Sudanese government reaches agreement with oil-rich southern Sudan

Oct 10, 2002 02:00 AM

After 46 years of devastating civil wars, military coups and political, security and economic instability, the Sudanese government reached a comprehensive agreement with oil-rich southern Sudan -- allowing southerners to opt for secession six years after an agreement is reached. On Aug. 26, Sudan's President Omar Hassan Al Bashir said that peace would be concluded in mid-September due to the efforts of African and Western countries especially the United States.

The deal, brokered by the Africa's Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) on July 20, was under US patronage and overseen by US special envoy for peace in Sudan John Danforth. Danforth presided over rounds of talks held in the Kenyan town of Machakos near Nairobi, between Bashir's delegation and the delegation of John Garang's Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA).
Aimed at filling in gaps from previous deals, the negotiations addressed key issues such as power sharing, wealth sharing, transitional measures, security matters and international guarantees. From the first day of negotiations, optimism prevailed that an agreement would put an end to the civil war in southern Sudan.

All Sudanese opposition political parties, which are under the umbrella organisation, The National Democratic Alliance, agreed to take part in drawing a comprehensive solution to the Sudanese problem. They participated in negotiations on a large scale to ensure permanent peace and a democratic system based on political plurality in northern and southern Sudan in a bid to preserve the unity of the country.
Significantly, the main opposition party, The Sudanese People's Party Congress, lead by Hassan Al Turabi did not take part in negotiations. Eritrea offered to arrange a meeting between the ruling National Congress Party and Turabi's party to allow the participation of the latter in negotiations so that peace talks gather all Sudanese parties. According to reports, the US warned the Sudanese government not to hold any negotiations outside the framework of IGAD.

Rounds of talks between government and rebels' delegates have shown some progress. But the parties still remain at odds on the issue of oil revenues sharing. The SPLA has asked for a minimum of 60 % of oil exports' revenues with the rest going to the government.
However, Bashir refused this proposal and asked that oil revenues be shared according to the number of residents, funds invested in oil drilling and even according to land surface, on the grounds that oil was not only present in the south, but in most areas.

A well-informed source told that a closed meeting was recently held in London where it was agreed that 30 % of oil revenues be given to the South, 30 % to the North, 30 % to the central government with 10 % for reserve and development. The source said Danforth addressed a letter to US President George W. Bush saying that oil reserves in Sudan exceeded 4 bn barrels and that permanent peace could not be achieved unless the issue of oil was solved.
According to the source, Danforth said that any agreement on that issue would require a reliable process under international supervision guaranteeing a fair distribution of oil revenues.

Source: EastWestRecord
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