South Sudan: South Sudan rejects Sudan UN complaint
South Sudan rejects Sudan UN complaint
Juba - South Sudan on Sunday rejected allegations it was arming insurgents in two conflict-stricken border regions in Sudan after its old civil war foe brought the charges to the United Nations Security Council.
South Sudan became the world's newest country in July after a referendum agreed under a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of war with Khartoum, but violence along the poorly-drawn border has strained relations between the two since then.
The two countries - which have yet to agree on issues such as how to manage the formerly integrated oil industry - have accused each other of supporting rebellions in their territory. Some analysts say the conflicts risk sliding into a proxy war.
This week, Khartoum submitted its second complaint to the Security Council, accusing South Sudan of supplying anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles, ammunition, land mines and mortars to the insurgent Sudan People's Liberation Army North (SPLA-N).
"This accusation is false. [We] are not supplying anybody. The north are supporting rebels in the south and they want to cover it up," South Sudan's army spokesperson Philip Aguer told Reuters by telephone.
"It should be the other way round. We should be complaining to the Security Council. We don't even have anti-aircraft missiles ourselves."
The SPLA-N forces in Sudan's Blue Nile and South Kordofan states served as the 9th and 10th divisions of the southern rebel forces during the civil war, but the peace agreement placed the areas they fought for in the north.
Many SPLA-N fighters' uniforms still show the flag of the former rebel group that won independence and now control South Sudan, although they severed formal ties in July.
Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir visited the former SPLA-N Blue Nile stronghold of Kurmuk to mark the start of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha on Sunday, after the country's army ousted rebels on Thursday.
Bashir presented a "strongly worded message" to South Sudan to refrain from supporting the rebels, Sudan's state news agency SUNA said, adding that Bashir called on residents to return to Kurmuk now that it was "purified" of SPLA-N forces.
Both South Sudan and the SPLA-N have denied the accusations of support.
"After separation of the south, the rebels in the SPLA-N in Blue Nile and South Kordofan became independent and got new leadership," Suleiman Osman, SPLA-N spokesperson for Blue Nile, said by telephone.
"We are fighting our own war in our own way. We are not being supported by anybody in the south."
Sudan and South Sudan have yet to agree on a raft of sensitive issues, such as who should control the disputed Abyei region and how much South Sudan should pay to use Sudan's oil pipelines and facilities.
Osman accused Sudan's army of attacking and burning villages around Kurmuk over the weekend to prepare for Bashir's visit.
"According to the commissioner of Kurmuk, 27 000 people have fled southwards into the forests," he said.
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