* Allegation of bombing shatters relative 48-hour calm
* Security Council has threatened sanctions
* Sudan says to abide by ceasefire, but talks of self defence (Adds Sudanese
president visits Talodi)
By Yara Bayoumy
KHARTOUM, May 4 (Reuters) - South Sudan accused Sudan on Friday of attacking
its military positions in an oil region, imperilling the chances of a
promised ceasefire between the neighbours, but Khartoum denied the charge.
The 1,800 km-long (1,200 mile) border between the two countries had been
largely quiet for the past 48 hours, raising hopes they could begin talks to
end a series of clashes over oil exports, border demarcation and citizenship
that have pushed them closer towards a full-blown war.
South Sudan's army (SPLA) spokesman Philip Aguer said Khartoum was again on
the offensive on Friday: "Today they hit our positions with ground artillery
in Teshween, Lalop and Panakuach."
Aguer said Sudanese warplanes had also bombed Lalop in South Sudan's Unity
state on Thursday and an SPLA position had been shelled in Teshween.
Sudan's army spokesman denied the charge.
"None of this is true. On the ground there are other enemies, like
opposition (groups) to the South Sudanese," Sudanese army spokesman
al-Sawarmi Khalid said.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on Sudan on Friday to stop
all cross-border attacks, "particularly its provocative aerial
Reports of the attacks came after Sudan said it was ready to accede to
international demands for a halt to hostilities, albeit with a significant
"The ministry points out, in light of the repeated attacks and aggressions
that South Sudan's army is carrying out, ... the Sudanese armed forces will
find itself forced to use the right to self defence," the foreign ministry
said on Thursday.
Limited access to the remote border areas makes it difficult to verify often
contradictory statements from both sides.
THREAT OF SANCTIONS
The U.N. Security Council on Wednesday passed a resolution threatening Sudan
and South Sudan with sanctions unless they stopped fighting and resumed
talks within two weeks, endorsing an African Union deadline of May 8 for
negotiations to begin.
Sudan's ruling National Congress Party (NCP) has shrugged off the threat,
saying such U.S.-backed resolutions "aim to punish Sudan and reward the
aggressor", the state SUNA news agency said on Friday.
Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, in power since 1989, had at first
ruled out negotiations with his southern "enemy". Sudan later said it was
willing to talk about "security issues", as both neighbours accuse each
other of backing rebel militias. Both deny the charges.
"This is not someone who wants to negotiate. The security problems with
north and south have to be addressed first. How could you go for
negotiations when someone's armed forces is still in our territory," Mahdi
Ibrahim, a leading official from Sudan's NCP, told reporters in Nairobi.
"Let the issues of security be addressed before we hold negotiations on oil
and other issues," Ibrahim added.
The African Union has drawn up a seven-point road map for peace that demands
both countries withdraw their troops from contested areas and resume talks.
S. SUDANESE TO BE AIRLIFTED
Sudan, which was Africa's largest country before the South gained
independence in July, sits atop some of the continent's most significant oil
But it lost three-quarters of the oil after Juba's seceded under a 2005
settlement that ended two decades of civil war between north and south. The
pipelines to export the oil run through the north, however, and a dispute
about how the oil wealth should be divided has stoked fears of war.
The conflict has brought nearly all oil production to a standstill, damaging
both countries' struggling economies.
New York-based Human Rights Watch has accused Sudan's forces of conducting
"indiscriminate bombings and abuses" against civilians in South Kordofan, a
Sudanese region that borders South Sudan. Sudan dismissed the charges.
The Sudanese army has been fighting the SPLM-N, a rebel group, in South
Kordofan and Blue Nile, another Sudanese border region, since last year.
"The government does not attack civilians. The ones who are (attacking) are
the SPLM-N and this is their creed. The government is committed to
protecting its civilians from these rebel movements that indiscriminately
loot and kill," Rabie Abdelatie, an advisor at Sudan's information ministry
Bashir visited Talodi on Friday, a town in South Kordofan which the SPLM-N
last week said they controlled. The Sudanese army denied that account.
"As we perform Friday prayers in Talodi today, we hope to pray next week in
Kauda," Bashir was quoted as saying by the state SUNA news agency, referring
to an SPLM-N stronghold.
The SPLM-N said Bashir's forces would struggle to get that far. "It will be
very difficult for him to pray in Kauda," SPLM-N spokesman Arnu Lodi told
South Sudan's breakaway left tens of thousands of South Sudanese stranded as
foreigners in Sudan.
The International Organisation for Migration said on Friday the Sudanese
government had agreed to help organise an airlift of about 12,000 South
Sudanese who had been stranded in Sudan's White Nile state. They will be
brought to Khartoum by bus and then airlifted to Juba, IOM said. (Additional
reporting by George Obulutsa in Nairobi; Editing by David Clarke and Andrew
Malawi moves to block visit by Sudan's wanted Bashir
Fri May 4, 2012 7:16pm GMT
* President asks African Union to stop Bashir attending
* Sudan leader wanted by international court
* Malawi seeks to restore overseas aid
* Sudan says Malawi can not block visit (Adds Sudanese government reaction)
By Mabvuto Banda
LILONGWE, May 4 (Reuters) - Malawi President Joyce Banda said on Friday she
had asked the African Union to prevent Sudan's wanted leader Omar Hassan
al-Bashir from attending a summit in her country, saying his visit would
have "implications" for the economy.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued arrest warrants for
Sudan's President Bashir to face charges of masterminding genocide and other
war crimes during his nation's Darfur conflict.
Malawi angered international donors when it played host to Bashir last year
- ICC members countries like Malawi are supposed to arrest people wanted by
the global court.
Banda, who became president last month with promises to restore relations
with donors, said on Friday she had asked the African Union not to invite
Bashir to the African heads of state summit in her country in July.
"I have written them because of the economic implications this may have on
Malawi," she told a news conference.
"Let the AU decide on his position. He (Bashir) should forgive us this time
as we are struggling to fix the economy."
She did not go into details of what economic implications Bashir's visit
would have on her impoverished southern African nation.
But Banda has in the past promised to restore a flow of overseas aid cut
under the rule of her predecessor Bingu wa Mutharika. That cut left a gaping
hole in a budget that relies on overseas assistance for about 40 percent of
The announcement is likely to infuriate Bashir, who has already had to
restrict his movements to a relatively small circle of friendly nations
since his indictment.
The Sudanese government said Malawi had no right to make such a request.
"This will not happen, because the host country does not have the right to
dictate who comes. This is according to the AU," Sudanese foreign ministry
spokesman El-Obeid Morawah said in Khartoum.
"Since Sudan is a member of the AU, it has a right to attend the summit. The
hosting country does not have the right to say who comes," he said.
Mutharika's government allowed Bashir to attend a regional trade summit last
year, citing "brotherly coexistence".
The move strained ties with donors, including the United States and European
nations, who had already frozen projects in Malawi due to Mutharika's
suspected human rights violations and growing autocracy. Mutharika died last
month of a heart attack.
Malawian government press secretary Ruth Govati said on Friday Banda would
not be able to comment immediately on why Malawi was going through the AU to
block Bashir or what she planned to do if he came.
The International Criminal Court, the world's first permanent war crimes
court, has no police force of its own and relies on member states to carry
out arrests. (Additional reporting by Yara Bayoumy in Khartoum; Editing by
Jon Herskovitz and Andrew Heavens)
C Thomson Reuters 2012 All rights reserved
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Received on Fri May 04 2012 - 16:20:39 EDT