30 January 2013

South Sudan Accuses Sudan of Imposing Economic War

Juba — Sudan is attempting to impose an "economic war" on its Southern neighbour, a senior South Sudan official said Wednesday, in the latest iteration of the bad relations between the two nations.

Bol Makueng, a senior member of South Sudan's ruling party - the SPLM - told Sudan Tribune that the Sudanese government "remained a headache" for the young country.

Khartoum "has made several attempts to undermine [the] sovereignty of the Republic of South Sudan without success" Makueng said, referring to the occasional flare-up of border conflicts and the intermittent bombing of Southern territory by the Sudanese air force.

The Sudanese government has instead to "decided to roll out another strategy", he said, "which is to impose economic war but they will still fail".

Tensions over the unresolved differences from South Sudan's independence in 2011 prompted the Juba-based SPLM to halt oil production a year ago after accusing Khartoum of stealing its crude oil in 2012.

Despite a deal in September, oil production has not resumed as Sudan has demanded that security issues along the shared border be resolved before allowing Southern crude to pass through its territory again.

The shutdown has severely affected the economies of both nations.

At a recent meeting at the African Union the two sides agreed to implement existing agreements but failed to make breakthroughs on other outstanding issues. Juba accuses Khartoum creating additional conditions before allowing Southern crude to reach international markets.

Landlocked South Sudan is considering building an alternative pipeline to Kenya to and its will open two refineries this year to avoid being reliant on Sudanese infrastructure.

This week Juba accused the international community of not taking bold decisions to force the two sides to resolve their differences.

The two sides were this week in the Ethiopians capital of Addis Ababa discussing how the September deals could be implemented, particularly the creation and operationalisation of the safe demilitarize buffer zone (SDBZ), which puts pressure on the both sides to pull their troops at least 10 kilometers from their current positions on the disputed border.

One of the contentious issues is the demand by the Sudanese government on the government of the republic of South Sudan to break ties with a coalition of Sudanese rebel groups, particularly their former comrades - the SPLM-North - who have been fighting the Sudanese army since 2011.

The other main sticking point is the status of the contested areas along the border as well as the future of the fertile oil-producing region of Abyei and the 14 Mile area on the common border.

Political differences between the two sides heightened in April 2012, leading to military engagement in the contested border region of Panthou, an area known as Heglig in Sudan.

South Sudan's troops took control of the area for 10 days before pulling out in response to international pressure and condemnation.

"The government of the Republic South Sudan under the capable leadership of President Salva Kiir Mayardit has regularly been advocating that there never be a military solution to the conflict, and unless we want to engage in an endless war, the best way out of the crisis is dialogue", explained Makueng, who is the head of information, Culture and Communications at the National Secretariat.

According to Makueng, President Kiir "has repeatedly said it that he would not accept the two countries return[ing] to war because war is not in the best interest of both countries. This is the statement which shows that he is someone committed to peaceful settlement of any dispute and promotion of mutual understanding so that we forge better relationship and promote the vision of two viable states living side by side instead of tearing each other apart."

Sudan has adamantly refused to cooperate on issues of mutual benefit to the two nations, he said.

"Sudan has never shown any interest in peaceful settlement of any dispute, instead it has always remained defied to intervention by the international community. It continued to launch attack on areas inside South Sudan. It armed forces this month carried out attack in Northern and Western Bahr el Ghazal, killing innocent civilians and destroying their source of life while we are in talk[s] in Addis", he said.

Ambassador John Adruga, who like Makueng is seen as a SPLM hardliner, said in a televised statement on South Sudan Television (SSTV) on Wednesday that his country "had done all it could" but received little support from the global community.

"We have done everything, honoured the agreement in its entirety, yet Sudan remained defied to resolutions of the African Union and Security Council of the United Nations and the international community which quickly saw our response to the aggression by Sudan in April decided to keep quiet. Sudan is attacking us, kill our people along the border and continue to remain in Abyei and nothing is being done. Where is justice, where is fairness", asked Andruga.

Sudan denies bombing South Sudan and accuses the SPLM of backing its former comrades the other side of the border - the SPLM-North - who have been fighting the Khartoum government since 2011.

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