Al-Bashir threatens war against South Sudan
SUDAN'S President Omar Hassan al-Bashir threatened war against his newly independent neighbour
He vowed to teach South Sudan a "final lesson by force" after it occupied a disputed oilfield.
Appearing in medal-spangled general's uniform at a large rally in the border province of North Kordofan, Bashir danced side-to-side, waved his walking stick in the air and made blistering threats against the leadership of the South, which broke off last year after decades of civil war.
"These people don't understand, and we will give them the final lesson by force," Bashir said in El-Obeid, North Kordofan's capital. South Sudan separated from the rest of Sudan with Bashir's blessing last July under the terms of a 2005 peace deal. But since then violence has steadily escalated, fuelled by territorial disputes, ethnic animosity and quarrels over oil.
Last week South Sudan seized Heglig, a disputed oilfield near the border, claiming it as its rightful territory and saying it would only withdraw if the United Nations deployed a neutral force there.
Bashir vowed to retake the oilfield, which he said was part of Sudan's Kordofan province. That alone would not resolve the conflict, he added.
"Heglig is not the end, but the beginning."
Global powers have voiced alarm at the escalation of violence and urged both sides to stop fighting and return to talks.
On Wednesday Bashir said he would "liberate" South Sudan from its rulers, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, which fought the guerrilla civil war against Khartoum.
There was no immediate comment from the South to yesterday's speech.
China, a major investor in both countries, expressed "serious concern" about the increase of tensions and called on both sides to stop fighting.
"China has worked hard to ameliorate the problems between the two Sudans and we will continue to work with the international community at mediation efforts," foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said.
About two million people died in Sudan's civil war, fought for all but a few years from 1955 to 2005 over disputes of ideology, ethnicity and religion.
The countries remain at odds over the position of their border, how much the landlocked South should pay to transport its oil through Sudan and the division of national debt, among other issues.
Both countries accuse each other of waging proxy war through militia operating on each other's territory.
Sudan's military is far better equipped than the former guerrilla fighters who make up the South Sudan army. - Reuters