S. Sudan says Sudan still bombing, won't be dragged to war
Mon Apr 2, 2012 1:59pm GMT
By Yara Bayoumy
NAIROBI, April 2 (Reuters) - South Sudan said on Monday Sudanese forces were
still bombing regions in the oil-producing area straddling their border, but
insisted it would not be dragged into war.
South Sudan's Information Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin accused Khartoum
of wanting to deter investment in the crucial oil sector of the country that
split from the north in July.
Western nations fear the latest border clashes could escalate to a
full-blown civil war between the mainly Muslim north and the South where
most have either Christian or animist beliefs.
"For the last month, the Republic of Sudan in Khartoum has been bombing
mostly the Unity state and our oil fields. For the last month, they've been
bombing villages and small towns and as we speak today they are still
continuing bombing some of these areas," Benjamin told reporters in the
Kenyan capital, Nairobi.
"They are still continuing at random all over Unity State, of course the
purpose also is (to) sabotage the investment in oil," he said.
Sudan's army spokesman has denied allegations made by South Sudan that it
had attacked Manga and Panakuach in Unity State.
South Sudan became independent from the north under a 2005 peace agreement
that ended decades of civil war which killed 2 million people.
Benjamin said South Sudanese President Salva Kiir was adamant the country
would not be dragged back into conflict.
"We will not be dragged into the war ... but we will defend the territorial
integrity of our country," Benjamin told reporters. "We will not cross into
the Republic of Sudan but we will protect our territorial integrity."
Benjamin said the government in Juba was confident outstanding issues,
including a border dispute and a row over citizenship could be resolved
through peaceful dialogue using the African Union and other international
TALKS IN ADDIS ABABA
The two governments were expected to resume delayed negotiations later on
Monday, members of an African Union panel mediating the talks told Reuters.
"They (talks) are still continuing, but while they are continuing, they are
bombing us," Benjamin said, adding that Sudan's defence and foreign
ministers should be in the Ethiopian capital by now.
The two sides also need to decide how much landlocked South Sudan must pay
to export its crude oil through Sudan. Juba has shut down its entire oil
production to stop Khartoum seizing oil as compensation for what Khartoum
calls unpaid transit fees.
South Sudan has said it is prepared to pay up to $1 per barrel in transit
fees - well below the $36 Benjamin said Khartoum has been demanding.
In the meantime Benjamin said South Sudan had signed contracts with an
American company and a Chinese company to build two refineries.
"These refineries are for the time being to meet some local needs and needs
in the region," he said, adding the U.S. company was from Texas while the
Chinese company was already on the ground. He gave no further details.
Both countries have also yet to mark a 1,800 km (1,200 mile) border, much of
which is contested, or find a solution to the disputed border region of
Abyei. Each side also accuses the other of supporting rebels on each other's
Benjamin criticised the African Union for its slow pace in moving to mediate
between the two parties.
"The AU is sitting pretty ... We are asking the African Union if they cannot
double their steps so that they can bring a positive solution to these
problems, then IGAD (regional group) should not sit around." (Editing by
Richard Lough and Alison Williams)
C Thomson Reuters 2012 All rights reserved
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Received on Mon Apr 02 2012 - 15:34:57 EDT