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South Sudanese Official Denies Rebel Support Charge

Pipelines criss-cross at the Paloch oil field in South Sudan on Sunday, May 5, 2013, when production resumed at the facility after a 16-month break.
South Sudan’s Minister of Information Barnaba Marial Benjamin has accused Sudan of using “blackmail” and “hostage taking” to talk about unilaterally abrogating internationally-sponsored agreements between the two countries.

He was reacting to reports that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has ordered the closure of all pipelines carrying oil from South Sudan beginning Sunday (June 9).

Bashir told a public rally in the capital, Khartoum, Saturday that the move was in response to South Sudan's support of rebels fighting the Khartoum regime in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile.

Benjamin denies South Sudan is supporting SPLM-N rebels. Instead, he said it is Khartoum which has been supporting South Sudan militias like the rebel group headed by David Yau Yau.

Benjamin said, while South Sudan has yet to receive an official communication about Bashir’s intentions, Khartoum cannot unilaterally revoke the “Cooperation Agreement” without first consulting with South Sudan.

“As we speak now, we have not got any official communication about that statement from the Republic of Sudan. But, having said so, the agreement, which is the Cooperation Agreement between the Republic of Sudan and South Sudan, is an agreement that has got international and regional implications. It is an agreement brokered by the African Peace and Security Council and with the support of the UN Security Council Resolution 2046,” he said.

Benjamin accused Khartoum of “blackmail” by regularly threatening to block South Sudan oil shipment.
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“It is the tradition and custom of any government in Khartoum, including this one. They are known for dishonouring agreements that they sign, especially when connected with South Sudan. This is the nature of diplomacy that they have been conducting, using blackmail and hostage- taking on issues that have nothing to do with the various agreements,” Benjamin said.

He denied South Sudan is supporting SPLM-N rebels.

“The reasons that they gave, which we hear publicly through the press, is that we are supporting rebels in their own country. That is Southern Kordofan and Southern Blue Nile. This is an internal issue. It has nothing to do with us whatsoever. So, they want to find scapegoat,” he said.

Benjamin accused Khartoum of supporting South Sudan militias like the rebel group headed by David Yau Yau.

“While I speak to you now, the militias they were supporting we just heard walked into our country, 3,000 South Sudanese militias that they armed to their teeth with the intention of asking to come and cause havoc in South Sudan. These people said, ‘No,’ they couldn’t do that after they entered our territory. They said they were responding to our amnesty and that they would not do this thing to our country,” Benjamin said.

He said it is undiplomatic for Khartoum to keep issuing threats. Benjamin said the Cooperation Agreement contains provisions through which both sides can iron out their differences.

“We have, for example, the joint peace and security mechanism, which is a commission. If there are any complaints, we can put our complaints there and discuss them. There is a forum for economic issues, for political issues, and for diplomatic issues. And, these are established within the context of the Cooperation Agreement,” Benjamin said.