South Sudan sets conditions for troop pullout in disputed oilfield
Juba, South Sudan (AHN) – South Sudan refused to withdraw its troops from the disputed border area of Heglig unless Sudan stops using it as a staging point for attacks and withdraws its forces from Abyei state.
South Sudan Information Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin announced the condition Thursday in response to a call by the United Nations Security Council for the two countries to cease fighting and withdraw their respective troops six miles from the their shared border..
Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman, Sudan’s ambassador to the U.N., said if South Sudan fails to comply with the Council’s call, its army will attack South Sudan.
President Salva Kiir said Thursday Heglig is part of South Sudan’s Unity state and the troops who drove away Sudanese forces and occupied its oil fields on Tuesday will stay there.
Sudan, which is claiming the same oil-rich area as under its Southern Kordofan region, withdrew its troops from the oil fields in the face of a strong offensive by South Sudanese forces.
Kiir also warned that South Sudan’s army will retake Abyei, another disputed region, from Sudanese occupiers if the United Nations fails to convince Sudan to withdraw there and stop its aerial attacks. Sudan denied it conducted aerial bombings on South Sudanese positions.
Earlier, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged Kiir to withdraw the troops in Heglig and appealed to the two countries’ leaders to settle the border dispute peacefully.
Sudanese warplanes on Wednesday dropped bombs on Unity state, killing one soldier and wounding two others, South Sudan claimed.
Heglig has been the site of clashes for nearly two weeks after the collapse of African Union-mediated talks. Oilfields in the region account for half of Sudan’s oil production.
Before the division of Sudan, the civil war failed to reach a deal to share oil resources and delineate the exact border of Heglig.