South Sudan Announces Heglig Withdrawal
Reading a statement from South Sudan President Salva Kiir, government spokesman Barnaba Marial Benjamin announced the pullout of South Sudan‘s army — the SPLA — from the Heglig area on Friday.
Called Panthou by South Sudan, the Heglig oil field produces half of Sudan’s oil, and the international community has repeatedly called for South Sudan to withdraw as war rhetoric from Sudan has mounted.
“In conformity with the U.N. Security Council presidential statement, and in response to appeals by world leaders and to create an environment for the resumption of dialogue with Sudan, the Republic of South Sudan announces that SPLA troops have been ordered to withdraw from Panthou-Heglig,” said Benjamin. “An orderly withdrawal will commence immediately and shall be completed within three days.”
But Benjamin said that South Sudan’s pullout did not mean it had given up its claims to Heglig or other contested areas along the oil-rich border that has yet to be defined following southern independence in July.
PHOTO: Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, center, waves from the back of a truck during a visit to North Kordofan, Sudan, Thursday, April 19, 2012. (AP Photo/Abd Raouf)