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Sudanese president 'halts oil transfers' from South

© AFP

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2013-06-08

Sudan’s president has ordered the stoppage of cross-border oil flows from South Sudan, state radio announced on Saturday, just months after the long-time foes settled bitter disputes and agreed to restart the vital crude exports.

Sudan’s president ordered a stoppage of all South Sudan’s oil exports from Sunday, saying his neighbour was backing rebels on his territory, and bringing the foes back to the brink of confrontation after months of relative peace.

President Omar Hassan al-Bashir urged youths to join the army and prepare for “holy war”, though he did not spell out who the enemy would be in that conflict.

The order to shut pipelines carrying oil from landlocked South Sudan through Sudan to a port on the Red Sea - the South’s only route to market - came just three months after the countries ended a bitter dispute over crude.

Sudan and South Sudan - which split in 2011 after decades of war - agreed in March to restart the oil flow following a 16-month shutdown triggered by an argument over transit fees and other issues.

Crude had only just started to move through the pipelines in May, with the first cargoes sold last week for shipment from Port Sudan.

Western diplomats have said it is very costly to close the pipelines, which can become blocked if the waxy oil stops halfway.

South Sudan would also have to shut down its entire oil production because it has no storage facilities.

“Sudan will not allow revenues from oil exports from South Sudan to be used to support rebels and mercenaries against Sudan,” Bashir said, according to the SUNA state news agency.

“Bashir called on the youth to join the holy war and ordered the opening of army barracks and popular defence force camps from tomorrow,” SUNA added.

South Sudan’s information minister repeated his country’s longstanding denial that it backs or arms rebels bent on toppling Bashir.

“We haven’t heard anything about that (the oil stoppage) yet. We had agreed that the oil would flow,” Barnaba Marial Benjamin told Reuters.

A confirmed stoppage would dash hopes of an economic lifeline to both underdeveloped African countries, which have relied on oil exports and associated fees for a large part of their state incomes.

(REUTERS)

Date created : 2013-06-08

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