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Khartoum unhappy with US plans for a South Sudan donor conference

February 19, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese government criticized a proposed plan by the United States to host a South Sudan donors conference saying it will embolden Juba not to implement cooperation agreement signed last year.

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South Sudanese soldiers stand during President Salva Kiir’s visit to an oil refinery in Melut, Upper Nile State, South Sudan on November 20, 2012 (Getty Images)

The Sudanese foreign ministry spokesperson Al-Obeid Marwih suggested that Washington was seeking to avert what it saw as an imminent economic collapse in the oil-rich South Sudan.

Princeton Lyman, the outgoing U.S. special envoy to Sudan, announced last week that they will pull donors together to figure out ways by which they can assist the nation which came to life in July 2011.

The U.S. official warned that a collapse in South Sudan "would be calamitous" for the entire region.

More than a year ago, Juba suspended its oil production in response to Sudan’s seizure of a portion of the exported oil to make up for what it says are unpaid transit fees. The landlocked nation however, could only export its oil through the pipelines that run through Sudan’s territories and end at the Red Sea port city.

Last September, the two countries resolved the oil transit fee row and signed a deal, among several others in Ethiopia, to resume exports but Khartoum insists that security arrangements must be concluded first before it is implemented.

Marwih said that the conference will have a "negative impact" on the cooperation accords as Juba will drag its feet on outstanding security issues with Sudan.

The Sudanese official stressed that Juba backtracked on what was agreed upon in relation to resolving security issues and allowing for executing all cooperation deals in one go.

He alleged that lobby groups in Washington pressed the Obama administration to hold the conference for fear of seeing the new state drown into chaos.

Marwih said that South Sudan’s economy is in deep trouble because of the oil production halt adding that international community was keen on seeing Khartoum and Juba resolve their differences so that oil exports can resume and provide the much-needed cash.

In a related issue the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) expressed concern about situation in South Sudan in the wake of changes ordered by Salva Kiir in the army.

The NCP Organizational Communication officer Hamed Sideeg said that his party has failed to understand the direction or predict policies of South Sudan government due to different factions and pressure groups in Juba.

Sideeg expressed hope that Kiir’s army reshuffle would mean that pro-peace groups would prevail but warned that this change was nonetheless prompted by tribal considerations.

He said that Khartoum does not care who rules in Juba noting that they are only interested in maintaining good ties with South Sudan.

The NCP official also pointed out that Lyman remarks on a collapse in South Sudan is an indication of the west’s failure in continuing support to Juba which he said is plagued with corruption and lacks the ingredient of a state.

He said that United Nations and international aid groups provided the basic needs for Southern Sudanese and eventually managed to influence the policies of Juba’s government.

(ST)