April 25, 2012 (JUBA) – As border conflict with Sudan indicates the possibility of an all-out war, South Sudan on Tuesday laid the ground work for the formation of a country-wide mobilisation structure in support of the national army on the frontline.
- South Sudan’s army, or the SPLA, soldiers drive in a truck on the frontline in Panakuach, Unity state April 24, 2012. (Reuters)
President Salva Kiir Mayardit during the meeting of the ruling SPLM party three weeks ago in Juba called on the five border states with Sudan to mobilise their populations for a potential conflict with Khartoum.
On Tuesday the Vice President, Riek Machar, called for a joint meeting involving national ministers and leadership of the bicameral Juba parliament as well as representatives of the political parties, national unions, business community, local NGOs and civil society organisations in the country.
The meeting called for the formation of a wider national mobilisation body to coordinate efforts geared towards mobilising human and material resources to support the national army in the face of the "Khartoum’s aggression."
The national coordination committee will oversee the mobilisation of the population and establish an effective coordination mechanism with the various national groups and state committees.
This will include recruiting youth volunteers and ex-combatants into the army.
The committee will also attempt to inform the population about the history and causes of the border conflict with Sudan as well as assisting in diplomacy and informing the international community about the root causes of the conflict.
The meeting also called on institutions responsible for information and media outlets in the country to step up efforts in reflecting the nature of the border conflict with Khartoum.
Machar told the meeting that given the attitude of Khartoum, the withdrawal of the SPLA forces from the disputed Heglig/Panthou area did not mean the end of the conflict, warning that there could be "danger coming" which necessitated a robust mobilisation across the country to defend the nation’s territorial integrity and reclaim its occupied territories near the border.
South Sudan said it withdrew its forces from Heglig on April 20 in response to the international call to do so after it captured the oil-rich area from the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and occupied it for 10 days. Khartoum, however, claimed it forced the SPLA out of the area.
Sudan and South Sudan’s 1,800 kilometre long borderline has several disputed areas, including Heglig, stretching from Chad in the West to Ethiopia in the East. The border passes along ten states, five from each side.
South Sudan claims ownership of Heglig/Panthou and accuses Sudan of deliberately misinterpreting the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague on the boundaries of another disputed area - Abyei.
Machar who led the SPLM team to The Hague in 2009 said on several occasions that the court only ruled on the boundaries of Abyei and not on the borders between Sudan and South Sudan and the fate of Heglig.
The two countries were engaged in a process mediated by an African Union panel over the pending issues but failed to demarcate the borders before the peaceful independence of the Republic South Sudan in July 2011.
Al Jazeera | South Sudanese troops ’advance’ on Heglig | 25 April 2012