Khartoum: Sudan President Omar al-Bashir has said the disputed border region of Abyei is a source of potential conflict with newly independent South Sudan. Abyei remains part of northern Sudan and the protocols governing it must be respected, Mr Bashir told the a British television a day after South Sudan’s independence.He spoke of his sadness over the division of his country, but said it was a price worth paying for peace.
The South struggled to break away for decades at a cost of 1.5 million lives.
President Bashir said he would have preferred to preserve the unity of Sudan, in an interview on the day after South Sudan gained independence.
But the will of the people in the south had to be respected to avoid a return to armed conflict, he conceded.
Asked about potential sources of friction in the future, Mr Bashir pointed to Abyei, a border area claimed by both north and south.
Fighting in Abyei and another border region, South Kordofan, forced some 170,000 people to flee their homes in the run-up to southern independence.
Both sides agreed to withdraw their troops, leaving a 20km (12-mile) buffer zone along the border, in a deal brokered last month.
The agreement is not easy to implement, because parts of the border are still contested and have not been demarcated.
In a clear warning to the south, Mr Bashir said there could be renewed hostilities if agreements on disputed areas such as Abyei were not respected.