Sudan vows to end hostilities, South alleges bombing
Sudan pledged on Thursday to cease hostilities with South Sudan in accordance with a U.N. Security Council resolution, hours after the South alleged fresh Sudanese bombing of its border region.
While welcoming the United Nations resolution which on Wednesday gave Sudan and the South 48 hours to stop fighting, including air raids, Khartoum’s foreign ministry warned it retains the right to defend itself against “aggression” from the South.
“The minister of foreign affairs (Ali Karti) announces that the government of Sudan welcomes the U.N. Security Council resolution which was issued on Wednesday,” said a statement from the ministry’s spokesman.
“The minister further announces that the government of Sudan will fully commit to what has been issued in the resolution about stopping hostilities with South Sudan according to the time limits issued.”
Under the U.N. resolution, Sudan and South Sudan have until Friday evening to end hostilities or face possible sanctions.
Khartoum’s pledge came hours after South Sudan’s army alleged Sudanese warplanes and long-range artillery bombarded Southern border regions on Thursday.
In its statement, Sudan’s foreign ministry repeated charges that South Sudanese troops on Monday occupied a disputed area on the border of Sudan’s Darfur region and South Sudan’s Western Bahr el-Ghazal state.
This came a day after the South took over another disputed point on the Darfur border, the ministry said, citing further examples of “continuous aggression and attack from South Sudan’s army on Sudanese soil until today”.
“The government of Sudan hopes the other party will commit to stop the hostilities completely and withdraw its troops from the disputed areas so as not to put SAF (Sudanese Armed Forces) in a situation where it has to defend itself,” the ministry added.
Border clashes between the two nations began in late March, culminating in the South’s 10-day occupation of Sudan’s main oil field in Heglig. The move coincided with air strikes against the South and raised fears of all-out war.
The South said it pulled out of Heglig in response to international calls, but Sudan said its military forced out the occupiers.
Allegations of clashes have continued even after the Heglig occupation ended.
“Their aircraft dropped bombs, and artillery was fired targeting an SPLA (Southern army) base... this is an indication of preparation for a ground attack,” Southern army spokesman Philip Aguer said.
The attack could not be independently confirmed, and Khartoum’s military has repeatedly denied a wave of air strikes that has hit the South’s oil-rich Unity border state in recent weeks.
Aguer said six bombs were dropped by MiG fighter jets on Southern frontline position at Panakuach, while warplanes and long-range artillery bombarded an army base at Lalop, some 25 kilometers (15 miles) back.
Sudan’s army spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.
Each side denies backing rebels on the other’s territory in a proxy war after failing to settle outstanding issues over contested territory, oil revenues and borders.
The Security Council resolution called on the neighbors to “immediately cease all hostilities” and withdraw troops to their own territory. The two must give a written commitment to halt fighting within 48 hours to the African Union and the Security Council.
Among other measures, it orders them to stop supporting rebel groups against each other and says they must restart African Union-mediated peace talks within two weeks.
The resolution threatens “additional measures” under Article 41 of the U.N. Charter − which allows for non-military sanctions − if either side fails.
While still one country, north and south Sudan fought a two-decade civil war up to 2005 in which more than two million people died.
South Sudan became independent last July following an overwhelming vote for secession.