South Sudan, Sudan Claim Control of Heglig Despite Withdrawal

People wave Sudanese flags at soldiers during a celebration march outside Sudan's Defence Ministry in Khartoum, Sudan, April 20, 2012.
People wave Sudanese flags at soldiers during a celebration march outside Sudan's Defence Ministry in Khartoum, Sudan, April 20, 2012.

Sudan and South Sudan are both claiming to be in control of the Heglig oil fields, despite assurances from the Southern government that it is withdrawing its troops to avert a return to war.

The countries have given different accounts of the withdrawal. Early Friday, South Sudan said it was commencing an orderly and voluntary pullout from Heglig immediately.

Later that evening, however, South Sudan's ambassador to the United Nations, Agnes Oswaha, told reporters at U.N. headquarters in New York that southern forces were still in complete control of Heglig. She did confirm that all southern forces would be out of Heglig within 72 hours.

"The Republic of South Sudan took this decision because it does not wish to see a return to war and seeks an immediate resumption of negotiations between the two parties," said Oswaha.
Meanwhile, Sudan's ambassador to the United Nations, Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman, said earlier that Sudanese forces had retaken Heglig by force.  

"It's a pleasure and great honor for me and with great jubilation I convey to you that our heroic Sudanese Armed Forces have chased out the aggressors from Heglig," said Osman.

Ali Osman said Sudan is ready to resume talks with South Sudan if, in his words, the south's leaders "come to their senses" and negotiate without conditions.

Noting the withdrawal, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement calling on the governments of both countries to resume negotiations "immediately."

In Washington, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the United States is urging South Sudan to fully withdraw all forces from Heglig, and is calling on Sudan to immediately end any reprisal attacks.

"In parallel, we are also calling on the government of Sudan as we have regularly to halt their own cross-border attacks, particularly the provocative Arial bombardments, so that we can get back to a place where these two sides are working together and using mechanisms like the joint-border verification and monitoring mechanism to work through their issues," said Nuland.

South Sudan seized the Heglig oil fields on April 10, sparking fears of all-out war between the two countries. In a speech Wednesday, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir threatened to crush South Sudan's government like an "insect."

The South's information minister said Friday that Juba still considers Heglig to be part of its territory and wants the status of that area and other contested regions to be determined by international arbitration.

The two Sudans have been unable to resolve disputes over borders, oil, and citizenship stemming from the South's independence last July.

Chief disputes include the future of the oil-producing Abyei region and the sharing of oil revenue. The South took over three-fourths of Sudan's oil fields when it separated, but uses northern pipelines for export.

The countries have been fighting along their disputed border but the U.S. special envoy to Sudan, Princeton Lyman, said Thursday that both sides want to avoid a larger conflict.

"In the discussions I have had in both Khartoum and Juba, I can say with confidence that virtually everyone I have talked to has said, 'Look we don't want to go to all-out war with the other. We need to find a way out," said Lyman.

Before their separation, north and south Sudan fought a 21-year civil war that eventually led to southern autonomy and independence.

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs