April 21, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese First Vice President Ali Osman Taha suggested that negotiations with South Sudan are pointless and attached certain conditions for that to happen.
- Sudanese Vice President Ali Osman Taha (C) and Defence Minister Abdel-Rahim Mohamed Hussein (R) visit a soldier, who was wounded in recent clashes with South Sudanese forces in the state of South Kordofan, at a military hospital in the capital Khartoum on April 13, 2012 (AFP)
In an interview with Blue Nile TV, Taha also accused Juba of launching economic war on Sudan and gave the example of last week’s attack on the oil-rich region of Heglig by South Sudan’s army (SPLA). The latter occupied it for ten days before Khartoum’s army managed to take it back on Friday.
South Sudanese officials insist that they withdrew voluntarily upon direct orders from President Salva Kiir.
The Sudanese VP claimed that the SPLA damaged the operating system software of Heglig oil facilities and set the main controls of the plants on fire. The details and scope of the destruction will be revealed in the coming hours, he added.
Sudan state TV aired footage from inside Heglig showing major destruction in the town while oil facilities were still burning and efforts were made to put out the fires.
The safety officer in Heglig oil field Osama Al-Sayed alleged that the SPLA caused impairment of the pumping station at the main field after destroying the central control room and the oil processing center.
"Production stopped [in Heglig] throughout the war and that was pumping around 70,000 barrels and now we have lost about 60% of oil production in the North" al-Sayed said.
Heglig’s oil fields account for roughly half of Sudan’s oil production. Any loss in production capacity will further compound the country’s economic woes that were triggered by the loss of the oil-rich south last July.
The Washington-based Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) said in a statement today that new satellite imagery revealed that a key part of the pipeline infrastructure was destroyed.
“The damage appears to be so severe, and in such a critical part of the oil infrastructure, that it would likely stop oil flow in the area,” SSP’s statement read.
“Based on Harvard Humanitarian Initiative analysis of DigitalGlobe satellite imagery, SSP has concluded that what appears to be an oil collection manifold – equipment which allows for the diversion or combination of oil flows without interruption – was apparently blown up in some type of explosion,”
SSP went on to say that it cannot make a determination whether the damage resulted from aerial bombardment by Sudan air force or from ground battles between north and south armies.
Sudan said it will sue South Sudan internationally to seek reparations for the damages in Heglig.
Taha accused South Sudan of impeding the agricultural season and destroying crops. This along with the Heglig incident, he said was aimed at paralysing Khartoum economically to push Sudanese people towards revolution against the government.
He dismissed Juba’s talk about resuming post-independence negotiations describing it as an attempt to jump over its defeat in Heglig.
“What negotiations and what interest is Juba looking for when it isn’t even respecting its citizens?” Taha asked.
The Sudanese VP stressed that there will be no return to talks with Juba before the withdrawal of all its troops from Sudanese territory. Taha added that he doesn’t think peace will be achieved with Juba’s current leaders.
He accused the US of siding with Juba despite Washington’s call for immediate and complete withdrawal of SPLA from Heglig.