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A U.N. Security Council resolution gives the two Sudans until tomorrow to stop fighting over their oil-rich border. Otherwise, they could face sanctions. Once the fighting stops they'll have two weeks to begin negotiating a way out of their various disputes. The U.N.'s decision endorses an African Union plan that it hopes will avert a return to war between Sudan and newly-independent South Sudan.
From the South's capital, Juba, NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports.
(SOUNDBITE OF CHANTING PROTESTERS)
OFEIBEA QUIST-ARCTON, BYLINE: About two hundred South Sudanese march through the streets of Juba in a rally organized by Christian church leaders. They chant for peace and against war and also chant anti-Sudan slogans, as they unfurl huge banners condemning their northern neighbor across the border.
(SOUNDBITE OF CHANTING PROTESTERS)
QUIST-ARCTON: Heglig is the main strategic oilfield in Sudan that the southern army captured last month. South Sudan said it moved to stop deadly Sudanese air strikes targeting positions in the South. South Sudan agreed to withdraw its forces after international condemnation of the occupation of Heglig.
Prophet Abraham Chol is one of the rally organizers.
ABRAHAM CHOL: We are not agreed for the international community to decide against us. This is unjustice decision.
QUIST-ARCTON: It's been seven years since the end of the long civil war between the North and South, and less than a year since South Sudan declared independence and split from Sudan. That landmark was supposed to herald a new era of peace, good neighborliness and cooperation. But many feel that critical, unresolved quarrels over oil, un-demarcated borders, citizenship, and much more have led the two Sudans back to the brink of war.
GLORIA EMMANUEL: As a nation we cannot fight. We have just come out from fighting. Independence is forever. No war, no fighting, no bloodshed again.
QUIST-ARCTON: Student marcher, Gloria Emmanuel, speaks for many South Sudanese - most of whom claim Sudan and its president, Omar Hassan Al Bashir, have declared war on them.
The South has shut down all crude oil production, accusing Sudan of charging outrageous fees for use of its pipeline and confiscating cargoes of crude oil.
EMMANUEL: Al Bashir is just a criminal. He is just taking our petrol. He's taking our oil. He's taking our land by force. This my land. It's my territory. I will fight until I get my rights.
QUIST-ARCTON: The Christian peace marchers carried a petition to foreign diplomatic missions around Juba. First stop, the U.S. embassy and an introduction by Pastor Paul Deng Joshua Lake.
REVEREND PAUL DENG JOSHUA LAKE: Your Excellency, we are here at the American embassy concerning the crisis that are taking place in our countries...
QUIST-ARCTON: The U.S. deputy chief of mission, Christopher Datta, emerges to talk to the marchers.
CHRISTOPHER DATTA: The United States congratulates the patience and the commitment to peace that the people of South Sudan have demonstrated. We understand your frustrations and we sympathize with it. And we will work very hard to try to find peace...
QUIST-ARCTON: The African Union and the U.N. Security Council warn that both sides must quit fighting, stop the bellicose rhetoric and return to the negotiating table now. South Sudan says it is ready. Sudan's president, too, has indicated that he's prepared to comply and talk peace with the South's leaders, who just recently he called insects that must be crushed.
Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, NPR News, Juba.
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