Clinton: Bashir trying to scuttle Sudan peace deal

February 29, 2012 - 4:25 PM
Clinton State Budget

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012, before the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing "Assessing U.S. foreign policy priorities amidst economic challenges: The Foreign Relations Budget for Fiscal Year 2013". (AP Photo Manuel Balce Ceneta)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday accused Sudan's leader of trying to scuttle a historic peace deal that created the world's newest country last year.

Clinton told a House panel that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir's regime in Khartoum is actively trying to undermine the government of South Sudan and that the Obama administration will look at new ways to build pressure on them to stop. Her comments came in response to a lawmaker's question about reported bombing attacks on refugees fleeing violence in the south and firefights between southern and northern troops.

"I think that what we've got with Bashir is a very determined effort to try to undo the results of the comprehensive peace agreement," Clinton said.

South Sudan was created last year after southern Sudanese voted to secede from Sudan in a referendum required by a 2005 peace agreement that ended the country's long-running civil war. Clinton noted that the people of the South had voted overwhelmingly for independence and lamented that Bashir, after initially embracing the results and attending the inauguration of South Sudan's president, had been involved in "a steady effort to undermine this new state.

"We will certainly look at trying to up the pressure on Khartoum and on Bashir personally," she said.

Earlier this month, South Sudan accused Sudan of bombing a border town, violating a non-aggression agreement between the two nations just hours after it was signed.

That agreement was inked during talks to resolve outstanding provisions of the 2005 peace deal, including the division of the two nations' once-unified oil industry. South Sudan inherited nearly three quarters of Sudan's oil production but its oil must still exported through pipelines through Sudan.

The two countries have been unable to agree on the transport fees the south should pay. In lieu of an agreement, Sudan declared it would take a percentage of the South's oil as in-kind payments prompting the South to accuse Khartoum of stealing its oil and shut down all production in its oil fields, depriving Khartoum of a critical source of income.

The two countries are also far apart on other issues such as the demarcation of the north-south border and the status of the disputed Abyei region.