South Sudanese President Salva Kiir rejected allegations by President Umar al-Bashir that South Sudan is backing rebels opposed to the Khartoum government and accused Sudan of plotting to invade his country.
“All these accusations are actually a prelude from Khartoum to justify their pending actions against South Sudan,” Kiir told reporters today in Juba, the South Sudanese capital. “When Bashir invades South Sudan, then he will say yes he took the action to revenge what was being done to him.”
Al-Bashir’s government earlier this month submitted a complaint to the United Nations Security Council that South Sudan is backing rebels in Blue Nile state on the two nations’ border, the state-owned SUNA news agency reported on Nov. 5. “We do not have anything to do with them militarily or politically,” Kiir said today.
South Sudan’s ruling Southern People’s Liberation Movement fought a two-decade civil war with Khartoum that led to the south’s independence on July 9. The rebels fighting al-Bashir’s forces in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan states were previously part of the SPLM. That relationship ended with South Sudan’s independence, Kiir said.
Sudan’s Foreign Ministry accused Juba of providing rebels with “anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles as well as with ammunition, landmines and mortars,” according to SUNA.
Sudan Armed Forces forced the rebels to flee their stronghold of Kurmuk, Blue Nile, on Nov. 3. Three days later, al-Bashir visited Kurmuk and the state capital, Damazin, where he addressed the government of South Sudan in a speech. He said Sudan would not hesitate to fight if South Sudan continued to back the rebels, according to SUNA.
“When he announced all these things in Kurmuk and Damazine, it was less than 48 hours until he bombed Queffa and the surrounding areas of Upper Nile,” Kiir said, referring to the Nov. 8 bombing of the South Sudanese town near the border.
At least seven people died in the Queffa attack, which also destroyed a number of houses, South Sudan military spokesman Colonel Philip Aguer said in a phone interview today from Juba.
Kiir also accused Khartoum of backing militia groups that carried out attacks in the border regions of South Sudan. While Juba won’t be drawn into a military confrontation with Khartoum by the bombings and the militia attacks, South Sudan will defend its territory against any invasion, he said.
“We will never accept anybody violating our sovereignty,” he said.
At independence, South Sudan assumed about 75 percent of the former Sudan’s oil reserves, contributing to an economic crisis in the north, including spiraling inflation that reached almost 21 percent in October, according to Sudan’s Central Statistics Bureau.
Talks between the two nations have yet to resolve the status of Abyei, a border area claimed by both sides where Ethiopian peacekeepers are stationed. The countries have also failed to reach an agreement on how much Juba will pay to pump its oil through a pipeline that runs across Sudan.