News

Sudan-South Sudan Clash Prompts Urgent Mediation Effort

A high-level international team of mediators is gathering in Ethiopia's capital for another try at easing tensions that have brought Sudan and South Sudan to the brink of war. Diplomatic efforts are aimed at salvaging a crucial summit meeting that was canceled in the wake of this week's border clashes.

Senior Sudanese and South Sudanese military officers met in Addis Ababa Thursday to negotiate an end to cross-border hostilities that broke out days earlier at the oil center of Heglig.

African Union diplomats said South Sudan had withdrawn its troops from Heglig after what was described as the worst violence since the south became independent last July.

Heglig is in territory held by Khartoum, and companies there have continued to pump oil even after South Sudan halted its production in January. 

Meanwhile, AU High-Level Panel chief Thabo Mbeki was flying in to the Ethiopian capital for hastily-called ministerial level talks set to begin Saturday.

The venue for the talks had to be shifted because the hotel that hosted previous meetings was already booked.

At a previously scheduled consultations Thursday, senior AU and United Nations officials urged the two countries to put aside seething animosities and work in a spirit of compromise.

U.N. Undersecretary General for Peacekeeping Herve Ladsous said the international community is losing patience with the intransigence that has characterized the talks.

"The international community cannot stay passive," said Ladsous. "We have been on your side over the years, we remain on your side, but you have to help us help you, because too much is at stake; the future of your two countries, and more than that, the future of the region." 

The latest outbreak of hostilities has prompted cancellation of a scheduled summit meeting between Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and South Sudan's President Salva Kiir.  Negotiators see direct talks between the two leaders as the best hope for finding solutions that have evaded lower-level negotiators.

Speaking to VOA, the U.N.'s Ladsous expressed hope that the Bashir-Kiir summit might still be saved.

"We are very concerned that this is a reflection on the total lack of trust between the two parties," Ladsous. "And we would hope that beyond those unfortunate circumstances, it will not jeopardize the proposed summit between the two presidents that is a very important element for the future relationship between Sudan ad South Sudan."

Diplomats say the most critical issue facing negotiators is settlement of their dispute over oil revenues. Talks are currently frozen with production shut down and each side accusing the other of bad faith.

The UK special envoy for Sudan, Michael Ryder, said the impasse must be broken soon, because both sides are in increasingly dire financial condition.

"Neither side can afford this standoff," said Ryder. "The south, in particular is acutely dependent on the oil revenue.  We cannot see frankly how South Sudan can continue to support even the most basic state functions for more than a matter of months if the oil revenue does not return. The people of South Sudan are the ones who are suffering most from this and will continue to suffer unless government revenues are restored."

Officials arriving in Addis Ababa say the oil dispute is still too sensitive for discussion at the talks beginning Saturday. Those meetings will focus mostly on calming tensions, and on the less inflammatory border and nationalities questions.

They say the best they could hope for is a rescheduling of the Bashir-Kiir summit, which had originally been set for April 3.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs