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Alawiyah Mukhtar

Bashir threatens military action against South Sudan rebels

Justice and Equality movement fighters have often clashed with Sudanese forces [AFP/Getty]

Date of publication: 29 April, 2015

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Sudan moves a step closer to intervention in southern neighbour state as Khartoum and Juba trade accusations of support for rebels.
Sudan's president has threatened to invade parts of South Sudan to crush rebel groups he accuses the Juba government of supporting.

Omar al-Bashir announced he would give South Sudan "one last chance" to avoid military intervention to disarm rebel groups on its territory. Khartoum accuses South Sudan of supporting the Justice and Equality Movement, which is fighting against government forces in the Darfur region.

Bashir's statement came shortly after winning a re-election in a poll widely regarded as rigged.

South Sudanese officials see Bashir's message as a threat to overthrow his counterpart, Salva Kiir, and bring to power the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-in-Opposition, led by Riek Machar.

Juba accuses Khartoum of backing Machar and sheltering a number of his supporters in Khartoum.

South Sudan's minister of information, Michael Makuei Lueth, told al-Araby al-Jadeed that Bashir's statements could pave the way for military operations in South Sudan. He said Bashir's pretext is pursuing the Justice and Equality Movement in his country, but denied any anti-Khartoum rebel groups were present in Juba.

"It is known that the Bashir regime supports the rebel group led by Riek Machar, and is making those political insinuations before invading the South on Machar's side," he said.

     It is known that the Bashir regime supports the rebel group led by Riek Machar.
Michael Makuei Lueth, South Sudan's information minister.
Lueth has previously said there was an agreement between Khartoum and Machar to reunify Sudan and South Sudan should he take power in Juba.

South Sudan left Sudan in 2011 after a 22-year civil war in which more than two million people died. Less than three years later, a civil war erupted inside the newly independent state, killing more than 10,000 people and displacing over two million.

On Sunday, the Sudanese army said South Sudan was hosting the Justice and Equality Movement and training its fighters to carry out sabotage attacks against oil installations and banks in Sudan.

There has been fighting in the state of South Darfur between Sudanese government forces and militants from the Justice and Equality Movement. Each side has declared victory and claimed it killed fighters and destroyed equipment belonging to the other side.

At the start of last week, the rebel group said it had targeted the forces of the pro-Khartoum militia in South Darfur, and vowed to continue its attacks.

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development in East Africa (IGAD) is planning to hold a meeting in Khartoum between Kiir and the head of the SPLM-IO Riek Machar early next month, al-Araby has learned.

IGAD is seeking to soften the positions of both parties with respect to a signing a comprehensive peace agreement and ending the war between the two sides, in addition to expanding Khartoum's participation in the negotiations.

However, recent developments may undermine this proposal. Some IGAD states have said Sudan cannot be seen as a neutral party in the conflict south of its borders.

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