April 21, 2012 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir on Friday announced that his country will not allow its southern neighbor to export any of its oil through the pipelines in the wake of the worst fighting between the two countries since they broke up into two last year.
Bashir was addressing thousands of his supporters in Khartoum who were celebrating today's recapture of the Heglig region in South Kordofan which was taken over by South Sudan army early last week.
"We don't want fees from the oil of South Sudan and we will not open the pipeline," Bashir said. "There is no oil from South Sudan that will pass through our pure land, so that not one dollar goes to these criminals," he added.
The landlocked south has failed to agree with Sudan on how much fees it should pay for exporting its oil through the north's infrastructure. Khartoum, frustrated by lack of an agreement, started to confiscate part of the oil as payment in kind. Juba retaliated by suspending oil production altogether and as of earlier this year the crude stopped flowing through the pipelines putting the two countries in a tight spot economically.
The two countries have been negotiating over several contentious issues besides oil including borders, Abyei, external debts, citizenship, international agreements and water. The African Union (AU) mediation team headed by former South African president Thabo Mbeki has been unable to achieve a breakthrough in any of the outstanding items.
A presidential summit that was supposed to be held earlier this month between Bashir and his southern counterpart Salva Kiir in Juba was called off following the first clash between the armies of the two countries in Heglig last month. Last week's occupation of Heglig further complicated any prospects of a resolution to post-independence issues and increased prospects of a return to war between Khartoum and Juba.
Earlier today the Sudanese army announced that it has finally pushed out southern troops out of Heglig after more than a week of anxious waiting by citizens. The country's defense minister Abdel-Rahim Mohamed Hussein said in a televised statement that they inflicted heavy losses on the southern army which amounted to 60% of personnel of their forces and equipments.
Hussein added that they are still pursuing remnants of the "enemies". He revealed that the reclaiming of Heglig was a result of three major battles that erupted since Thursday. But South Sudan countered Khartoum's claim insisting that their troops are still Heglig while ordering them to withdraw.
"The Republic of South Sudan announces that SPLA troops have been ordered to withdraw from Panthou (Heglig)," said South Sudan's information and media minister, Barnaba Marial Benjamin. "An orderly withdrawal will commence immediately, and shall be completed within three days," he added.
In a televised address to the nation on Friday evening, Kiir said Khartoum was fooling itself by celebrating the imaginary recapture of Heglig, adding that the SPLA will only voluntarily withdraw from the area over the next three days according to the plan laid out by Juba earlier in the day. Bashir stressed that the war was started by Juba but will stop only if Khartoum wishes to and stressed that it will continue until Blue Nile and South Kordofan are cleansed from "rebels, traitors and agents". He again described the ruling South Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) as "insects".
"We tell the president of insects Salva Kiir, your forces left through force and did not withdraw from Heglig and our men entered it by force and your aggression is continuing in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan and rebels in the two areas [Blue Nile and South Kordofan] are from your forces," the Sudanese president said.
The pressing question is how much damage occured in Heglig oil facilities which produces half of Sudan's crude production. The Sudanese foreign ministry warned that it will seek reparations and compensation from Juba for any harm done in the course of the battles there. In Khartoum thousands of jubilant citizens took the street to celebrate the news while congratulations poured from all Sudanese living abroad. (ST)
Copyright 2012 Sudan Tribune - Sudan TribuneSyndigate.info, Al bawaba.com. All Rights Reserved.
(Originally published April 21, 2012, in Sudan Tribune.)