December 23, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan’s foreign minister, Ali Ahmed Karti, has acknowledged that oil fields in South Sudan could be affected by the ongoing crisis and didn’t rule out that oil facilities in Unity state capital of Bentiu could be targeted by the conflicting parties.
- Families displaced by recent fighting in South Sudan, camp in a warehouse inside the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMISS) facility in Jabel, on the outskirts of capital Juba December 23, 2013. (Photo Reuters/James Akena
Juba acknowledged on Sunday that defected SPLA troops loyal to former vice-president Riek Machar has taken over the Unity state capital of Bentiu.
On Saturday, the fourth division commander of South Sudan’s army in oil-producing Unity state declared that he has deposed the caretaker governor and that his forces were no longer loyal to South Sudan president Salva Kiir.
Karti said in press statements on Monday that despite pledges made by Machar and other parties to the conflict not to target oil fields, those on the ground have their own agendas.
"Of course Machar vowed not to target oil fields but those on the ground have different calculations”, he said.
He advised the conflicting parties not to target oil wells which represent national wealth, stressing that Sudanese airlines and several foreign airlines continue to run more than one flight between Juba and Khartoum daily.
Reports from Juba say there are four flights between Khartoum and Juba fully booked transporting civilians who flee the ongoing clashes in the country.
However Karti denied any intentions to evacuate Sudanese nationals from South Sudan, saying that Khartoum government would intervene if deemed necessary.
The minister pointed that Sudanese nationals have lived for longtime in South Sudan and they have strong relations with the southerners unlike many other foreign communities.
He further said that the mediation initiative made by Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) countries was accepted by president Silva Kiir Mayardit and waiting for the response of the former vice-president Riek Machar.
Karti predicted that Machar would respond to the mediation initiative within few days and hoped for a positive response that is in favour of peace.
"We hope Machar’s response comes sooner in order not to waste the countries’ resources in a worthless war", he added.
He stressed that they reminded the conflicting parties of Sudan’s long civil war, saying that it was only resolved through dialogue and negotiations.
About 500 people had been killed in Juba since clashes broke out on December 15 between presidential guard units from the competing tribes of the Dinka and Nuer.
Reports on atrocities against civilians committed in others parts of the country and revenge attacks are also reported by different sources but there is no estimations about the number of victims.
Kiir Mayardit, a Dinka, accused his former deputy from the Nuer tribe and his supporters of orchestrating an alleged coup attempt to overthrow the government.
Machar denied plotting a coup and accused Kiir of using the clashes to get rid of his political opponents. He also rejected Kiir’s offer to sit down for talks unless the latter agrees to step down first.