After weeks of back-and-forth violence, Sudan declared a state of emergency along its border with South Sudan on Sunday, renewing fear that the two nations are again headed towards war.
Omar al-Bashir's presidential decree was imposed upon along the Sudanese states of South Kordofan, White Nile and Sennar. With the official declaration comes special presidential powers, and the state of emergency allows Bashir's government to arrest any criminal or terror suspects and try them in special tribunals, according to the Sudan Vision Daily.
The decree also suspends certain laws concerning custom issues, which is especially significant since Sudan arrested a number of foreign spies in the oil-rich Heglig region on Saturday. The accused say there are employees of a humanitarian organization that is de-mining the area, the Associated Press reported.
Sudanese authorities have also ordered that 12,000 ethnic South Sudanese people leave the country within a week. There are around 500,000 ethnic southerners in the north, but with violence now escalating there is fear that the civil wars that sent these people to the north could be repeated.
The Russian Foreign Minister said on Monday that he has heard from our Sudanese colleagues who say they are ready to end the conflict.
They are ready immediately to start talks, provided that South Sudan also responds to this,” Sergey Lavrov said, according to RIA Novosti.
However, continued attacks on the south belie Khartoum's talk of peace. South Sudan army spokesman Philip Aguer told AFP that Sudanese warplanes again bombed the border town of Panakuach while northern militias have engaged southern soldiers. Although the African Union has ordered Sudan to cease such hostilities, violence continues, and Sudanese airstrikes against civilians in rebel held areas in the Nuba Mountains -- which are within Sudanese territory -- were reported as well.
Also reportedly operating in the border region is Joseph Kony and his Lord's Resistance Army. The Ugandan warlord, who is currently on the run from an international indictment, is believed to be in the western Bahr-el-Ghazal region, where South Sudan meets Sudan and the Central African Republic.
Uganda, which is leading an African Union manhunt to find Kony, claims that the Sudanese government is harboring and possibly arming the fugitive, perhaps to help fight southern and Darfuri rebels, according to the Associated Press. Outraged by the reports, Uganda says it will support South Sudan if war breaks out.