South Sudan calls for talks with Khartoum despite fresh attacksBy MACHEL AMOS in Juba | Tuesday, April 24 2012 at 20:01
Despite the escalating aerial bombardment deep into her territories, South Sudan Tuesday called for the resumption of talks with rival Sudan to resolve the outstanding issues that include the demarcation of the fragile borders, the status of Abyei and general security.
"We are committed to peace and we have never left the peace table and these issues can not be resolved militarily,” Information minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin told reporters, urging the international community to prevail on Sudan to avoid sounding the drums of war.
"We call for immediate demarcation of agreed borders,” Dr Marial said.
The call comes in the wake of continued aerial bombing by the Sudan Armed Forces in the oil-rich Unity state.
Ruled out talks
It also comes shortly after Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir ruled out the resumption of talks, saying South Sudan understands better "the language of guns and bullets".
South Sudan army spokesman Col Philip Aguer said a series of bombings that started on Monday, leading to death of at least two and several other injured, extended into the night till this morning.
"At 11 and at 1 o’clock, they bombed us,” Col Aguer said.
"Two antonovs came across the borders to a distance of 40 km. They bombed villages called Panakuach and Teshwin,” Col Aguer said.
The SAF denies bombing civilian bases, saying the bombs landed 20 km away from the border – a claim the southern army has refuted.
Inside the south
Rubkona County, which was the scene of fire when the SAF bombed the area on Monday, is 60 km away from the borders inside South Sudan.
The UN has condemned the continued bombing and called for immediate cessation of hostilities.
"The secretary General reiterates that there can be no military solution to the disputes between Sudan and South Sudan,” reads a statement attributed to the UN Secretary Genera Ban Ki Moon.
"This indiscriminate bombings resulting in the loss of civilian lives must stop,” said Hilde Johnson, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary for South Sudan.
“I remind the parties to the conflict of their obligation to abide by the international human rights and humanitarian law, take all measures not to harm civilians, and guarantee the safety of international aid organizations and United Nations personnel and assets,” Ms Hilde said.
Sudan has skewed its diplomatic push by the escalation of hostilities despite the withdrawal of southern troops last Sunday from the disputed Heglig region to pave way for talks.
"The United States strongly condemns Sudan’s military incursion into South Sudan” and calls for “the withdrawal of all Sudanese armed militia from South Sudan,” according to a statement from the department of state on Monday.
It asked both sides to cease hostilities immediately, end support to each other’s rebels and resume talks.
However, South Sudan said its “sympathy” with the rebels in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, which fought alongside the southern troops between 1983 and 005 “is being taken as support.”
“We don’t deny that we are sympathetic to them but we are not supporting them,” Dr Marial said.
The border row threatens resumption of a full scale war between the former foes.
Should Kenya spend $8.2 million to acquire an office for retired President Kibaki?speak out
Read Story: Should Kenya spend $8.2 million to acquire an office for retired President Kibaki?
- The girl who met Gaddafi 'in hell'
- Nigerian deportee demands pay for Kenyan officials' release
- Ethiopia secures $300m Indian rail loan
- 7 Kenyans held in Lagos over deported 'Nigerian'
- Kenyan call girls go high-tech
- Clinton to visit Senegal ahead of Obama
- Nile saga: Ethiopia and Egypt now favour dialogue
- Nairobi in pictures: Past and present
- Hospital quiet on Museveni birth records mystery
Beyond the ballot