March 6, 2012 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan’s second Vice-President, Al-Haj Adam Youssef, has revealed that his country will close shared borders with South Sudan and block the flow of food commodities to the new nation over its alleged support of rebel groups.
- Sudanese Vice President, Al-Haj Adam Youssef (Centre) walks with South Kordofan’s governor Ahmad Haroun (L) (Sudan Vision)
The already tense relations between Sudan and South Sudan have recently reached its nadir over an oil dispute and mutual accusations of supporting rebel groups.
Addressing a rally at the headquarters of the paramilitary Popular Defense Forces (PDF) in Khartoum’s sister city of Omdurman on Tuesday, Youssef said that the Sudanese government had issued directives to close the borders with South Sudan and contain flow of food so “it does not reach those who are fighting us”.
“We have no good relations with them to supply them with food” Youssef said, adding that their problem is not with Southern people themselves but with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) who are governing the country.
South Sudan accused Khartoum last year of imposing a blockade of trade routes which, according to southern officials, resulted in increases of food prices.
Youssef said that the move comes against the background of the SPLM’s support for rebels fighting the Sudanese government in the border states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
The Sudanese VP said that although the government in Khartoum harbours no hostility towards South Sudanese people, they will not be allowed to enter Sudan without following the procedures applied to all other foreigners, as of 9 April.
Sudan decided to revoke the nationality of its former southern citizens after they voted in January last year for their region’s independence, which was then declared on 9 July of the same year. Khartoum took it a step further and set 8 April this year as a deadline for all Southerners to leave Sudan or regularise their stay as foreigners.
More than 350,000 Southerners left Sudan and returned home after independence but United Nations agencies estimate that there are 700,000 still living there.
Youssef called on the remaining Southerners in the north to return home or else, he warned, Khartoum would not hesitate to ’swoop them away’. However, he added that they will only “expel the southerners whose presence is unwelcome”.
He also accused South Sudan of attempting to sabotage the Sudanese economy through suspension of oil production. Youssef added that Juba was expecting the Sudanese economy to crumble due to the suspension of oil production.
South Sudan suspended its oil production in response to Khartoum’s confiscation of the commodity as it passed through northern pipelines. Khartoum justified the move by saying that Juba has not paid any transit fees since the South seceded.
According to Youssef, some Southern officials are now beginning to realise that the decision to halt oil production was wrong.
Separately, Youssef announced that the government is aware of plans by South Kordofan’s rebels, whom he described as “drunks”, to advance on Khartoum through three fronts. He also launched an attack on Sudanese opposition forces, saying they lack the weight to mobilise the street against the government.