Khartoum — The Sudanese minister of foreign affairs, Ali Karti, took the stance before the parliament on Wednesday to defend his country's acceptance of a UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution ordering it to return to negotiations with South Sudan.
Karti told parliamentarians that Sudan has no choice but to comply with the resolution which, according to him, is better than the African Union (AU)'s roadmap that formed its basis in the sense that it threw the ball back to the two countries' negotiating teams and met Sudan's demands for prioritizing security issues.
Months of AU-mediated negotiations between Sudan and South Sudan over oil exports, citizenship, disputed borders and security floundered dangerously in early April, leading shortly after to military confrontations between around the disputed oil-producing region known as Heglig in Sudan and as Panthou in South Sudan.
Alarmed by the situation, the AU produced a roadmap ordering the two countries to cease hostilities immediately and return to negotiations with a three-month deadline to conclude them.
The AU then referred the roadmap to the UNSC which, on May 2, issued a resolution adopting the recommendations its recommendations and threatening both countries with non-military sanctions if they failed to comply.
Sudan's top diplomat reassured the parliament on the UNSC's threats of sanctions, claiming that Khartoum did not initiate any hostilities and was not involved in arming groups rebelling against the South Sudanese government in Juba.
Karti said that Khartoum is serious in returning to negotiations but will not do so unless priority is accorded to resolving security issues.
Khartoum accuses Juba of supporting rebels who once fought as part of South Sudan's army and are now fighting against the government in Sudan's border regions of South Kordofan and Blue Nile. Juba denies the charge and accuses Khartoum of doing the same with southern rebel groups.
The Sudanese government appears to believe that it can crush the rebels militarily if South Sudan ceases to support them.
"We will not steer away from security issues. Sudan will not negotiate on the issues of oil and other material interests with a dagger on its back," Karti said.
The minister also said that Khartoum has nothing to fear from returning to talks, in response to extremist elements calling for no negotiations with South Sudan.
The Sudanese government is under pressure from hard-line figures in the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) as well as from the far-right Just Peace Forum (JPF) to defy the UNSC resolution.
Three days ago, Al-Tayyib Mustafa, JPF's leader and uncle of President Omer Al-Bashir, issued a statement criticizing the UNSC resolution and vowing that his party will oppose it by all legitimate means.
Karti urged rational and wise dealing with the UNSC resolution, promising that the government will not sign any deal that is not in the interest of Sudan.
In response to Karti's address, the parliament's speaker, Ahmad Ibrahim Al-Tahir, warned that parliamentarians would not approve of any step that harms that interest of Sudanese people.