By Bonifacio Taban Kuich
May 8, 2012 (BENTIU) - South Sudan’s army (SPLA) has accused the Sudanese government of bombing oil-rich Unity State on Friday and Saturday in violation of a UN Security Council on May 2 calling for a cessation of hostilities.
- Brigadier General Gabriel Puok Wunoah at Panakuach, Unity State, South Sudan. May 7, 2012 (ST)
The UN’s most powerful decision-making body voted last week to endorse the African Union Peace and Security Council’s (PSC) proposal document for the two Sudans to resolve their outstanding issues through peaceful negotiations.
If either side failed to cease hostilities with two days, return to negotiations with two weeks and sign a deal on key issues with three months the UNSC resolution threatened non-military sanctions under Article 41 of the UN Charter, as well as possible "additional measures".
Both sides were also ordered to withdraw their forces from disputed border regions, including Abyei, within a week in order to prepare for the establishment of a demilitarised border zone.
However, on Saturday SPLA Brigadier General Gabriel Puok Wunoah accused the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) of failing to respect the ceasefire, alleging that on May 4 and 5 around eight bombs were dropped on their militarily base in South Sudan by Sudanese Antenov’s in Panakuach, Unity State.
- Rubkotna Commissioner William Gatjang assesing the crator of what South Sudan’s says was an Antenov bomb dropped by the Sudan Armed Forces. May 7, 2012 (ST)
This is not the first time since the resolution that Juba and Khartoum have accused each other of breaching the resolution. On May 3 the spokesperson for South Sudan’s army, Philip Aguer, said Sudanese warplanes dropped six bombs on Panakuach as well as carrying out another attack involving aerial bombardment and long-range artillery targeting another army base about 25 km away.
Sudan has said it is committed to implementing the resolution but says that Juba’s continued backing of the SPLA-North, a rebel group operating in South Kordofan and Blue Nile violates the resolution, which called for both sides to: "Cease the harbouring of, or support to, rebel groups against the other State".
South Sudan denies assisting the SPLA-North, which was, before South Sudan seceded from Sudan, part of the former rebel movement.
The spokesman of Sudan’s foreign ministry, Al-Obayd Adam Marawih, has also said that South Sudan’s occupation of the disputed areas of Kafia Kingi and Kafia Dabi are further violations of the UNSC resolution.
Resolution 2046 (2012) also calls for both sides to pull out of the disputed Abyei area within two weeks. South Sudan says it has almost completed the withdrawal of it’s forces.
Wunoah, said Saturday that - contrary to SAF’s claims - the SPLA withdrew from the disputed area of Heglig due to pressure from the international community not due to a military assault.
He urged the SPLM government in Juba to appeal for international pressure on Khartoum to adhere to the UNSC resolution and stop it’s bombing of South Sudan. The SPLA Brigadier General said that if the Sudanese government continued its aggression it should not be surprised if the SPLA retook control of Heglig.
The SPLA held Heglig town and the surrounding oil fields from April 10-20 in response to, what it says were, ground and air attacks being launched from the area.
William Gatjang Gieng commissioner of Rubkotna County who assessed the recent bombardments in Lalop Payam [district] said that a woman had been hit in the leg by fragments of one of the bombs.
Nyachieng Nguot Teny a 20-year-old woman with a seven-month-old-child Dak Tab, said that the SAF’s bombings were clearly targeting the civilian population. She appealed for the UN and African Union to bring the two parties back to the negotiating table in Addis Ababa.
- Nyachieng Nguot Teny in Bentiu Hospital, Unity State. May 8, 2012 (ST)
Gieng said that Khartoum government is deliberately terrorising the citizens of South Sudan and accused the international community and the African Union of keeping silent over the recent attack on civilians in Rubkotna County.
“Lalop is the merely civilian villages, I can’t understand why the Sudanese government [are] bombing them," he said.
He said that the world should know that while they are talking about negotiations Khartoum needs to be pressurised into stopping its bombing. Khartoum denies bombing South Sudanese territory.
The same world leaders that called for South Sudan to withdraw from Heglig should also put the same pressure on Sudan’s president Omar Al-Bashir to stop bombing South Sudan, the commissioner said.