S.Sudan police withdraw from disputed Abyei-UN
Fri May 11, 2012 11:21pm GMT
* Growing border clashes threaten return to war in Abyei
* UN Council to vote on peacekeeping renewal on May 16
* U.S. welcomes Juba's move, urges Khartoum to act (Adds U.S. reaction,
By Michelle Nichols
UNITED NATIONS, May 11 (Reuters) - South Sudan has withdrawn its police from
the disputed Abyei region on its border with Sudan, the United Nations said
on Friday, after the U.N. Security Council threatened the African neighbors
with sanctions to try and stop an escalating conflict.
Sudan and South Sudan both claim Abyei, a border region containing fertile
grazing land, which Khartoum took in May last year - triggering the exodus
of tens of thousands of civilians - after a southern attack on an army
Recent border clashes between Sudan and South Sudan, which culminated with
South Sudan seizing a disputed oil field, prompted the Security Council to
pass a resolution last week threatening sanctions if the two sides did not
follow an African Union roadmap stipulating a cease-fire and a return to
"The U.N. Interim Security Force for Abyei reports that yesterday South
Sudan's inspector general officially ordered the withdrawal of the South
Sudan police service from the Abyei area," U.N. Secretary-General Ban
Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters.
"Following the announcement, some 700 South Sudan police, with the U.N.
mission's logistical support, relocated to South Sudan," he said. "The U.N.
mission is in the process of verifying that all South Sudan police elements
have withdrawn from the Abyei area."
The withdrawal comes almost two weeks after South Sudan told the United
Nations it planned to pull its police out of Abyei, where the world body has
3,800 peacekeepers. ID:nL5E8FT0NY]
Nesirky said South Sudanese police officers had been ordered not to visit
family in the Abyei area in uniform and with guns.
The United Nations said in March that Sudan has 400-500 troops in Abyei and
South Sudan has about 300 soldiers based less than two miles south of its
border with Abyei.
South Sudan seceded from Sudan in July, six months after a referendum agreed
under a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of civil war that killed more
than 2 million people. Such a vote was also planned in Abyei but never held
because both sides cannot agree on who can participate.
A senior Western diplomat said on Wednesday that it was often difficult to
verify allegations South Sudan and Sudan are making against each other. But
he said that if the two sides fail to withdraw from the disputed border area
of Abyei by May 16 as demanded by the council, talk of sanctions would
The United States welcomed the withdrawal of the South Sudanese police and
urged Sudan to pull its troops out of Abyei and end aerial bombardments of
South Sudan. Khartoum has denied launching airstrikes on its neighbor.
"We urge all parties to abide by their agreement to a cessation of
hostilities and the resumption of negotiations on outstanding security and
political issues," U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said in
The Security Council is due to vote on the renewal of the mandate for the
U.N. peacekeeping force i n Abyei on May 16.
In a May 2 resolution, the Security Council gave the two sides a 48-hour
ultimatum to halt violence and three months to resolve all disputes under
threat of sanctions.
Distrust runs deep between the neighbors, who are at loggerheads over the
position of their shared border and how much the landlocked south should pay
to transport its oil through Sudan.
Analysts have long said tensions between the countries could erupt into a
full-blown war and disrupt the surrounding region, which includes some of
Africa's most promising economies. (Editing by Anthony Boadle and Stacey
C Thomson Reuters 2012 All rights reserved
Sudan and S.Sudan at odds over talks after fighting
Thu May 10, 2012 3:14pm GMT
* Juba says it does not want war, can discuss all issues
* South Sudan waiting for AU to set date for fresh talks
* Bashir says no talks on oil before security (Recasts with Bashir's
By Pascal Fletcher and Yara Bayoumy
JUBA/KHARTOUM, May 10 (Reuters) - South Sudan said on Thursday it was ready
to reopen negotiations "any time" on a range of disputes with its northern
neighbour Sudan after a spasm of fighting, but Khartoum said there could be
no such talks unless the two sides settled security issues.
The two countries have been at loggerheads over oil, security and frontier
disputes that ignited border clashes last month and for a while raised fears
of full-blown war in one of Africa's most significant oil regions.
South Sudan Minister of Cabinet Affairs Deng Alor told reporters that his
country, which became independent from Sudan last year, was committed to
complying with a U.N. Security Council resolution last week that called on
both countries to negotiate their differences peacefully or face sanctions.
"We are ready to go for negotiations any time ... I expect negotiations to
resume any time from now," Alor told a news conference in the South Sudanese
The May 2 Security Council resolution endorsed an African Union plan
demanding that Khartoum and Juba cease hostilities, withdraw troops from
disputed areas and resume talks within two weeks on all outstanding
disputes. It gave them three months to resolve the issues under threat of
But the north's president Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who accuses South Sudan of
supporting rebel militia along the disputed border, said there would be no
talks unless the civil war foes resolved their security issues.
"In the coming negotiations, if we don't solve the security problems ...
there will be no talk over any other clause - not oil, not trade, not
citizenship, not Abyei, or any other file," Bashir told a group of oil and
mining workers on Thursday.
Sudan on Wednesday said its army had liberated the areas of Kafen Dabbi and
Kafya Kenji in South Darfur from the "remnants of the Southern army". South
Sudan contests these areas. The army also repelled rebels who had seized
control of a town in south Darfur, as part of their campaign to topple
GOING THE EXTRA MILE
South Sudan on Wednesday accused Sudan's armed forces of carrying out fresh
bombing raids on border areas. Khartoum routinely denies such accusations.
But Alor said the new attacks alleged by his government did not affect its
commitment to resume talks with Sudan on the thorny issues of oil exports,
security, border demarcation and citizenship that have remained unresolved
since South Sudan became the world's newest independent nation last year.
"We are ready to go the extra mile to negotiations," he said. "Nobody is
interested in war, we don't want it, the international community doesn't
want it and the region doesn't want it."
Alor said South Sudan was waiting for former South African President Thabo
Mbeki, the head of a high-level AU panel tasked with resolving the disputes
between north and south, to formally call the two sides to resume talks on a
The AU road map for talks made resolving the dispute over oil a priority,
"It's a priority for everybody, for us, the Government of Sudan, for
investors and for the AU," he said. "We are committed to negotiations and
Sudan said it supported the U.N. resolution, but pointed out it could have
difficulties implementing parts of it.
"The clauses we want to implement, we will implement. And what we don't want
to implement, we won't. Neither the Security Council, nor the (AU) Peace and
Security Council, nor the whole world will make us implement it," Bashir
Specifically Khartoum accuses South Sudan's ruling party, the Sudan People's
Liberation Movement, of backing its civil war ally, the Sudan People's
Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), which is fighting Sudanese government
forces in Sudan's South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.
Alor denied that South Sudan was giving any support to the SPLM-N. "We are
definitely friends (with the SPLM-N), but that does not mean that we will
support them militarily," he said.
But Bashir vowed to play hardball with South Sudan, whose ruling party he
"We tell them if you want a second lesson, we will give you a second and
third lesson because you (the South Sudan government) do not understand," he
Sudan, which was Africa's largest country before South Sudan broke away last
year, lost three quarters of the oil output previously produced by unified
Sudan. Khartoum and Juba have quarrelled over oil transit fees for carrying
South Sudanese crude through Sudan's pipelines and Red Sea port.
In January, the dispute led to South Sudan shutting down oil production, and
the reduced output and depleted revenue have put severe strain on both
countries' fragile economies. (Additional reporting by Hereward Holland;
writing by Pascal Fletcher and Yara Bayoumy; editing by Andrew Roche)
C Thomson Reuters 2012 All rights reserved
INTERVIEW-Oil will bring downfall of Sudan government - Turabi
Thu May 10, 2012 12:24pm GMT
> Print |
* Oil accounts for 90 percent of Sudan's exports
* Economy suffers from loss of oil revenues
* Turabi says hungry people out in the street soon
By Yara Bayoumy
KHARTOUM, May 10 (Reuters) - Sudan's loss of billions of dollars of oil
revenues will bring down the government as inflation soars, the economy
buckles and people grow hungrier, opposition leader Hassan al-Turabi said in
Oil once accounted for 90 percent of exports, but Sudan's economy took a
beating when South Sudan gained independence in July and took away most of
the known crude reserves.
Citizens have since had to cope with inflation at nearly 30 percent and a
rapidly devaluing currency in a country where the economy is already reeling
from U.S. trade sanctions and the cost of renewed conflict with South Sudan
"Hatred for the regime is intensifying now in the country," Turabi, the
leader of the opposition Popular Congress Party told Reuters in a recent
interview in Khartoum.
"The economic crisis has intensified and this is very dangerous. If the
hungry go out in a revolution, they will break and destroy ... I expect it
won't take us long now," Turabi said.
Turabi was one of the most powerful figures in Sudanese politics in the
1980s and 1990s and his comments still attract widespread attention.
But the Islamist and former spiritual mentor to Sudan's President Omar
Hassan al-Bashir has seen his influence decline sharply since the two men
Sudan's government dismissed Turabi's statement, denying the economic
situation was that gloomy.
"What Turabi says is not based on reality ... the economic situation is not
as bad as Turabi is saying," said information ministry advisor Rabie
Abdelatie, adding the situation was much worse in the 1980s.
"There was no infrastructure, no oil, no development, no electricity.
There's a big difference."
Recent data have painted a bleak picture of the Sudanese economy.
The loss of oil revenues has left the country with $2.4 billion gap in
public finances as well as a trade deficit of $540 million at the end of
this quarter, compared to a surplus of $1.7 billion in the same period last
The government has also raised custom fees and a social development tax by
"The government is completely broke. If hunger intensifies, people, along
with their other reasons for anger ... we are worried that a revolution will
come, which will lead to chaos," said Turabi, who has in the past called for
the "downfall of the regime" through a popular movement instead of a
Protests inspired by the "Arab Spring" demonstrations have failed to take
hold in Sudan where political expression is severely restricted, but food
protests have ended previous administrations in what was once Africa's
In 1985, all it took was about 10 days of protests against food inflation to
topple President Jaafar Nimeiri.
Besides a border conflict with the South, Sudan's army is facing
insurgencies from Darfur rebel groups and militias in other border states
that it accuses South Sudan of supporting. South Sudan's government denies
Sudan lost three-quarters of its roughly 500,000 bpd of crude oil output
when South Sudan gained independence in July under a 2005 settlement that
ended two decades of civil war.
Turabi said the government's major mistake was in destroying the agriculture
sector, which in the early 1990s accounted for nearly all exports.
"It's a stupid policy. All agriculture was killed in Sudan because of oil,"
Turabi said. (Writing by Yara Bayoumy; Editing by Andrew Heavens)
C Thomson Reuters 2012 All rights reserved
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Received on Sat May 12 2012 - 18:24:38 EDT