Khartoum Accuses Washington of Fanning War in Sudan
Sudan has accused the United States of fanning the flames of the civil war in south Sudan by supporting and assisting the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA).
The US "openly sides with the rebel movement and offers it political and military assistance", Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail said in remarks published Sunday by the independent Sahafi Dawli newspaper.
Ismail also picked on US accusations that Khartoum is continuing to bomb civilian targets in southern Sudan as part of its 17-year-old civil war with the rebels.
"The American administration repeats allegations by the rebel movement without bothering to verify them," Ismail said in response to the accusations made by US State Department spokesman Philip Reeker on Friday.
The foreign minister said US support for the SPLA was a factor contributing to the continued fighting between the government and SPLA forces.
"The US provides one of the main reasons behind the suffering of the people in the south, the continuation of fighting and aggravation of the humanitarian situation by encouraging the rebel (SPLA) leader John Garang to reject the proposed peace initiatives," Ismail said.
He ridiculed Reeker saying that he "has become an official spokesman for the rebel movement, repeating what it says without verification".
Ismail denied bombing civilian targets saying, "it is not part of the government policy," but accused the SPLA of using humanitarian relief sites as "shields of protection."
"It is legitimate to target the military bases of the rebel movement," he said, charging that relief sites "have become venues of planning for attacking and occupying more (government-held) towns."
He has dismissed as untrue an allegation that the government targets relief workers in south Sudan, arguing that "not a single relief worker has ever been killed or wounded by the government while the rebel movement's record is full of murdering, abducting and beating operations of the relief workers."
Ismail renewed his government's pledge to protect United Nations staff and planes that operate on permits inside Sudan and to refrain from bombing civilian targets – KHARTOUM (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)