Sudanese wealth deal on track

The government of Sudan and the main rebel group are expected to sign a wealth sharing agreement, clearing one of the key hurdles to ending the 20 year conflict.

    SPLA leader John Garang is attending talks in Kenya

    The government of Kenya is hosting talks between the government and the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) aimed at securing a wealth deal on Sunday, as part of a wider peace plan.

    "They are close to signing an agreement on wealth sharing, hopefully I will be there to witness the signing tomorrow afternoon," Kenya's Foreign Affairs Minister Kalonzo Musyoka told reporters on Saturday. 

    A rebel official said on Friday that the negotiations had been stuck on the key issue of sharing oil revenues with the
    government willing to only share 17% of the profits from oil sales to the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA). The SPLA is insisting on a 60% share of profits.

    Oil wealth

    Two years of talks between the northern government and southern SPLA rebels have lead to some issues being resolved and the talks moving on. However the sharing of Sudan's oil wealth has been one of the major stumbling blocks to any comprehensive agreement.
    "We are very lose to agreeing on percentages but I cannot talk about the details now," said rebel spokesman Samson Kwaje, adding that he expected a wealth-sharing deal to be signed on Sunday. No government spokesperson was available for comment.

    Sudans vice-president Ali Osman
    and Garang  at earlier peace talks

    The main outstanding issues are sharing wealth, dividing power, and the status of three contested areas. The US has been putting pressure on both sides to get a final deal covering all issues by the end of the year, even if it is only a framework accord.

    Despite the hopeful signs for the country from talks with the SPLA, Sudanese newspapers reported on Thursday that officials in the western Darfur region imposed a curfew after separate peace talks between the Khartoum government and one of two rebel groups in that region collapsed.   

    Peace talks

    Peace talks between the government and SPLA began in early 2002. They have already agreed on splitting state and religion, forming a postwar army and letting the south hold a referendum on independence after an interim period.

    Talks with the Sudan Liberation Army, which signed a truce in September, failed this week with both sides blaming each other. A second group in Darfur, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), has not signed a truce or begun talks with Khartoum.

    The Sudanese civil war has killed an estimated two million people and left a further four million people homeless, since violence broke out in 1983. 

    SOURCE: Reuters


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