South Sudan’s President Criticizes World’s Stance on Heglig Dispute

Salva Kirr
Salva Kirr speaking at a rally in Juba

South Sudan president Salva Kiir Mayardit on Friday strongly criticised international community including the United Nations and African Union for showing “deliberate” failure to hold the government of the neighboring Sudan responsible for the conflict.

“The government of Sudan has never stopped bombing our innocent civil population even after signing Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). They have continued to do so and indeed intensified air attacks in August 2011 after South Sudan officially became an independent state but the international community has never come out to condemn them,” Kiir said on Friday.

The leader of the country’s governing Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) made the remarks at a reception rally attended by thousands of people held at freedom square in Juba shortly after his return from a visit to china.

“The Security Council of the United Nations and the international community including the African union and the biased Arab league has never come out to condemn and hold Sudanese government in Khartoum, particularly President Bashir and his groups responsible for atrocities they have committed against the people of South Sudan and the three areas,” he said.

“They only come out to condemn us when we react to aggression by the Sudanese government within our territories,” president Kiir told a crowd with placards calling for immediate border demarcation.

The occupation of South Sudanese army of Heglig during ten days triggered international and regional condemnations against Juba which is also accused of backing Sudanese rebels from Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan.

Fighters of the Sudan Revolutionary Front were accused of launching attacks from the Unity state and Upper Nile against the positions of the Sudanese army in South Kordofan. The rebel groups members of this alliance said aiming to topple the Sudanese regime.

This week, the African Union gave the Sudanese and South Sudanese parties three months to reach an agreement over the pending issues they are negotiating since more than a year without tangible progress.

The AU Peace and Security Council warned that in case they fail to conclude a deal on the outstanding issues, it will endorse as “final and binding” what a panel dealing with the Sudanese issues chaired by the former South African president Thabo Mbeki.

Kiir commended the country’s army for demonstrating capability to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity of what he described as new and young nation and reiterated his claim that (Panthou) or Heglig lies deeply inside his country in Unity State.

“Panthou is deep inside Unity State. It is 56 kilometers from the border”, Kiir told the reception rally, adding that Khartoum fooled the whole world into thinking that area is inside Sudan.

He went further to say that “continual resistance of attempt by the Sudanese army to take oil wells”, and the seizure of Panthou proved the capability of the SPLA as national army to defend the newly independent nation

Kiir wondered why the Security Council of the United Nations and the international community including African Union condemned and called for unconditional withdrawal of SPLA forces from Panthou while they do ignore where January 1956 borders between two countries lies.

“They do not know where our borders lie with Sudan and indeed this is what caused the conflict but they came out to condemn us and claimed that we have gone into Sudanese territory. This is a violation of our national sovereignty and the comprehensive peace agreement,” said president Kiir.

The south Sudanese president however appointed that “One day, if there is law in this world, Panthou will come back to us by law.” He further dismissed that his troops damaged the oil installation in Heglig saying there no reason to harm it “because they are ours.”

The Chinese government, during Kiir’s visit renewed its call to stop hostilities between the two countries and to resume bilateral talks on the pending issues. Beijing also called on the parties to protect its interests in the oil producing areas from the both sides.

Speaking at the same gathering, vice-president Riek Machar dismissed and described media reports about coup in Juba as signs of “political defeat” allegedly concocted by the Sudanese government deliberately intended to winning back what he equally described as “dwindled legitimacy”.

He told the crowd that reports claiming Khartoum backed militia groups operating against Juba based government had captured three places in Unity State were “pure lies” and that no single village in the state was under a militia control . He wondered about the capabilities of rebel groups to capture any town in the country if Sudanese armed forces could not do.

“If they cannot defeat us as government with all their capabilities why do they think militia groups can be any better,” asked the vice-president stressing that “no militias in the country can defeat SPLA warriors.”