South Sudan Says No Withdrawal from Disputed Town

Posted April 12th, 2012 at 5:35 pm (UTC-5)
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The United Nations Security Council has called on Sudan and South Sudan stop border clashes, which it says threaten to lead to full-scale war between the east African neighbors.

The 15-nation body issued a statement Thursday ordering Khartoum to stop its airstrikes and Juba to withdraw troops from a vital oil field.

The U.S. ambassador the the United Nations, Susan Rice, who holds the rotating Security Council presidency, read the order.

“The Security Council demands a complete, immediate, and unconditional end to all fighting; withdrawal of the SPLA [i.e., Sudan People's Liberation Army] from Heglig; end to SAF [i.e., Sudan Armed Forces] aerial bombardments; end to repeated incidents of cross-border violence between Sudan and South Sudan; and an end to support by both sides to proxies in the other country.”

Fighting along the ill-defined border between the former civil war adversaries has led to a standoff over Sudan's Heglig oil field after it was seized on Tuesday by troops from South Sudan.

Earlier Thursday, South Sudan's President Salva Kiir refused to pull back troops from the disputed border town, despite a direct appeal from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

“He gave me an order, the U.N. secretary-general, that I'm ordering you to immediately withdraw from Heglig. I said, 'I'm not under your command.' If I'm head of a state, an independent state, nobody will tell me that — do this, under duress.”

Mr. Kiir also said South Sudanese forces might enter another disputed border area, Abyei, if the United Nations does not force Sudan to withdraw from the area, which it seized last year.

On Wednesday, Sudan announced it was pulling out of talks with South Sudan because of the south's takeover of Heglig, an oil-producing town.

South Sudan says Sudanese warplanes dropped several bombs early Thursday in Khartoum's first attack near a major southern town. James Puoy Yaka, an official in Guit County, outside of Bentiu, told VOA the attack killed one person and was not near a military target.

The African Union is trying to mediate disputes between the two Sudans stemming from the south's independence last year. But the talks in Ethiopia have made little progress.

Key issues include borders, the sharing of oil revenue and the status of nationals in each other's territory.

Both countries have suggested the possibility of renewed conflict. Before their separation, north and south Sudan fought a 21-year civil war that ended with a 2005 peace agreement.

On Wednesday, the United States condemned military involvement on both sides and called on the two Sudans to withdraw all forces deployed across the border.

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon urged South Sudanese President Kiir to consider holding a presidential summit to build confidence and assure people in Sudan and South Sudan that peace and dialogue are the only options.