Pipeline intrigues behind South Sudan fighting

At least 163 were reported dead March 28 in clashes at Okello, in Pibor county of South Sudan's Jonglei state, pitting government troops against a rebel force whose commander David Yau Yau is said to be among the slain. (See map.) South Sudan accuses Khartoum of supporting the rebels, with military spokesman Col. Philip Aguer saying a seized airstrip was used for arms drops. He suggested Sudan is arming the rebellion in a bid to block the South's plans to build an oil pipeline through Ethiopia to a port in Djibouti. Aguer said the South's military, the SPLA, would continue to "deal with the militia group." (The Guardian, March 28) A Kenyan route for the pipeline has also been broached, with the aim of freeing the South from having to export oil through Khartoum's territory.

The fighting comes just as Sudan and South Sudan have reached a deal over passage of the South's oil through the north's territory. South Sudan's first oil exports are slated to reach Sudan in mid-April, according to Sudan's state news agency SUNA. South Sudan's oil minister said on March 14 oil firms in the South had been ordered to restart production, which he said would take two to three weeks. South Sudan was producing about 350,000 barrels per day before it shut down its oil output because of the dispute with Khartoum. (VOA, March 27)

Participants in a women's peace conference in Jonglei state announced they would leave their homes and refrain from child bearing if men in their communities continued to seek violent solutions to ongoing conflicts in the region. They also demanded that women be given greater involvement in peace talks and political decision-making processes. The demands were made in a communique to the Jonglei state government following an event organized by the Jonglei Women's Association. (Sudan Tribune via AllAfrica, March 27)

The move recalls the recent sex strike by Colombian women.