KHARTOUM — Sudan declared a state of emergency along its border with South Sudan yesterday after month-long border clashes, as four foreigners allegedly arrested in the Heglig oil region remained in custody.
President Omar Hassan al Bashir issued a resolution declaring the emergency in the border states of South Kordofan, White Nile and Sennar, the official Suna news agency said. The measure suspends the constitution and imposes a trade embargo against the South.
Other parts of the border were already under a state of emergency.
Commerce across the frontier has unofficially been banned since South Sudan’s independence last July, but the emergency formalises that prohibition.
Bashir’s resolution “gives the right to the president and anyone with his mandate” to establish special courts, in consultation with the chief justice, Suna said.
The courts will handle criminal and “terrorist” cases, it added.
Nationalist feeling has intensified in Sudan after South Sudan occupied the north’s main Heglig oil field for 10 days, a move which coincided with Sudanese air strikes against the South.
It was the most serious fighting since the South’s independence and raised fears of a wider war.
Sudan declared on April 20 that its troops had forced the Southern soldiers out of Heglig, but the South said it withdrew of its own accord in line with international calls.
During the Heglig occupation, Bashir threatened to overthrow South Sudan’s “insect” government.
Norway’s ambassador expressed concern yesterday that he and other diplomats had not been able to meet the four foreigners detained by Sudan’s army along the tense southern border.
“We have still got no access,” Jens-Petter Kjemprud said, adding that Norway was in close touch with South African and British officials over the four.
Sudan’s army said on Saturday it arrested them in Heglig as they collected “war debris for investigation.”
Kjemprud said repeated requests had been made for access to the captives. “We are concerned and would like to see these citizens as soon as possible,” the ambassador said.
Jan Ledang, country director for the Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) mission in South Sudan, identified one of them as its employee John Sorbo.