Sudan sees 'difficulties' implementing UN resolution

By Ian Timberlake
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By Ian Timberlake

5/5/2012 8:10:01 PM -

KHARTOUM (AFP) - Sudan on Saturday said there may be "some difficulties" implementing a United Nations resolution that aims to end weeks of border fighting and resolve outstanding issues with South Sudan.

The foreign ministry said it had confirmed in writing to the UN Security Council and the African Union its commitment to stopping hostilities under the resolution approved on Wednesday.

But it also told them that Sudan had certain reservations "which may create some difficulties in fully implementing" it, a ministry statement said without elaborating.

Magdi El Gizouli, a fellow at the Rift Valley Institute, a non-profit research group, said that although Sudan's foreign ministry sees the UN resolution as "something they could work with," there is high-level opposition within the ruling National Congress Party.

"Of course, this is an ominous sign," the Sudanese analyst told AFP from his base in Germany.

Philip Aguer, a South Sudan army spokesman, also said Khartoum "is divided between those who want war and those who want peace, unlike South Sudan that has accepted the UN Security Council resolution."

Speaking on Friday on the official Radio Omdurman, Khartoum's Foreign Minister Ali Karti said "some people" within Sudan object to the roadmap and "want to put the country in trouble."

There were no reports of direct fighting on Saturday after the UN's 1500 GMT Friday deadline passed for the two sides to end the violence.

Both Khartoum and Juba have pledged to seek peace after the Security Council resolution threatened sanctions if they do not comply.

"It is all calm so far. We've not got any information from the front lines" of further hostilities, said Malaak Ajok, a spokesman for the South Sudanese army.

But Sudan maintains that South Sudanese "aggression" continues in the form of direct occupation of other disputed areas along the border, and by support for rebel groups inside Sudan.

In its letter to the UN and the African Union, Sudan again repeated an allegation that South Sudanese troops occupy three points along the Darfur border.

The frontier between the two countries has not been demarcated, but Sudan maintains the three points are "Sudanese land" and if the South does not withdraw it will force them out.

A border war between the two nations began in late March, culminating in the South's occupation of Sudan's main Heglig oil region and Sudanese air strikes against the South.

Both the air strikes and the occupation were condemned by the international community.

The South said it pulled out of Heglig in response to international calls, but Sudan said its military forced out the occupiers.

Allegations of clashes continued up to the UN deadline, which the world body imposed because the border situation "constitutes a serious threat to international peace and security."

Sudan accuses the South of backing anti-government rebels from its conflict-hit western region of Darfur as well as those fighting since last year in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.

Gizouli said Khartoum previously considered the rebels in those two states as insurgents, albeit backed by South Sudan.

But since the Heglig occupation it has started calling them "a foreign army."

South Sudan rejects allegations that it backs opposition movements inside Sudan and in turn accuses Khartoum of supporting rebels south of the border.

Under the resolution, Sudan and South Sudan must stop supporting insurgents in each other's territory.

The UN set a series of deadlines, including a resumption of negotiations within two weeks on issues left unresolved after South Sudan separated last July following a 22-year civil war.

These include oil payments, the status of each country's citizens resident in the other, disputed border areas and the contested Abyei region.

European Union diplomatic chief Catherine Ashton said Sudan and South Sudan have taken an important first step by welcoming the roadmap and confirming their commitment to end hostilities.

"These statements must now be matched by actions on the ground and by the immediate resumption of negotiations," starting with talks to address security concerns, she said.

Meanwhile, up to 15,000 ethnic South Sudanese encamped south of Khartoum will be flown to South Sudan, avoiding a May 20 expulsion deadline by local authorities, the International Organisation for Migration said on Saturday.

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