Thursday 23 November 2017

Kiir accuses Sudan of being 'source of weapons' in South Sudan war

Kiir accuses Sudan of being 'source of weapons' in South Sudan war
(AFP 11/03/17)

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir on Thursday accused Sudan of being a "source of weapons" fuelling the brutal civil war in his country as he met leader Omar al-Bashir in Khartoum.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in South Sudan's civil war that erupted in December 2013, less than three years after it gained independence from the north.

Since then ties between Khartoum and Juba have remained tense amid border disputes and mutual allegations of supporting rebels in each other's countries.

On Thursday, Kiir fired a fresh salvo at Sudan on day two of his two-day visit to Khartoum.

"If there is someone who can accuse the other, it is me who can accuse Sudan," Kiir said at a joint news conference with his Sudanese counterpart Bashir.

"Sudan now is the source of weapons that are going to South Sudan and creating problems for us."

Kiir's accusation, made minutes before he ended his trip, came at a time when his visit was actually aimed at resolving thorny issues with Sudan.

Juba has regularly accused Khartoum of aiding Kiir's opponent and former deputy Riek Machar in South Sudan's civil war which has also uprooted millions.

Sudan has regularly accused its neighbour of supporting rebels in its war-torn regions of Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan.

Kiir on Thursday reiterated allegations that Khartoum aided Machar, who is currently living in exile in South Africa, and fighters loyal to him.

"Those people of Machar who fled from South Sudan have come here. I can give their names right now," said Kiir.

Machar himself had come to Khartoum last year for medical treatment.

- 'Positive approach' -

Bashir said Khartoumhad adopted a policy of not interfering in any country's affairs given its past experiences.

Khartoum had previously backed opposition groups in Chad, Ethiopia and Eritrea, Bashir said.

"But the real result of that was that citizens living along the borders on the two sides faced losses and insecurity," Bashir said.

"For this reason, we in Sudan took a decision of never to support any movement, and adopt a positive approach to cooperate with those countries."

He said Khartoum-Juba relations between were now at a "crucial point".

"We feel that our brothers from South Sudan are going through special conditions, which is why they have full freedom to move anywhere in the country," Bashir said, referring to South Sudanese refugees pouring into Sudan.

Thursday's statement from Kiir came a day after Bashir told him of Khartoum's intention of resolving all pending issues between the two neighbours and take their relations forward.

"Sudan is supporting South Sudanese people and has kept open its territories to deliver humanitarian aid to South Sudan, and will also step up efforts for peace in South Sudan," Bashir told Kiir on Wednesday, according to Sudanese official news agency SUNA.

Sudan has more than 450,000 South Sudanese refugees who have arrived in the country since the war broke out in South Sudan, the United Nations says.

Khartoum estimates they number 1.3 million.

Accepting South Sudanese refugees played a big role in Washington's decision last month to lift its decades old trade embargo against Khartoum.

The sanctions were lifted after Washington saw "progress" made by Sudan on conditions it had to meet for lifting the embargo, including halting support for insurgents in neighbouring South Sudan.

South Sudan gained independence after the Christian majority south split from the Muslim north in 2011 after a 22-year civil war that killed hundreds of thousands.

But the world's youngest nation quickly fell into a civil war after Kiir accused Machar of plotting a coup.

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