South Sudan: Sudan Waging War, Thwarting Peace Talks

Posted April 1st, 2012 at 10:45 am (UTC-5)
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South Sudan has accused Sudan of waging war and thwarting African Union peace negotiations aimed at stemming rising border clashes.

The talks are taking place in Addis Ababa, where on Sunday South Sudan's chief negotiator accused Khartoum of conducting air strikes for a seventh straight day in the south.

Negotiator Pagan Amum Amum told reporters that “Up to today, they are bombing South Sudan,”

He said Sudan's defense minister also missed a scheduled security meeting, proving that Sudan has rejected the AU-mediated talks.

“Unfortunately, the response of Khartoum is war. They have launched aerial and ground attacks from Monday. The government of Sudan is the one that is waging war, the head of the JPSM on their side is not here. The meeting was supposed to take place yesterday and he has not appeared. ”

Officials with the AU mediation panel said the talks are “on hold” pending the arrival of Sudan's defense minister.

Sudan has claimed its defense minister remained Khartoum to deal with a military incursion by the south.

Amum strongly rejected that charge.

“There is no South Sudanese presence. Not a single South Sudanese soldier on Sudanese soil.”

The presidents of the two Sudan were due to meet in Juba on April 3 to discuss border and oil revenue disputes. Now it is unclear if the meeting will take place as initially planned, although members of the mediation panel expressed hope it will still take place.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir previously announced he would not attend the summit with South Sudan's President Salva Kiir because of the violence.

Negotiators say the presidents' meeting is crucial if the two sides are to resolve key issues, including the sharing of oil revenue.

Both countries rely heavily on oil revenue.

Both sides blame the other for sparking the direct military confrontation.

The United States, the African Union and the United Nations have all expressed serious concern about the fighting, and called for the parties to address their disputes through peaceful negotiations.

Since South Sudan's independence in July, the two neighbors have not been able to agree on the demarcation of their 1,800 kilometer border or how much South Sudan should pay to export oil through Sudan.

The south took over most Sudanese oil production, but is refusing to pay what it considers excessive transit fees to use northern pipelines. The landlocked south needs the pipelines to send the oil to international markets.

The dispute prompted South Sudan to shut down all oil production, a move analysts say is likely to hurt both countries.

The sides are also in disagreement about the status of southerners living in the north and regularly accuse each other of supporting the other's rebel groups.