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SPLA says Heglig is South Sudanese, vows to defend 1956 border

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April 13, 2012 (JUBA) - South Sudan’s army has asserted readiness to defend the country at “all cost” and claimed that the oil-rich Heglig area is within their country, despite it being internationally recognised as being part of Sudan.

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James Hoth Mai, SPLA Chief of General Staff

Since Tuesday the South Sudanese military SPLA has held the Heglig area in South Kordofan and abruptly turned off the oil pumps, depriving Sudan of over half of its 110,000 barrels per day of crude production.

Until fighting over Heglig began in late March South Sudan had seemed to have accepted Heglig was in South Kordofan, as per a decision by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in 2009. But in recent days South Sudan has reasserted its claim over the area and said it will not pull out unless UN troops are deployed or Khartoum gives guarantees Heglig will not be used a base to launch attacks on South Sudan.

On Thursday James Hoth Mai, the Chief of General Staff of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) said his forces "not going anywhere".

“Panthou [as South Sudan calls Heglig] is within our territory and we are in our country. We have not crossed into anybody’s territory. We are inside our country and we are there to stay."

Mai told a group of South Sudanese youth that the SPLA was ready to fight the north Sudanese army, who on Friday announced a counteroffensive in an attempt to retake the area.

"Let them come. We will meet where men meets. We will meet in the middle and not inside the children and elderly people. We will face them”, Mai declared amid applause.

He called on the youth across the nine-month-old nation to reconcile their differences and unite against what he described as an invasion by the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) on South Sudan’s oil-rich Unity State.

Juba maintains that it took Heglig in response to a SAF ground offensive and weeks of bombing inside South Sudanese territory. Khartoum denies both charges.

Sudan’s president Bashir has formed a committee to oversee a nationwide mobilisation of Sudan military and paramilitary forces and a massive recruitment drive to respond to the border conflict and the war in South Kordofan an Blue Nile which began last year.

South Sudan has announced a similar campaign in states the border Sudan.

"We will fight to die in our territory," the general said reiterating his call on the youth to be ready for voluntary mobilisation and training by the country’s army in order to respond to what he described as “daily provocations in our oilfields”.

Juba suspects that Khartoum is using militias in Unity and other areas states to destabilise the country so that Sudan can reclaim the oil fields it lost when South Sudan seceded last year taking with it 75% of oil production.

In January South Sudan shut off its 350,000 barrels per day of crude output and refused to continue transporting its oil through the north accusing Khartoum of having "stolen" around 6 million barrels of southern crude since December.

Khartoum has not acknowledged that figure but has admitted taking oil as payment in kind for what it says are unpaid fees. The border conflict has raised fears of a return to all out war between the two nations.

A 2005 peace expired in July 2011 South Sudan became independent, bringing and end to the revenue from southern crude being split 50:50 with the north. Oil was one of the many issues fought over in the two-decade war the led to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and is vital for both governments; especially South Sudan.

According to Mai, the oil-rich Heglig area was named Panthou by former Sudanese president Jafar Nimery after the discovery of oil in the area.

The general argued that there was documentary evidence identifying clearly that Panthou (Heglig) belongs to the republic of South Sudan and that can be found in the British archive which demarcated boundaries between the two regions when Sudan gained her independence in 1956.

“Since when has Panthou been part of Sudan? This area has it original name known has Panthou. It is an area deeply inside South Sudan territory under Panrieng County, in what used to be called Western Upper Nile, but late former Sudanese president Jafar Nimery named it Unity State”, he said.

He explained that president Nimery changed the name of the area from being western Upper Nile province and named it Unity after discovery of the oil in 1970s with intention to annex the whole area to the north but that did not work as it provoked the war.

The army’s spokesman, Colonel Philip Aguer, equally concurred with views held by the General Mai, and explained that Panthou is an area under Panrieng County and used to be inhibited by Dinka Ngok of Panru clan before eruption of civil war and subsequent eviction of the local people by the Sudanese army when the oil was discovered to allow Chinese oil companies exploit it.

"It has never been part of Sudan. It is a historical place within Panru area”, he said.

The senior military figures spoke after President Salva Kiir’s deviant speech to South Sudan’s parliament where he listed the international bodies and countries he had ignored in their calling the SPLA to withdraw.

After Kiir’s speech Alfred Sebit Wani an MP from Central Equatoria State said: “We have never supported return to war as it has been the position of our president but if Sudan has decided to invade our country, we shall all die with our army.”

(ST)

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  • 14 April 2012 07:14, by E. Defense Forces

    Sudan armed forces in Heglig offensive and SPLA is waiting to destroy them.

    Long live RSS

    http://www.southsudanhub.com/media/362/Sudan_armed_forces_in_Heglig_offensive/

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    • 14 April 2012 07:30, by Makuei

      The Best of a Nation:

      "Mai told a group of South Sudanese youth that the SPLA was ready to fight the north Sudanese army, who on Friday announced a counteroffensive in an attempt to retake the area.

      "Let them come. We will meet where men meets. We will meet in the middle and not inside the children and elderly people. We will face them”, Mai declared amid applause". Hoth Mai. Thank You!

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      • 14 April 2012 08:31, by Chol

        The reporter keeps saying Heglig is internationally recognize as part of Sudan. The international community doesn’t know which part is either South Sudan or Sudan.

        The Hague doesn’t know the 1967 border line therefore they should stay out of it. Khartoum should take that message seriously from General Mai that the SPLA troops are not going anywhere!

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    • 14 April 2012 07:40, by Dinkawarrior

      Thanks to the leadership of our government, especially to President Kiir and VP Dr. Machar! Everywhere around the world and every family there are differences but during the difficulties like this our cohesive is much more needed. We are Second Israel and you have to believe it, we fought Arab world like what Israel did. But we still sturdy and we well organized more than before!!!SPLA-Oyeeeeeee!

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    • 14 April 2012 09:37, by Alsudani

      I challenge SPLA to stay in Heglig more than 10 days. SPLA can attack and take lands but, how long? Do not rejoice, the coming days will teach you a new lesson, but painfully

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    • 14 April 2012 10:33, by Sundayw

      We are in South proper and we should not worry about cheap propaganda being carried out by the NCP regime. They know their survival is dependent on maintaining and aura of invincibility. Well, things are changing and will continue to change. There are no more territories to be left in the hands of resource thieves.

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    • 14 April 2012 22:12, by Deng Ateny Lueth

      "Let them come. We will meet where men meets. We will meet in the middle and not inside the children and elderly people. We will face them”, General James Hoth Mai of Sudan People Liberation Army chief of Staff bravely declared.
      Khartoum has resorted to asked allah to give them victory. but our Nhialic/ngun has braved us over them at the Battle of Panthou(Heglig). Will you come again!!!

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  • 14 April 2012 07:27, by omoni jr.

    There we go,panthou/Heglig is a south sudanese land.
    Khartoum dragged its feet when juba told them to demarcate the border,so now the boders must be demarcated by force so that people can stay peacefully.

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    • 14 April 2012 08:03, by dengtaath

      Dengtaath’s foretold
      The international communities are putting pressure on South Sudan to withdraw from Heglig, while on other side khartoum army are threating to retake it by force. this post war was completely predicted, it is an prevendable, it will be ugliest as Deng said, but Khartoum will never celebrate any inches in this post war, let see words of Dengtaath! SPLA wa hee, South Sudan wahee

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  • 14 April 2012 07:43, by George Bol

    We South Sudanese always vlountary in the warfare than any other things. Now,Omar Bashier has step on Salva Kiir mayardit tail unknowingly. SPLA has nothing to loss in this war. Good that Arab are soon will smell the rat in Panthou-Parieng county in Unity State, South Sudan.

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  • 14 April 2012 07:47, by Daniel Buolmawei

    What I have learned very weak about South Sudan now is diplomatic front. The world is not satisfied with South Sudan’s message. This is a challenge South Sudanese politicians and intellectuals alike have to acknowledge from this crisis.

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    • 14 April 2012 08:43, by Gogrialboys

      Daniel, you are exactly right and it is something that the leadership should look into. I don’t know why is it always Khartoum complaining to UN, AU and many other regional and international bodies, while southsudanese diplomats are silence? Khartoum always bombed our land and our innocent people are dying and displaced, and our government is just not heard taking issue to the same bodies.

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      • 14 April 2012 08:56, by Gogrialboys

        I’m saddened to see the world taking side, and not asking Khartoum or holding them accountable of the attrocities they cause to southsudanese people and their land. Khartoum invade Abyei killing hundreds of innocent people and displaced thousands of inhabitants, and the world was silence. They attack many areas in Southsudan,but the world instead, pressure southsudan to stop supporting the rebel.

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        • 14 April 2012 09:12, by Gogrialboys

          Where is the justice here if Khartoum keep bombing our land and the world is silence about it? With all violations that Khartoum initiated, dishonored all C.P.A protocals of Abyei, Nuba mountains, Blue Nile, and bombardment of Southsudanese territory even before referendom, the world has seen nothing. Khartoum took southsudan oil by force and no one in the world voiced concern.

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  • 14 April 2012 08:13, by Lok T Simon

    Dear Arab Sudanese,
    Time for salvery is over and now think twice either seeking to remain residential in Sudanese soil or seeking to go back where you came from. We knew every well that Arab community stayed in Sudan for some centuries but as per now we need to reveal out the truths and the truths you need to know for all is that Heglig is not only place black African needed but also all Sudan.

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  • 14 April 2012 08:21, by Kim Deng

    Lt. Gen. Hoth,

    The Mighty South Sudan’s army is more than ready to defend its motherland to the last man. It’s a matter of time before Abyei rejoin the mainland in no time.

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  • 14 April 2012 08:23, by Lok T Simon

    Heglig,

    Heglig has not been North Sudan or Arab community and it will not be theirs whatsoever the case might be. No any placenta of an Arab had been buried in Heglig since Arab communities came to Sudan as a traders; and so if they claimed to have Heglig because of Oil then they will take it when nobody remain alive in Southern Sudan.

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    • 14 April 2012 12:20, by Dinka Aliap Chawul

      I hate here name Heglig,this favor them and stoke more claim into the area.Panthou is our land,and we are going nowhere well said by Gen. Hoth Mai,let them come and we shall meets them where men meets,we’ll die in our land,Wani take much stand by saying we will die all with our army,yes MP! All South Sudanese will die with their Army,its all about matyrdomship.

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