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Sudan Tribune

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Khartoum’s aggression motivated by resources – Machar

May 1, 2012 (JUBA) – Khartoum’s aggression against South Sudan, according to its vice president, Riek Machar, is driven by the greed.

Machar said Khartoum intends to annex areas of South Sudan which are rich in resources.

South Sudan's VP Riek Machar (Reuters)
South Sudan’s VP Riek Machar (Reuters)
Juba and Khartoum are embroiled in an escalating military conflict in their borderlands.

The accusations were made at a conference organised by the Popular Committee for National Mobilization in Support of the Army in Juba on Tuesday.

Machar reiterated Juba’s claim that the oil-rich Heglig area is part of South Sudan, showing an unidentified map to the audience by way of proof.
Khartoum claims Heglig is part of its territory which was invaded by the South Sudan army (SPLA).

Fighting between SPLA and the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) in Heglig began around the end of March.

The SPLA claimed it was responding to SAF air and ground attacks in Unity state and repelled them all the way to Heglig. SAF claims the attack was unprovoked. Both sides claim the other has damaged the oil infrastructure in the area.

Machar claimed that Khartoum’s attempted annexing of Heglig began in 2004 when the adviser to the president of Sudan, Nafie Ali Nafie, directed the former governor of Unity state, Joseph Nguen Monytuil, to not include Heglig as part of Unity state, which Monytuil resisted.

Machar reiterated Juba’s position; that it is prepared for a peaceful resolution to the conflict but has a right to self-defence.

He also claimed Juba has a right to liberate the territories it considers to be occupied by SAF, including Heglig.

Machar denied Khartoum’s claim that the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague ruled that Heglig is within its borders.

He also accused Khartoum of not wanting the conduct of a referendum which was scheduled to take place in Abyei; another oil-producing region. The referendum, which was to afford residents of the area the right to vote on the statehood, was scheduled for January 2011, is yet to take place.

Despite claims that the SPLA incurred heavy loses in its conflict with SAF in Heglig, Machar said Juba’s forces withdrew in response to the calls of the international community.

SPLA claims to have captured equipment, including more than 120 vehicles and a large volume of fuel, from the area on April 20.

Post-independence talks between the two nations, on issues including border demarcation, broke down on March 26 when Kiir claimed that the military escalation was provoked by SAF’s coordinated aerial attacks on Jau and Pan Akuach followed by a ground forces assault against another area called Teshwin.

Machar, who is also the chairman of the National Mobilization Committee, added that South Sudan previously ignored Sudan’s encroachment and aggression in the run up to the referendum on South Sudanese independence, in order for it run smoothly.