South Sudan 'worst case scenario' as rebels take control of oil fields
FIGHTING in South Sudan appeared to be heading for a "worst case scenario" yesterday with anti-government forces in South Sudan threatening to seize the country's oil supplies.
Rebel troops under the command of the former vice-president, Riek Machar, said they had taken control of the federal state where most of the oil fields lie.
Diplomats said yesterday that the oil flows had so far been unaffected, but several international petroleum companies have pulled their staff out of the region.
There is now a risk that the facilities could fall to the rebels, which would plunge the world's newest nation into an even more serious situation because Mr Machar would effectively be able to hold the government he is fighting to ransom.
South Sudan depends on oil sales for 98pc of its revenue. There is widespread expectation that Sudan, its neighbour and former civil-war foe to the north, would compound its problems by intervening militarily if its supplies were cut off, as the northern nation is dependent on the same oil fields for its foreign earnings. "That is chief among the worst case scenarios, that Riek takes the oil facilities," said a diplomat in Juba, the capital.
Salva Kiir, South Sudan's president, said he would "sit down" for talks with Mr Machar.
More than 500 people have died and 65,000 have fled their homes since the fighting began eight days ago. (©Daily Telegraph, London)