Conflict & Justice

Sudan declares state of emergency along border with South Sudan


A South Sudan People's Liberation Army soldier in Heglig, on April 17, 2012. The South Sudan government eased tensions on Friday by beginning the withdrawal of all its troops from Heglig.


Adriane Ohanesian

Sudan has declared a state of emergency along its border with South Sudan, giving the authorities in the area wide-ranging powers of arrest and detention.

President Omar al-Bashir issued a resolution Sunday declaring an emergency in the disputed border districts of South Kordofan, White Nile and Sennar states, the BBC reports.

The decree reportedly “gives the right to the president and anyone with his mandate” to set up special courts, in consultation with the chief justice, to try suspects facing terror and customs offenses.

The move follows a series of increasingly violent border clashes since South Sudan secured its independence from the North last July, which have led some analysts to predict all-out war between the East African neighbors.

The current round of fighting began earlier this month when South Sudanese forces seized the Heglig oilfield area from its former civil war foe, occupying the territory for 10 days.

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Sunday’s decree comes a day after a Briton, a Norwegian, a South African and a South Sudanese were captured by Sudanese troops in Heglig, the Associated Press reports.

A Sudanese army spokesman claimed that the four were carrying out military activities in the area.

However, a Norwegian humanitarian organization, the Norwegian People’s Aid, said the three foreigners had been involved in five-day mine-clearing mission.

Meanwhile, South Sudanese authorities have told the United Nations (UN) that the country is prepared to pull its police forces out of the disputed oil-producing Abyei border region to meet a demand from the African Union.

“The minister of interior will enhance the withdrawal of South Sudan’s police force from Abyei… as long as the UN and African Union will look after its citizens in the area,” a South Sudanese spokesman told the Agence France Presse on Saturday.

The UN has urged Sudan and South Sudan to withdraw troops and police from disputed regions along their 1,800 kilometer frontier, Reuters reports.

The conflict between the two countries has stopped almost all oil production in both states, damaging their already precarious economies.  

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