Wealth-sharing deal to give southern Sudan economic independence

Jan 08, 2004 01:00 AM

The government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) signed an agreement on wealth sharing that will give southern Sudan significant economic independence during a six-year interim period.
"For the first time the government will be self-reliant in the south and will have the resources and wealth for development and providing basic services," said Yasir Arman, SPLM/A spokesman. "We will have a meaningful autonomy for the south supported by resources."

Speaking of "a paradigm shift", SPLM/A Chairman John Garang said for the first time the south would have much needed resources to provide services and engage in poverty eradication. "It will lead to a democratic and structural transformation of Sudan," he said.
Under the agreement, the southern government is to retain half of its oil and non-oil revenue and give the other half to the Khartoum-based central government during the interim period, at the end of which a referendum is to be held to determine whether or not the south remains part of Sudan. Each oil-producing state is to receive 2 % of net oil wealth, while a National Petroleum Commission, with representatives from both sides, will be established to manage the oil sector.

The agreement provides a number of guarantees to the south and other war-affected or marginalized areas of Sudan. It says that "all parts of Sudan are entitled to development" and that the national government "shall not withhold an allocation due to a state/region or the government of Southern Sudan". Underdeveloped areas are to be "brought up to the same average level of socio-economic and public services standard as the Northern States".
"Persons whose rights have been violated by oil contracts are entitled to compensation," says the document, and communities where oil development is taking place "have the right to participate through their respective states/regions in the negotiation of contracts for the development of these resources". Existing oil contracts are to be respected.

Two separate bodies, an independent Southern Sudan Land Commission and a National Commission are to arbitrate land disputes, and to decide on appropriate compensation for claimants who are allowed to make claims against "the relevant government and/or parties interested in the land".
A dual banking system is to be established, with an Islamic system in the north -- which is not allowed to charge interest -- and a western system in the south, while a new national currency is to be introduced. Arman welcomed the agreement but added that in the interest of national unity "Southern Sudan should also get wealth from the north".
He said "we could have better encouraged unity if the south was being given wealth from the north". Sudanese Vice-President Ali Osman Taha called upon the international community to "actively participate with us in the reconstruction of Sudan and in rebuilding what has been destroyed by two decades of war".

A donor conference, to be hosted by Norway, is to be held within two or three months after the signing of a comprehensive agreement, said Hilde Johnson, Norwegian development minister. Talks are to continue with the status of Abyei, the Nuba mountains and southern Blue Nile first on the agenda. The SPLM/A is insisting on the right to self-determination in the Nuba mountains and southern Blue Nile, while Abyei -- currently part of western Kordofan in northern Sudan -- should become part of the south, said Arman.
Under the colonial borders drawn up in 1956, all three areas in central Sudan found themselves under the control of northern-dominated administrations. Currently controlled by both the government and the SPLM/A they have regularly been attacked by northern militias, denied humanitarian aid and have experienced systematic marginalisation and discrimination, according to political analysts. It is hoped that a comprehensive agreement will be reached by the end of January.

Source: UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
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