“Conflict Is Not Inevitable” Between Sudan and South Sudan
On July 9 2011, South Sudan celebrated its independence from Sudan. Sudan, formerly the biggest country in Africa, was divided after a after the issue was placed to a popular referendum in January of the same year. However, since March 2012 the two countries have had a violent dispute over the highly contested, oil-rich area of Heglig positioned at their boarders, in South Kordofan. Heglig oil facilities account for about half of Sudan’s oil production; oil is a major source of income for the two nations. In Mid-April, the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA), the South Sudanese forces, usurped Heglig from Sudanese control and. The Southern Sudan forces justify their action saying the act was a response to bombardments carried out by the Sudanese air force in the South Sudan region of Bentiu.
On Friday, the Southern forces withdrew from Heglig, “in conformity with the U.N. Security Council presidential statement, and in response to appeals by world leaders and to create an environment for the resumption of dialogue with Sudan” said South Sudan government spokesman Barnaba Marial Benjamin. However, Sudan continued its aerial campaign in South Sudan, killing on Sunday 16 civilians and injuring 34. On Monday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the Sudanese bombing campaign calling on “the government of Sudan to cease all hostilities immediately.” The same day, State Department Spokesman Victoria Nuland in a press statement asserted “the United States strongly condemns Sudan’s military incursion into South Sudan yesterday and calls for the immediate cessation of hostilities and the withdrawal of all Sudanese armed militia from South Sudan.”
South Sudan President Salva Kiir, curently in China , stated , ”our neighbor in Khartoum has declared war.” China an important economic partner for both Sudan and South Sudan, announced its intent to send its special envoy for Africa to Sudan and South Sudan to negotiate peace . Meanwhile. the European Union is considering economic sanctions on both Sudan and SouthSudan if they do not agreed on a cease fire.
Today, African Union (AU) official, Ramtane Lamamra, said that the AU would take “appropriate measures” if Sudan and South Sudan would not engage in peace talks within 48 hours. The AU proposed a road map to peace consisting of mutual withdrawals within two weeks.
On April 21, President Barack Obama sent a message to the people of Sudan and South Sudan, through a video (see above), calling for an end violent escalation, as “conflict is not inevitable.”