- The Washington Times - Monday, May 7, 2012

A top South Sudanese official on Monday said Sudan is violating a U.N. ultimatum to halt the fighting that has brought the two African neighbors to the brink of an all-out war.

Pagan Amum, South Sudan’s chief negotiator in talks to settle disputes with Sudan, said that while his country has ceased hostilities, Sudanese forces “are continuing to bomb us.”

“It is clear that [Sudanese] President [Omar] Bashir is not committed to peace,” Mr. Amum told The Washington Times. “He is a warmonger and a racist, and someone who is calling for genocide.”

Lt. Gen. Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sudan’s western state of Darfur, has compared southerners to insects.

“[Gen. Bashir] is somebody who is bent to continue committing crimes against humanity,” said Mr. Amum.

The U.N. Security Council on Wednesday unanimously adopted a resolution that calls on Sudan and South Sudan to cease all hostilities, withdraw forces and resume talks. A failure to do so would result in sanctions.

Sudan and South Sudan were instructed to inform the African Union and the Security Council of their commitments to end hostilities within 48 hours from the adoption of the resolution.

“The international community must now bring pressure to bear on the government of Sudan to stop bombing South Sudan,” said Mr. Amum.

Sudan also must be forced to negotiate a political solution to its conflict with southern rebels in the border states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, and to stop supporting militia fighting in South Sudan, he said.

The international community had criticized South Sudan for provoking the latest round of fighting when it sent its forces into Heglig, an oil-rich border region claimed by Sudan. South Sudanese officials said Sudanese forces were using Heglig as a base from which to attack the south.

“It is Sudan that has been talking the language of war; we have been in self-defense all along,” said Mr. Amum.

The Security Council also set a two-week deadline for Sudan and South Sudan to resume talks on disputes related to oil payments, citizenship, border demarcation and the status of Abyei, an oil-rich region claimed by both governments.

Mr. Amum said South Sudan is ready to resume talks immediately and unconditionally, and is awaiting guidance from the African Union.

South Sudan has proposed international arbitration as a solution to the border dispute. It also has offered to pay 69 cents a barrel for oil shipped through Sudan. The government in Khartoum is demanding $32 per barrel.

South Sudan stopped pumping oil through pipelines in Sudan in January after a dispute over the transit fee. Oil is the main source of income for both countries.

The loss of oil revenue has created a $2.4 billion gap in Sudan’s public finances, the country’s finance minister said Monday in Khartoum.

Sudan may never see the south’s oil.

Mr. Amum said there is “a very big possibility” that South Sudan will not resume pumping oil through Sudan.

South Sudan is exploring the possibility of constructing pipelines through Kenya and Ethiopia.

“South Sudan is now working to develop alternative pipelines, and we may actually reach a decision point that will make us not export our oil through Sudan anymore,” said Mr. Amum. “It is likely that we may dedicate all our volumes to the new pipeline.”

However, it is also likely to take three years before the new pipeline is built.

In the meantime, South Sudan’s government, which has been forced to adopt austerity measures because of the loss of its oil revenue, intends to “do a forward sale of our oil against future deliveries,” said Mr. Amum.

“This is a priority,” he added.

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