A prominent member of Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) says the country is officially in a state of war with South Sudan.
Rabie Abdelati Obeid condemned as unacceptable the “illegal invasion” of its territory after forces from South Sudan seized the key disputed oil town of Heglig. Obeid’s comments came after Sudan’s parliament unanimously voted to declare South Sudan an “enemy.”
He said the people of the Republic of Sudan assign the same status to South Sudan’s ruling party, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM).
“They are now angry,” he said, “since the invasion of Heglig…,” where “the Sudanese Armed Forces are now chasing the remaining rebels … from corner to corner.”
He says the government should take as tough a stance toward Juba as has Sudan’s national assembly.
Obeid said the country’s southern neighbor continues to foment trouble by refusing to withdraw from the disputed border town it seized.
“Their language is a language of war,” said Obeid.
“How can we talk to those people in the language of peace, when they are against peace and stability? And they have now intentionally invaded an area which doesn’t belong to them.”
Violence has escalated along Sudan and South Sudan's border despite the United Nations Security Council’s concerns about increasing conflict between the two neighbors.
Obeid said South Sudan has failed to abide by the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which effectively ended decades of war between the north and south.
“They are not respecting the CPA, and they don’t understand [it]. Their mind is actually oriented to war…and their culture is completely, different from a culture of peace,” said Obeid.
“There is no way now for talks unless we clean them out of the [Heglig] region...They started war; they invaded our area, and they distracted our localities. There is no way for any diplomacy.”
South Sudan said it will only withdraw from the oil town if the United Nations intervenes.
The African Union, which was helping mediate talks between the two neighboring countries, condemned south Sudan’s occupation of the town.
Obeid denied accusations that Sudan’s army uses Heglig as a base to launch attacks on unarmed civilians.
“If we want to do so, we should not have [allowed them to have] self-determination and the referendum,” he said, in reference to the ballot last year in which mostly Christian and black southerners voted to separate from the predominantly Arab and Muslim Republic of Sudan.
“Now we have clear evidence that they violated the peace, they violated the CPA, they invaded our area, they have committed a lot of mistakes and atrocities [and] they have caused a state of instability and insecurity. [Theirs is] is the behavior of rebels, not …of a government.”