South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayadrit brushed aside calls to withdraw his army from the oil-rich region of Heglig after being asked to do so in order to avoid a return of war with the north.
Kiir was reacting to international calls from the African Union (AU), United Nations (UN) and United States and . Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General also called him on Wednesday requesting the same.
In a remarkable shift from his “no return to war” previous stances, Kiir told the members of South Sudan parliament he would not order a withdrawal.
Kiir said that this message was delivered to all world leaders who contacted him including UN chief whom he said gave him “an order”.
“I told him you do not need to order me because I am not under your command. I am a head of state accountable to my people and do not have to be ordered by someone I do not fall under his direct command. I will not withdraw the troops,” he said
Kiir told Ban that the international community does not equally give same concern when Khartoum assaults them and gave an example when the Sudanese army moved into Abyei it in May 2010.The South Sudan leader said he told Mr. Ban that if Khartoum does not pull out its army from Abyei he would send his troops to fight them.
He went on to recount events that led to Heglig’s occupation.
“I want to tell you clearly what happened at the border. I think you all know that a summit was supposed to be held here in Juba on 3 April, 2012 but this did not take place because there were voices in Khartoum who felt the south Sudan was not secure. I told them no. South Sudan was more secure than any other country in the world for president Bashir”, Kiir said
He explained that he rejected international pressure calling upon him at the time to arrest Bashir if he comes to South Sudan because he could not see any logic to do so.
“I asked them why and they said because he is wanted by the international criminal court for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Darfur for killing of 300,000 people. I told them why would I arrest Bashir for 300,000 people killed in Darfur while the international community did not bother to indict him for crimes he committed in the South where he killed over 2 million people”, Kiir told the house.
He said the conflict in Heglig began when Sudan Armed forces collaboratively with militia forces launched an attack on April 1st with the intention to extend tie-in pipe line to Unity state but that they were repulsed by the SPLA forces and were followed into Heglig.
“They went back to regroup and launched another attack on April 10th. They were again repulsed and followed into Heglig and the SPLA took control of the town this time. The SPLA are now in a complete control of the Heglig and beyond. They will not pull out. They will remain there so that this issue is resolve once and for all even though we did not want war as a resolve”, Kiir told the house amid applause chanting “SPLA, SPLA, SPLA”.
He said he did not sleep last night because he was receiving a lot of international calls asking him to consider withdrawing troops from the contested area but rejected them all.