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Sudan 'won't give an inch of country'

19 April 2012, 13:57

Khartoum - Sudan's Omar al-Bashir on Thursday said he would retake the disputed oil-producing Heglig region after border clashes with South Sudan that have edged the two African neighbours closer to all-out war.

Global powers have voiced alarm over the worst violence seen since South Sudan seceded last July under the terms of a 2005 peace settlement, and have urged the two to stop fighting and return to talks.

South Sudan seized Heglig last week, claiming it as its rightful territory and saying it would only withdraw if the United Nations deployed a neutral force there.

The tensions prompted Bashir to say he would "liberate" South Sudan from its rulers, a sharp escalation in rhetoric that suggested tensions would not end until the South's SPLM was toppled.

In a speech on Thursday, the Sudanese leader, dressed in military uniform, told thousands of supporters in the Sudanese state of North Kordofan: "Heglig is in Kordofan."

"We will not give them an inch of our country, and whoever extends his hand on Sudan, we will cut it," Bashir told the rally in El-Obeid, the state capital.

"These people don't understand, and we will give them the final lesson by force," he said in the speech broadcast on state television, dancing and waving his walking stick. "Heglig is not the end, but the beginning."

There was no immediate comment from the South.

Distrust runs deep between the neighbours, who are at loggerheads 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.

About two million people died in Sudan's civil war, fought for all but a few years from 1955 to 2005 over disputes of religion, ideology, ethnicity and religion.

- Reuters


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