Sudan denies troops crossed into South Sudan | Africa | DW | 10.06.2013
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Sudan denies troops crossed into South Sudan

Sudan has downplayed allegations by South Sudan that its troops crossed into the buffer zone between the two countries, and denies it is now backpedaling on a peace agreement meant to ease the flow of oil between them.

The military incursion was alleged by South Sudan, after Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir announced at the weekend tthat he would no longer allow the South's oil to transit through his country to ports in Sudan.

President Al-Bashir accused South Sudan of providing continued support for the Sudan Revolutionary Front, a rebel group that has been fighting Khartoum on several fronts, including in the Sudanese states of North and South Kordofan.

In an interview with DW, Sudan's Minister of Culture and Information, Dr. Ahmed Belal Osman, said that South Sudan's accusation of an incursion was simply a riposte to evidence that it has been supporting the rebels in both South and North Kordofan.

"We are only fighting the rebels inside our territory of South Kordofan. This is just an accusation,” said Belal. He added: “We have documented evidence of names and officers who bring these ammunitions to the rebels.”

Sudanese President Omar el Bashir and President Salva Kiir of South Sudan Photo:dpa

Leaders of the two Sudans have signed various oil agreements that have not materialized

Early on Monday, South Sudan's Minister for Information, Barnaba Mariel Benjamin, alleged that the North's soldiers had moved into an area from which South Sudanese troops withdrew in recent months in order to create a buffer zone between the nations.

"There are Sudan armed forces, troops, down inside South Sudan, 10 kilometers [6.2 miles] into our territory," said the minister. “Khartoum does not respect any agreements."

The South Sudanese minister also accused Sudan of backpedaling on its promises, and violating agreements with South Sudan.

Threats to suspend more pacts

In a rare interview on Sunday, Sudan's spy chief, Mohammed Atta al-Moula, warned that his country will suspend nine agreements reached earlier this year with South Sudan if the South continues to support the rebels fighting to topple the Khartoum government.

He went on to say that other agreements on security and economic pacts would also be shelved if the country did not stop supporting the rebel groups in Sudan.

Al-Moula said shutting down the oil pipelines could take up to two months, citing technical reasons. However, the delay suggests that Khartoum is willing to give South Sudan time to resolve the dispute.

In the meantime, South Sudan says it continues to pump oil to Sudan, despite the threat from its neighbor. South Sudan has repeatedly denied supporting rebel forces.

Pressure from the African Union

Sudan's President Omar Hassan El-Bashir addresses delegates at an African Union summit Photo: dpa

The AU has urged both countries to cooperate and resume oil exports

Under pressure from the African Union, Juba and Khartoum reached a deal in March to resume oil exports for the first time in more than a year. The South shut down all production in early 2012 over a dispute with the north on transit fees.

When South Sudan split from Sudan to become an independent state in 2011, it took about two-thirds of the country's oil reserves, but Juba is reliant on the North's pipelines. They are the only way for it to bring its crude to market.

Relations between Sudan and South Sudan have always been fragile, and despite the South gaining its independence, tensions over oil and land disputes have continued.

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