[Dehai-WN] BBC: South Sudan Nhial Deng Nhial: We are on brink of war

From: Berhane Habtemariam <Berhane.Habtemariam_at_gmx.de_at_dehai.org>
Date: Fri, 9 Dec 2011 23:50:35 +0100

South Sudan Nhial Deng Nhial: We are on brink of war

9 December 2011 Last updated at 15:39 GMT


Nhial Deng Nhial said South Sudan's army was no longer connected to rebels
in the north

South Sudan's foreign minister has warned his country is on the brink of war
with Sudan following days of fierce fighting along the border.

Nhial Deng Nhial told the BBC Sudanese forces had invaded the town of Jau,
which was in the south.

He urged the international community to intervene and said he hoped
full-scale hostilities could still be avoided.

South Sudan seceded from the north in July following years of civil war in
which some 1.5m people died.

The border between the north and south has not yet been officially

Since July Khartoum and Juba have accused each other of supporting rebels in
the border areas.

'Tanks and aircraft'

Mr Deng Nhial said the clashes in Jau, which he said was a town in Unity
state, were the biggest threat to peace since South Sudan's independence.

"Although there have been frequent aerial bombardments of different places
in the Republic of South Sudan, we think that Khartoum has raised this
offensive to an entirely new level by committing ground forces to cross into
the Republic of South Sudan," he told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme.

"We are still very much committed to the principle of dialogue with Khartoum
- we are still hopeful that we can pull back from the brink of outright

Earlier, Col Philip Aguer, spokesman for South Sudan's army - the South
People's Liberation Army (SPLA) - told the BBC that Khartoum had used tanks
and long-range artillery in the offensive on Jau, which started on Saturday.

Antonov aircraft had also bombed the area, he said.

Southern troops had now recaptured the town, but Sudanese soldiers were
still in South Sudan, he said.

"This is a war situation and if they don't withdraw, the SPLA will force
them out," Col Aguer told the AFP news agency.

Across the border in the state of South Kordofan, Sudan's army has for
several months been battling rebels, who once fought against Khartoum during
the civil war.

South Kordofan is one of several border areas which failed to hold popular
consultations about their future ahead of South Sudan's independence.

Mr Deng Nhial denied accusations that his government was supporting the
rebels in the northern border areas, known as the SPLM-North.

"We had been associated with the SPLM-North during the years of our
struggle. After independence we severed all military ties with our units in
the north and we didn't provide any additional equipment," he said.

The foreign minister said it was important that the border be properly

"Khartoum continues to drag its feet although we are agreed that close to
80% of the border is no longer in dispute," he said.

"This in our mind raises serious suspicions."

Map showing disputed border area of Abyei

Outstanding secession issues

. Blue Nile and South Kordofan have not had popular consultations about
their future, due before the split

. Abyei has not held a referendum on whether to join north or south, due
before the split

. Sharing oil revenues

. Exact border demarcation


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