Sudan: Muslim Council Calls for 'Leadership Decision' Over Border Conflict

Juba — South Sudan Muslim Council on Monday called for an immediate leadership decision to amicably resolve the dispute threatening a return to a full-blown conflict between Juba and Khartoum.

Speaking at a press briefing on Monday, Secretary General of the Muslim Council, Atahir Bior, said it was time that the political leaders in the South Sudan and neighbouring Sudan take "decisive action" to end the threat to peace and social ties between the two countries and find ways to give the people hope that a resolution can be achieved.

"It is high time the international community come out with a clear position and tell leaders in the North, particularly president Bashir and his group that war is not the solution", said Atahir.

He claimed that the government in Khartoum is "confusing the general public there" about issues which were not resolved after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which ended the Sudanese civil war in 2005 and "mobilizing the youth and clerics in mosques in Khartoum to preach hate against the South and its people".

Fundamentalists attacked a church in Khartoum in April.

Residents of the area told Sudan Tribune that the same group has threatened to attack the church before and called for deportation of southerners whom they described as foreigners.

They made the same threat following Sudanese army's announcement that it had recaptured the Heglig region when it was invaded by the South Sudan army (SPLA).

Khartoum has ruled out dual citizenship for more than 500,000 southerners who have lived in the north for decades and started treating them as foreigners since the end of a grace period.

Atahir expressed concern about the situation where leading political parties in the two countries are engaged in activities that are likely to endanger future peaceful coexistence.

"There are many orphans, widows and elderly people whose children were killed in the past conflicts who in the event of confusion for another conflict between the two countries may have nowhere to go but will be the victims again", said Atahir.

He claimed that there are warmongers in Khartoum such as Nafie Ali Nafie who allegedly said that the Eritrean Christians are preferable to South Sudanese Muslims.

Sabit Abdullah, a member of the council contributing at the same briefing said the description of South Sudanese Muslims was "confused and unfaithful" and an "insult" to Islam.

Bol Makueng, secretary of information in the South Sudan's ruling Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) said "It was and has been Sudan that [is] aiming at returning the countries back to war".

Makueng said "the bellicose attitude and intransigence of the Sudanese government has not stopped. They are stilling carrying out aerial bombardments in areas inside South Sudan; killing innocent people and international community that has the courage to condemn it is quiet".

He said his party would only resume oil-production if there are assurances that Khartoum will not steal it while being transported to the international markets through its territories.

He said the border issues including Abyei and popular consultations are part of the issues in the CPA which Khartoum has refused to implement because the National Congress Party intended tp annex some resource-rich areas in its territories

"They speak of the border areas which have not been demarcated but twisting things around does not ameliorate Sudan's stance at all", he added.

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