The Star (Nairobi)

16 May 2014

South Sudan: East - West Tussle for Oil 'Sparked South Sudan War'

STRUGGLE between the Western and Eastern countries over control of oil fields in Southern Sudan is behind the ongoing conflicts in the country, South Sudan's minister for information and broadcasting Michael Makuei has said.

Speaking in Nairobi yesterday, the minister who also doubles up as the spokesperson for Government of Southern Sudan, said some Western countries are trying to push out President Salva Kiir's government so as to install "a friendly" regime.

"When oil was discovered in Southern Sudan, one of our brothers told us we were very unlucky we had started on a wrong footing. This is because oil is a blessing in disguise but a problem too and this is the real situation," Makuei said.

The minister, who is also a lead negotiator for GOSS in the ongoing talks in Addiss Ababa, Ethiopia, said: "Our oils are managed by Chinese, a contract we inherited from the Sudan government. When we got our independence we didn't want to interfere with that and now there are great concerns that we are seen to be moving towards the East and distancing ourselves from the West the reason for undeclared war."

"It is being fought with the aim of removing a democratically-elected government of Salva Kiir that doesn't listen so as they can bring in a government that can listen and obey the orders. Nevertheless the oil is ours and we are free to allow it to be exploited by anybody. No one can direct or dictate to us on this even if we are a young state, because we are sovereign." Makuei called on the international community and the region to stop pushing South Sudan to the wall.

"The support we need from Kenya, the region and international community is not to press a democratically-elected government on the wall. If the region commits that mistake and pushes out a democratically-elected government, then it is the regional government's should start thinking who will be pushed out next because we would have set bad precedence for the opportunists," he said. Makuei said removal of the current government in Southern Sudan should be done through the ballot.

Responding to questions about the negotiations in Addis Ababa, Makuei denied claims that the international community is favouring the rebel group led by Riek Machar.

"I don't say they are biased but they have vested interests that is not in conformity with the interests of South Sudan. Instead of dictating solutions to us, they should facilitate the two parties to sit down and come up with a solution," he said.

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