Sudan leader threatens to ‘liberate’ southern foe

Sudan’s president Omar Hassan al-Bashir has vowed to “liberate” South Sudan from its ruling party, a sharp escalation of rhetoric after border clashes that edged the East African neighbours closer to all-out war.

South Sudan – which broke away in July – seized the contested oil-producing Heglig region last week, prompting Sudan’s parliament to call for a swift recapture of the savanna region.

In a fiery speech to his National Congress Party yesterday, Mr al-Bashir referred to the South’s ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) as “insects,” a play on their Arabic name.

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“Our main goal is liberation of the southern citizens from the SPLM,” he said. “This is our responsibility before the Southern people.”

He went on to predict “good news” from Heglig within hours but suggested tensions would not end until the South’s ruling party collapsed. “The story began in Heglig, but it will end in Khartoum or Juba,” he said, referring to the two capitals.

Earlier on Wednesday, Sudan and South Sudan accused one another of launching attacks on a new front. South Sudan’s army said a total of 22 soldiers died in the fighting.