November 6, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese president Omer Al-Bashir on Sunday warned that his country was running out of patience in the face of “continued provocations” by South Sudan, saying that Khartoum is ready to return to war.
- Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir speaks during a signing ceremony to issue 50 gold licenses in Khartoum October 30, 2011 (REUTERS PICTURES)
Recrimination has recently returned to dominate the relations between Sudan and South Sudan after a short hiatus of superficial rapprochement that saw the southern president Salva Kiir visiting Khartoum last month and the two sides pledging to resume stalled talks over post-secession issues.
The Sudanese government on Saturday lodged a complaint with the UN Security Council accusing the south of supporting rebel groups in the country’s border states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan.
According to Khartoum’s complaint, Juba has provided military support to its erstwhile allies in the two states and allowed rebel groups from Sudan’s western region of Darfur to pass through South Sudan’s territories.
This was the second complaint Sudan filed against its former war foes this year. Juba repeatedly denied the charges and recently reiterated accusations that Khartoum is supporting southern rebels who recently intensified activities in the south’s border state of unity.
Addressing a rally on Sunday in Al-Damazin town, the state capital of the Blue Nile State, president Al-Bashir declared that Khartoum was ready to go to war with the south should the latter fire the first shot.
The Sudanese president also claimed that his country was in possession of evidences indicating that the south was preparing to launch a war against the Sudanese Army (SAF), threatening that his country would respond in kind.
He further said that Khartoum had observed “too much patience and self-restraint” in the face of “continued provocations” by the southern army in Abyei and elsewhere.
Al-Bashir said that Khartoum was still keen on peace but if the south wanted war so be it.
“We tell our brothers in the south that if they want peace, we want peace. If they want war, our army is there,” Al-Bashir told the crowd, threatening to repeat what he termed as the lessons of Abyei, Kadugli and Al-Damazin.
“Our message to our brothers in the south is this: you won the south not because you were victorious but because of an agreement and a pledge we upheld, so you had better stay in your place,” he said.
Bashir declares “liberation” of Kurmuk
Prior to his speech in Al-Damazin, Al-Bashir arrived in the Blue Nile’s border town of Al-Kurmuk amid a tightly-knit security presence and in the company of the minister of defense Abdel Rahim Hussein and director-general of Sudan’s intelligence services Mohamed Atta.
Al-Kurmuk, which lies on the border with Ethiopia, was the main bastion of the rebels Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) led by Malik Aggar until SAF seized the town four days ago.
Al-Bashir performed the Eid Al-Adha prayer in Al-Kurmuk among dozens of soldiers of SAF’s 14th infantry division and later addressed army troops, ordering them to capture the SPLM-N’s chairman and former governor of Blue Nile, Malik Aggar.
Aggar was the SPLM-N’s elected governor of Blue Nile State until he was sacked by Al-Bashir following the eruption of the conflict in Blue Nile more than two months ago.
The Sudanese president declared the “liberation” of Al-Kurmuk and accused SPLM-N’s leaders of “treason.”
He further reaffirmed his rejection to any mediation by “Khawajat” (meaning Westerners in colloquial Arabic) and vowed that his army would continue to hunt down the rebels.
Al-Bashir finally declared that Al-Kurmuk was now “liberated” and ordered SAF to deploy in border areas and secure them, saying that Al-Kurmuk would not be the end.