Page last updated at 12:10 GMT, Thursday, 18 June 2009 13:10 UK

South Sudan leader on war footing

Sudanese Vice-President Salva Kiir (In Nairobi, 17 July 2006)
Salva Kiir warned if war was imposed on the south, it would be ready

The leader of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, has warned his armed forces are being re-organised so they are prepared for any return to war with the north.

Mr Kiir, who is vice-president of Sudan, said he would not be the one to take the country back to war.

But if it was imposed on the south, they would be ready, he added.

His sabre-rattling remarks follow this week's claims the Khartoum government was supplying arms to ethnic groups in the south to destabilise the region.

A 22-year war between the mainly Muslim north and the Christian and animist south ended in 2005, after 1.5 million people died.

Allegations fly

Under the 2005 peace deal the former rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) formed a power-sharing government with President Omar al-Bashir's National Congress Party in Khartoum.


Relations between the former foes remain tense, with a referendum on whether the south should secede due in 2011.

Earlier this week, the SPLM Secretary General, Pagan Amum, accused Khartoum of distributing arms in the south ahead of the plebiscite on formally splitting from the north.

The allegations flew after 27 river barges were looted near the town of Nasir last Sunday by gunmen who wanted to stop food supplies reaching a rival ethnic group.

But the Khartoum government's Strategic Planning Minister, Tajussir Mahjoub, said no "sane government" would do that, denying knowledge of the source of weapons.

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