South Sudan holds emergency cabinet meeting over oil shutdown
By MACHEL AMOS in Juba | Sunday, June 9 2013 at 14:46
President Salva Kiir of South Sudan. PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir called for an emergency meeting Sunday of the Council of Ministers to discuss Sudan’s shutdown of the oil pipeline.
Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir ordered the pipeline carrying South Sudan crude oil shut on Saturday, citing alleged support to rebels battling his government in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states.
“The decision to shut down the oil pipeline came after thoughtful considerations of all the consequences and expected impacts,” Sudan official news agency SUNA reported Bashir as saying.
A South Sudan minister who is not allowed to speak for the government said Juba was "appalled" by Bashir’s insistence to take the two countries to square one by “creating tension that threatens security of both countries.”
“We are not supporting the rebels. It’s a fact. Bashir is looking for excuses to run away from the agreements,” the minister said.
After more than two decades of fighting with successive Khartoum governments, South Sudan seceded in July 2011 with 75 percent of the crude oil Sudan was exporting.
But the landlocked infant nation needs the pipeline that runs through Sudan to export the commodity.
The flow was first shut down in January 2012, with South Sudan accusing Sudan of diverting and stealing her consignments. Sudan claimed it was paying itself for previous unpaid transit fees, a position Juba dismissed as false.
The tension that resulted, including air raids inside South Sudan, almost drove the neighbours into an all-out war in April 2012.
The oil flow resumed in April this year after Kiir and Bahsir signed nine cooperation agreements on oil, security, citizenship and border demarcation, among others.
Bashir’s new order is a major significant stumbling block to the normalisation of relations.