Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sudan Ruling Party Rejects South's Claim of Aerial Attacks

March 27, 2012

Sudanese Ruling Party Official Rejects South Sudan Attack Claims

Peter Clottey

The spokesman for Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) said the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) is to blame for attacks on South Sudan’s oil fields.

Rabie Abdelati Obeid said South Sudan President Salva Kiir previously admitted the SPLA “invaded and attacked the oil areas,” in that neighboring country.

“This is turned upside [down] because, yesterday [Monday], Salva Kiir, the president of South Sudan, declared that forces of SPLA invaded and attacked an area which is a part of Southern Sudan,” said Obeid. “This accusation is actually against what has been declared and what was acknowledged by the president of Southern Sudan.”

Obeid’s comments came after Kiir said Sudan’s air force bombed two areas in the South Sudan’s Unity state.

Kiir said, after the bombing, the Sudanese army also attacked South Sudanese forces and the militia, but were able to repel them. South Sudan insisted it will not be dragged into a senseless war with its northern neighbor.

Obeid said the allegations against Sudan sharply contradict Kiir’s admission.

“The armed forces of the South Sudan government came close to the petroleum area, about four kilometers inside the region, which belongs to the north,” said Obeid. “That is why our government chased them far away from the area. Our forces tried to negotiate with them and would not allow them to lift the flag of South Sudan government in that area. They refused to do so, and then our government tried to drive them away.”

Obeid insists the army was protecting the country’s sovereignty, as well as maintain stability and peace within Sudan’s border.

The violence comes a day after both sides accused the other of crossing the tense, poorly marked border separating the two countries. Both sides claimed they were acting in self-defense and declared victory following the fighting.

After Monday’s clashes, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir suspended a scheduled April 3rd summit with Kiir that were to be aimed at discussing disputes over the border and oil revenues.

Obeid said the SPLA attacks undermine the scheduled talks between leaders.

“They attacked our area and it is not going to be accepted. This caused the suspension the summit between the two presidents expected to be held to resolve all the outstanding points,” said Obeid. “[The attack] undermines all the procedures of achieving the resolution of the different points that are still being built between the two parties, which are the outstanding points of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement [CPA].”

Obeid said tensions between the two neighboring countries do not create a positive atmosphere for scheduled negotiations between the leaders. And, he warned South Sudan to stop attacking Sudanese territory.

“They will lose by war what they have gained by peace.”

The United States has strongly condemned renewed military violence between Sudan and South Sudan and called on both sides to end the air strikes and attacks on the ground.

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Weapons link South Sudan's White Army to prominent rebel groups

Support for South Sudan's White Army is complex. Some say backing comes from a diaspora of armed youth, local politicians eager to stoke violence, and militias, writes a guest blogger.

By Annette LaRocco
Guest blogger
March 27, 2012

Cyclical violence has been common in South Sudan for decades and the most recent flare-up of heavy fighting in Jonglei state has been going on for months. The continued tension, attacks, and fear of reprisals have displaced an estimated 140,000 people as of early February 2012.

The pervasive problem of insecurity, retaliatory violence, and lack of state capacity in service delivery and civilian protection presents a huge challenge to the government of South Sudan.

The layers of support and influence surrounding the Lou-Nuer White Army, a group central to fighting in Jonglei state, have been complex and rather opaque. There have been questions about diaspora support of the armed youth, speculations about the incentives of powerful local politicians in stoking violence, and support for the youth on the part of established militia groups.

A new Small Arms Survey report released last week cites evidence of external support of the White Army. After conducting research in Akobo, Likuongole, and the area surrounding Pibor town, Small Arms Survey found evidence of linking the White Army to weapons and ammunition identical to those used by both the Sudan's People Liberation Army (SPLA) and prominent rebel groups in South Sudan.

The report identifies several rounds of ammunition that were identical to cartridges seized from George Athor's forces in March 2011, suggesting that Athor’s militia was a potential source of arms and ammunition for the White Army.

Similarly, in Akobo, Small Arms Survey researchers witnessed Nuer youths with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades identical to models seized from Peter Gadet and George Athor in early 2011. There has long been circumstantial evidence linking Athor to the provision of weapons to Lou- and Jikany-Nuer youth in Jonglei state.

There is also evidence that supports “allegations that Nuer members of the SPLA supported the White Army’s attack on Pibor.” Several cartridges retrieved from the area surrounding Pibor town point to some level of SPLA support for the White Army. But it is impossible, even with this newfound evidence, to ascertain the scale of support from both Athor and the SPLA to the White Army.

This report was released amid heightened tensions surrounding the South Sudan government-led disarmament campaign in Jonglei state. Regardless of where these weapons are coming from the South Sudanese government must critically reevaluate its disarmament strategy. Jonglei state, as most other regions of South Sudan, is flush with weapons. Compounding this problem, the state lacks the capacity to protect civilians from inter-communal violence, making armed civilians very reluctant to give up their weapons.

Disarmament is only one element of a plan to end violence in Jonglei state. Importantly, disarmament should be sequenced appropriately within a comprehensive approach that includes political processes, peace-building, and reconciliation. Disarmament alone cannot hope to end inter-communal violence; in fact, stand-alone disarmament is likely to further inflame the situation.

Enough has highlighted the dangers of a stand-alone disarmament campaign that attempts to confiscate weaponry before communities have undergone reconciliation and peace-building processes. Moreover, the recently announced disarmament strategy is problematic because it fails to appropriately address high-level political concerns alongside grassroots efforts for reconciliation.

UN 'deeply alarmed' by Sudan border violence

28 March 2012 | 11:47

Border tensions have mounted since South Sudan split from Sudan in July after an overwhelming vote for secession following a 20-year civil war that left some two million people dead.

The United Nations Security Council demanded that Sudan and South Sudan end violence along their border after a flare-up threatened to plunge the region back into war.

The United Nations Security Council demanded that Sudan and South Sudan end violence along their border after a flare-up threatened to plunge the region back into war.

Sudanese warplanes on Tuesday carried out air raids on South Sudan, officials in that country said, threatening a rapprochement between the neighbors.

In a statement, the 15 Council members said they "demand that all parties cease military operations in the border areas and put an end to the cycle of violence."

The statement, read by Britain's UN envoy Mark Lyall Grant, also called on the two countries "to exercise maximum restraint and sustain purposeful dialogue," and to "take no action that would undermine the security and stability of the other, including through any direct or indirect form of support to armed groups in the other's territory."

The bombing was Khartoum's response to an attack launched by the South with heavy weapons on an oil field "inside Sudanese territory," said Sudanese foreign ministry spokesman Al-Obeid Meruh.

Sudan suspended an April 3 summit between President Omar al-Bashir and his southern counterpart Salva Kiir in Juba following Monday border clashes. Southern officials however said the invitation still stood.

Council members said they were "deeply alarmed" by the border violence, "which threatens to precipitate a resumption of conflict between two countries and worsen the humanitarian situation."

They also reiterated the "grave urgency to deliver humanitarian aid ... in order to avert a worsening of the serious crisis in South Kordofan and Blue Nile."

The UN's refugee agency warned that the bombings put the lives of more than 16,000 Sudanese refugees at risk.

Sudan's UN ambassador, Daff-Alla Elhag Ali Osman, told reporters that there never was an aerial bombardment, and that the humanitarian situation in both the Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan was "very normal."

"There is not any kind of crisis," the ambassador said.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon earlier called on both countries to end the clashes and respect the agreements on border security they had already reached.

Border tensions have mounted since South Sudan split from Sudan in July after an overwhelming vote for secession following a 20-year civil war that left some two million people dead.

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