October 25, 2007 (Sudan Tribune)
In an apparent move to ease tensions between the Sudanese army and the former rebel group Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), the First Vice President met today with the minister of Defence and attended a football match with the second First Vice President.
Amid persistent reports of military escalation in southern Sudan, Silva Kiir the First Vice President and the chairman of the SPLM met Thursday in his residence in Khartoum with Gen. Abdel-Rahim Mohamed Hussein the minister of defense.
During the meeting Kiir dismissed reports of growing tensions between the SAF and SPLA in oil rich Heglig region in southern Sudan and assured the Sudanese people that there is no crisis between the two peace partners and described these reports as false.
The pro-ruling National Congress Party (NCP) Akhir-Lahaza newspaper reported on Wednesday that the SPLA had taken control of the Heglig oilfield.
The daily claimed that the SPLA deployed a battalion around the region and cut the road between Khartoum and Heglig by putting over 100 soldiers at the northern entrance of the region.
Gen. Hussein, who hailed the attitude of the first vice-president, vowed that the two sides will never return to war. He further added that the Armed Forces fully adhere to the comprehensive peace agreement.
The Defence minister affirmed the stability of security situations at the oil-production areas, saying that the Joint Integrated Units (JIUs) from the SAF and the SPLA are accomplishing their missions in full coordination.
He further said that reports on an attack on oil areas were “totally untrue and baseless”, pointing out that the SPLM did not detain or attack any people there.
The minister for presidential affairs for the government of South Sudan, Luka Biong Deng, told the reporters that the objective of these meeting is to demonstrate the commitment of the two parties to the CPA and also to show that these is not tension between CPA partners.
On October 11, the SPLM suspended its participation in the government of the National Unity, plunging north-south relations into their worst crisis since the signing of peace accords in January 2005.
Accompanied by the second vice-president, Ali Osman Mohamed Taha, Kiir also attended a soccer football match between the Sudanese club Al- Merrikh and the Moroccan al-Raja. The top officials exchanged smiles and cordial talks during the match.
Salva Kiir arrived to Khartoum yesterday from Rumbek.