February 6, 2012 (JUBA) – The president of South Sudan Salva Kiir on Monday launched a fierce attack on his Sudanese counterpart Omer Hassan al-Bashir calling him a “thief” and urging him to surrender himself to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
- Sudanese President Omer Hassan al-Bashir (L) and South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir (R) attend the inauguration of the new African Union (AU) building in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, January 28, 2012 (Reuters)
Addressing members of the Sudan People Liberation Army (SPLA) at Bilpam military base in South Sudan’s capital of Juba, Kiir reiterated his country’s threat to sue Khartoum over oil it confiscated since late last year.
The landlocked new nation took three-quarters of the oil production, the lifeline of both economies, but needs to pay for using northern export facilities and the Red Sea port of Port Sudan.
The Sudanese government started seizing a portion of South Sudan’s oil pumped through the pipelines running in the north’s territory saying that this measure was taken after Juba failed to pay fees for exporting the crude which it said was close to $1 billion.
South Sudan responded by shutting down its entire output of 350,000 barrels a day.
Khartoum and Juba’s negotiations on the oil transit fees made little progress after the former insisted on charging $32 per barrel while the latter is pushing for a $1 fee.
Kiir revealed that he pressed East African leaders to convince Bashir not to confiscate any of South Sudan’s oil.
“We asked them to talk him out of this step but Bashir carried out what he decided so we were forced to close down oil wells because we are a sovereign nation and required to preserve our wealth,” he said.
The southern leader disclosed that while shutting down oil wells they discovered that there were more wells than were recorded during the transition to an independent state last July.
He suggested that this enabled Khartoum to “cheat” on the quantity of oil produced since the signing of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended the north-south civil war which claimed 2 million lives.
Kiir refuted Bashir’s assertions that he backed away from signing a framework agreement in Addis Ababa after initially agreeing to it before Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.
“When I entered the [meeting] room I found Bashir telling jokes and I spoke to him in a good spirit. Shortly afterwards they brought the [agreement] document but I informed them that the proposals contained therein are left to the heads of the [negotiation] delegations; Pagan [Amum] and Idriss Abd-el-Kader and then I left” he explained.
The SPLA commander in chief called on his soldiers not to attack northerners under any circumstances.
“Any northern guy coming here fleeing war or Bashir do not ask him. Listen very well to me; I don’t want to hear that any one of you stirred trouble with northerners staying in Juba because they themselves are sick of Bashir” Kiir said.
“Our problem is with Bashir and the gang of thieves around him,” he asserted.
‘I will send my four sons to war’
Kiir downplayed the warning made by Bashir last week that war has become a real possibility.
“If Bashir wants to fight us in Juba, we will meet him in Judat [al-Fakkar border region]” he said.
The South Sudan leader was apparently also responding to remarks made by Sudan’s 2nd vice president al-Haj Adam Youssef last month in which he said that Khartoum’s army could strike as far as Juba in pursuit of hunting rebels operating in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
But Kiir said that Bashir lacks “good thinking” as he wants to rush to war with South Sudan before resolving his other troubles. He also mocked Bashir’s talk about uniting the south by force saying that “he is dreaming”.
He said that he will not hesitate to send his four sons to war should it erupt with the north adding that Bashir wants to slaughter the Sudanese people.
“We are the most people to like northerners in Darfur, Nuba and Beja; All people up in the north are our friends…But he [Bashir] hates the Southerners" Kiir said.
He called on Bashir to surrender himself to the ICC and embark on a trip to The Hague saying that the prisons there are luxurious.
“He should get out of this heat and go to the cold country there [Netherlands]” Kiir said mockingly.
Bashir was indicted in 2009 & 2010 by the ICC for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Darfur, where some 300,000 people are thought to have died in violence raging since a rebellion erupted there nine years ago. Sudan has refused to hand him over to the Hague-based court.