South Sudan said Thursday Sudan had deceived the United Nations about withdrawing troops from the disputed Abyei region.
The region straddles two states' poorly defined borders.
“They have not withdrawn. They have just redeployed from Abyei town to the rest of Abyei area,” said army spokesman Philip Aguer Panyang.
Sudan said it had completed withdrawing from Abyei on Tuesday to lessen tensions as AU-led talks on the outstanding issues, including borders, oil transit fees, security and the disputed town resumed in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.
“The issue is not about Abyei town. It is about Abyei area as a whole,” Col Aguer said.
Earlier, reports indicated that the UN had confirmed that the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) pulled out.
“UN has been deceived by Sudan. Sudan is just playing with them,” Col Aguer added.
The status of Abyei has been a sticking point of bitter dispute between Khartoum and South Sudan since a 2005 peace deal ended two decades of deadly conflict and paved the way for formal independence of South Sudan last July.
A plebiscite in Abyei for the nine Dinka Ngok chiefdoms – transferred to Southern Kordofan in 1905 -- to decide either to join their ethnic brothers in the south or remain in the north, was derailed in January last year due to lack of agreement over who was an eligible voter.
Water and pastures
In May, SAF rolled tanks, staged air bombardment and committed ground forces into the region, overrunning southern police posts, and eventually seized the area.
About 110,000 civilians were displaced, according to UN estimates.
Since the seizure, SAF has clung on to Abyei despite the UN Security Council’s call for immediate withdrawal.
The Information and Broadcasting minister, Dr Barnaba Marial Benjamin, said two SAF platoons, each composed of 35 soldiers, were still at the centre of Abyei town.
“They have not gone anywhere. They are in Abyei. Why should they claim to have pulled out,” Dr Marial said.
Some of the SAF troops, Marial added, were dressed in police uniforms and redeployed to oil areas.
South Sudan withdrew her police units from the contested region weeks ago in response to the Security Council’s resolution to do so and resume talks unconditionally.
However, the SAF spokesman Alsawarmi Khalid Saad insisted his troops completed withdrawal by late Tuesday, after getting assurances from the AU lead mediator and former South African President Thabo Mbeki.
“The assurance is that any arrangement regarding the status of Abyei should include all citizens,” Mr Al Sawarmi said, referring to the inclusion of Misseriya, an Arab nomadic community that seasonally migrates to Abyei in search of water and pastures.