April 18 (Bloomberg) -- Sudanese President Umar al-Bashir vowed today to overthrow the South Sudan government, as the south pledged to defend itself and called for a return to negotiations.
“Our main target from today is to liberate South Sudan’s citizens from the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement,” al-Bashir said in a speech aired on Sudan TV. “This is our responsibility before our brothers in South Sudan,” he said.
South Sudan’s deputy information minister, Atem Yaak Atem, said the Khartoum government has been launching ground and air attacks against his country since it declared independence July 9, and accused Sudan of trying to overthrow his government by supporting militia groups.
“We don’t see any reason for full-scale war as long as there is room for negotiation,” he said today by phone from Juba, the South Sudanese capital. “We have been telling them we are ready for negotiation.”
South Sudan seceded from the north following a 2005 peace deal that ended two decades of war. It assumed control over about three-quarters of the formerly unified nation’s daily oil output of 490,000 barrels. Most of the crude is pumped by the China National Petroleum Corp., Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional Bhd. and India’s ONGC Videsh Ltd.
Sudan said today it’s calling on the UN Security Council to end South Sudan’s week-long occupation of the oil-rich Heglig region. South Sudan’s army seized the region, which both countries claim, on April 10 after a series of border clashes, prompting Sudan to withdraw from African Union-led negotiations and to mobilize its army.
“The story began in Heglig, but will end in Khartoum or Juba,” al-Bashir said. “There are two choices: Either we end up in Juba or they end up in Khartoum. The old borders cannot take us both.”
While the south would defend itself, Atem said his government has “no plan to attack or occupy anybody’s territory.”
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