Sudan and South Sudan sign landmark deal

Agreements covering border and oil issues will pave way for South to resume sale of its oil using North’s pipeline.

Sudan and South Sudan have signed a raft of agreements in a deal that paves the way for the South to resume sale of its oil using the North’s pipelines.

The agreements, coming days after marathon negotiations between President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan and his Southern counterpart, Salva Kiir, were signed on Thursday in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

The pacts centre on nine key areas, including a demilitarised buffer zone and oil production. But the two sides made no progress on disputed Abyei, which straddles South Sudan and Sudan, as well as oil-rich Heglig over which they clashed in April.

 Border security deal will restart badly needed oil exports for both countries
 South Sudan relies on oil for 98 per cent of its income and uses the North’s pipelines to export
 Oil exports were halted in January over high transit fees demanded by Sudan
 No agreement yet on the disputed Abyei border region 
 A demilitarised buffer zone at the will be set up 

The agreement on the demilitarised border buffer zone will see troops withdrawing 10km from the de facto line of control along the un-demarcated frontier.

Al Jazeera’s Harriet Martin, reporting from Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, called the agreements a “partial deal” and that they followed a UN Security Council demand in May that the two sides resolve the dispute.

“The issues are wide ranging: They cover economics, they cover trade and they cover, most importantly, oil – turning oil back on,” she said.

“Both sides desperately need the cash, particularly South Sudan. But they [agreements] also apparently cover some of the border issues. Security at the border was one of the key issues that the Sudanese government was very keen to get sorted.”

Kiir in a press conference welcomed the breakthrough, saying:” Today is a great day in the history of our region, and in particular Sudan and South Sudan, as we witness the signing of the cooperation agreement that brings to an end the long conflict between our two countries.”

Kiir said his country will pursue the peace agreement at all costs with regional partners and various organisations.

South Sudan relies on oil for 98 per cent of its income and stopped exports in January after a dispute with Sudan because there was no agreement over transit fees, said our correspondent.

Though both sides reached a deal on the resumption of oil exports, they failed to agree on a series of border zones claimed by the two countries.

“The two countries failed to reach an agreement on two issues: Abyei… [and] the second issue is that of the border,” Atif Kiir, a South Sudan delegation spokesman, told reporters after the talks ended late on Wednesday.

“The two countries have agreed to have another round of talks… mainly on the issue of the border, on the disputed and unclaimed areas.”

His counterpart Badr el-din Abdullah said that the issues would be addressed in the future.

Differences ‘overcome’

“We have overcome many differences… but here are some differences on Abyei,” he said, adding that resolving border areas claimed by both sides “is going to take time”.

No dates were given for a potential further round of talks.

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Amid international pressure on both sides to reach a deal, after missing a UN Security Council deadline to settle by last Saturday, their teams spent days trying to narrow positions as mediators shuttled between them.

The protracted talks under African Union mediation began in the Ethiopian capital several months before South Sudan split in July 2011 from what was Africa’s biggest nation, following a referendum after decades of war.

Meanwhile, a Sudanese warplane droppped six bombs on a market in southern Kordofan on Thursday, killing one person and injuring six others, Ryan Boyette, CEO of Nuba Reports, a community online news service, told Al Jazeera.

Boyette said the person killed was a woman and that she had seven children, the youngest four months old.

The bombs were dropped by a Russian-built Antanov, he said.

“What makes this bombing unique is that it occurred during the market day – it is market day on Thursdays – and people from surrounding villages come [here] to trade,” he said.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies