South Sudan Announces Heglig Withdrawal

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir waves to the crowd gathering outside the Defense Ministry in the capital Khartoum to celebrate retaking the oil town of Heglig from South Sudanese forces, April 20, 2012.
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir waves to the crowd gathering outside the Defense Ministry in the capital Khartoum to celebrate retaking the oil town of Heglig from South Sudanese forces, April 20, 2012.
Hannah McNeish

South Sudan has said it will withdraw troops from an oil-rich area it seized last week that is also claimed by Sudan, easing tensions with its former civil war foe and fears of a return to all-out war.

Reading a statement from South Sudan President Salva Kiir, government spokesman Barnaba Marial Benjamin announced the pullout of South Sudan‘s army -- the SPLA -- from the Heglig area on Friday.

Called Panthou by South Sudan, the Heglig oil field produces half of Sudan’s oil, and the international community has repeatedly called for South Sudan to withdraw as war rhetoric from Sudan has mounted.

"In conformity with the U.N. Security Council presidential statement, and in response to appeals by world leaders and to create an environment for the resumption of dialogue with Sudan, the Republic of South Sudan announces that SPLA troops have been ordered to withdraw from Panthou-Heglig," said Benjamin. "An orderly withdrawal will commence immediately and shall be completed within three days."

But Benjamin said that South Sudan’s pullout did not mean it had given up its claims to Heglig or other contested areas along the oil-rich border that has yet to be defined following southern independence in July.

He said that South Sudan expected the status of these areas to be determined by international arbitration and for Sudan to cease hostilities.

“In addition, the Republic of South Sudan calls on Sudan to immediately desist from air bombardments and ground incursions into the territory of the Republic of South Sudan," Benjamin said.

Benjamin also called on the international community to play a bigger role in resolving the outstanding issues between the two nations.  The issues include how to share vast oil revenues on which both sides are heavily reliant, and divide oil-rich territory along the border.

African Union-led talks over the last nine months collapsed when border fighting started on April 1.  South Sudan has said it is willing to return to negotiations if the international community gives the talks more support.

The South has said it would react if Sudan carried out threats from President Omar al-Bashir to advance and crush the southern government like an “insect."

But while the South said that its withdrawal from Heglig was not a defeat, Sudan claimed Heglig as a military victory -- a sign that the two sides are still closer to war than peace.

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Comment Sorting
by: hassan
April 23, 2012 12:37 AM
Please do not mix things ,it has nothing to do with Islam or Christianity. South Sudanese lived for decades in the North and I challenge any such claim. The problem is the SPLM who are controlling the poor South Sudanese. The problem is fighters governing a country with Jungle mentality. It domed to become a failed state especially when they see absolute support by the WEST.

by: Mohamed Hfaiz
April 21, 2012 10:29 PM
As you all see how the SPLA escapes from Heglig leaving their dead poeple behind and their weapons , the cowards always escape ,they invaded Heglig ,but they don not know us well . Isee the coward with my own eye how they are running,we swear by GOD as Sudanese not to stop at Heglig a hard lesson will give to Salva and his people.

by: LOKA
April 21, 2012 9:45 AM

by: Afrikao
April 20, 2012 9:47 PM
Peace is the answer NOT war...... I thought after all of these years of fighting each others, the sudanese people want peace and nothing else ...... May be I am just a damn dreamer after all. What a shame!

by: Boson
April 20, 2012 3:44 PM
What is that means for the south to withdraw the troops from the area that we think is ours? why we listening to the UN and AU? for withdrawing our troops.How about people to think that we are claiming the places that are not our then what we gonna say? the withdrawing of the troops is not right for somebody to order us as we are not free looks like as we are under somebody control.

by: Muneer
April 20, 2012 2:24 PM
People of the South are good, honest people. We in the north have nothing against South Sudanese people.
It is the SPLM (the guys with the us$10,000 suits), that we are against.
The best dressed government in the world. An SPLM official wears US$50,000 minimum in each dressing. What does that say about good governance?

by: Henry Reriani
April 20, 2012 2:14 PM
Now let the UN force sudan to withdraw from Abyei. Khartoum Arab suprimacist ideology is the biggest threat that the christian led country in east and horn Africa face after Al-shabaab. the christianity led Horn-of-Africa countries must have the courage to confront and defeat this radicals. otherwise blacks and christians will never be safe.
congratulations SPLA!!!!

by: joseph lexton
April 20, 2012 1:52 PM
people who said or believe that south is weak let them talk as they "like" but my advise to security council that south sudan are for"peace" and 'dialogue" let me clarified to you our fellow north sudanese pray heart that one day your sudan army force not to enter INCH OFsouth sudan " territory" warning.

by: Mohamed
April 20, 2012 11:47 AM
Liar liar pants on fire.
SPLM is the biggest liar.
Last week.....the "Ban Ki Mon has no right to give us orders" said Salva Kiir
The past 2 days...."We will never withdraw from Heglig it is ours" said Salva Kiir.
Yesterday....."I heard you ran away(to his soldiers),.....burn all the oil fields so they don't benefit from them". Said Taban Deng governor of Unity State.

Today......"we are listening to the international community."
I call them liars!

by: Nyoung Koang
April 20, 2012 8:39 AM
International community is against South Sudan!

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