South Sudan's leader accuses Khartoum of looking for ‘meaningless wars’
South Sudan President Salva Kiir accused Sudan on Thursday of using accusations that his government is supporting border rebels to justify "pending action" to try and draw the newly-independent nation back into "meaningless wars".
Kiir said accusations that the South is funding or providing rear-bases for rebels in war-torn Blue Nile and South Kordofan states were "utterly baseless and they are just maliciously planned" by Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to deflect from internal problems and mask his wish to reclaim the South.
"We do not have anything to do with them militarily or politically. All these accusations are actually a prelude from Khartoum to justify their pending actions against South Sudan," Kiir told reporters.
"Tomorrow, when Bashir invades South Sudan, then he will say yes, he took the action to revenge what was being done to him... They want to engage South Sudan in wars, meaningless wars."
Kiir dismissed Bashir's accusations that the South has been sending tanks and heavy artillery to South Kordofan, saying there were no roads and the route was impassable.
He said rebels of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement - North (SPLM-N) who fought alongside Kiir's former southern rebels during their 1983-2005 civil war with Khartoum were "the best equipped as they were the frontline to the north".
"When we voted for independence we did not withdraw these guns from South Kordofan and Blue Nile", but did withdraw all military commanders, he said.
Kiir did not respond to questions on when he and Bashir would next meet to negotiate on the outstanding issues between north and south, such as how to share oil revenues, demarcate borders and decide on the fate of the contested Abyei district, which Sudanese troops occupied in May.
"The intentions of Sudan are to run away from the real issues that we need to resolve," and to blame the South for rising economic and political woes in the north, Kiir said.
He accused his counterpart of sending rebels across the border to South Sudan's oil-rich northern states "to capture the oil fields" and topple his government which is 98 percent reliant on their revenues.
Kiir said his government would do all it could to resist being drawn back into conflict but would not be trampled on.
"The truth of the matter that people are not talking about is that Bashir and his group believed it was a mistake on their side, to hand over this, our beautiful land called South Sudan to the infidels, and they must take it back," he said.
"Despite our commitment to peaceful coexistence, we never allow someone to violate our sovereignty, whatever the conditions."
Kiir said Khartoum had been fighting a proxy war with the south since 2006, and condemned the latest Sudanese air strikes in the border region on Tuesday, when Khartoum reportedly bombed Gaffa, in Upper Nile state, killing seven civilians.
"It is not the first time that Bashir and his air force have done this to South Sudan," since the 2005 peace deal that paved the way for its independence in July, Kiir said, citing repeated bombings in Northern and Western Bahr al-Ghazal states against alleged rear-bases of Darfur rebels.
Kiir said South Sudan would continue to push for talks to resolve its differences with the north, despite Khartoum's decision to take its allegations of southern support for the SPLM-N to the UN Security Council last week.
"Let us not take our dirty laundry to be washed in front of everybody. Let us wash them in our houses," the southern leader said.
He said he hoped the international community would protect South Sudanese still living in the north from any reprisals by the Khartoum regime.