July 22, 2012 (AWEIL) - South Sudan on Sunday denied providing any military support or hosting rebel groups who are fighting the government of neighbouring Sudan, arguing that Khartoum was only "covering attacks" its army carried out inside its territory.
- Fighters of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) rest in the bush as they drink tea (file/Reuters)
Khartoum on Saturday dismissed South Sudanese accusations of bombing different locations in Northern Bahr el Ghazal State on Friday, stressing that it had bombed a convoy of Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) rebels inside its own territory who arrived in South Darfur State from South Sudan.
However, South Sudan’s minister of information and media affairs Barnaba Marial Benjamin on Sunday denied the presence of the Sudanese rebel group in the area and described news reports and quotes from Sudanese officials as "mere political propaganda and cover up" for attacks by the Sudanese army.
"Sudan is making unfounded allegations to cover up the well documented attacks it[s] troops has carried out in areas inside territorial boundary of the republic of South Sudan ever since we became an independent state," the minister said on Sunday.
“There has never been presence of any military groups anywhere in any part of South Sudan nor do we provide any sort of support", he further said stressing that Sudan continue to "make unfounded lies and claims".
Also the two countries agreed in a strategic framework signed on 7 July to build confidence and to cooperate in total transparency to implement a number of security arrangements dealing with the presence of rebel groups.
JEM’s spokesperson on Sunday dismissed, once again, the statements of the spokesperson of the Sudanese negotiating team Omer Dahab who said the army bombed the rebel groups inside the Darfur region.
"JEM has not come under any aerial bombardment in the past few days, neither in South Kordofan, West Kordofan, South Darfur or anywhere else in Sudan", said Gibreel Adam Bilal.
The country’s military sources in the capital of Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Aweil city, on Sunday told Sudan Tribune that situation along the state’s border with Darfur remains under control.
However, local officials claim the presence of heavy weapons and movement of tanks with troops towards the border, generating fearing of possible retaliation if the Sudanese army launch ground incursion in the state.
The countries clashed in April over Heglig/Panthou when the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) occupied the oil area accusing Khartoum of carrying out multiple ground attacks deep inside Unity State. Khartoum said it was pursing JEM rebels.
JEM dismissed again today the accusations of the Sudanese government of air strikes on rebel combatants belonging to the rebel group.
JEM has not come under any aerial bombardment in the past few days, said JEM spokesperson Gibreel Adam Bilal on Sunday.
"Attacks on opponents during negotiations have been a prime policy tactic of the Khartoum government and as such, there is nothing new in this callous incident, deliberately aimed at weakening the South at the negotiating table", he added.
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) threatened to impose economic sanctions on the two countries if they fail to reach a comprehensive settlement, by 2 August, of unresolved issues they have been discussing for more than a year.