VENTURES AFRICA —South Sudan and Sudan would speedily implement deals to demilitarise their borders, it was announced at the weekend.
The presidents of the two countries also agreed to allow oil exports to flow from South Sudan’s oil fields north through Sudan’s pipelines, it emerged at the weekend.
Sudan President Omar al-Bashir and South Sudan President Salva Kiir met on Friday and Saturday in Ethiopia’s capital to revive a stalled oil-exportation deal that has been delayed for months over disputes on the setup of security arrangements in the border regions.
Associated Press reports that African Union (AU) mediator, the former SA president Thabo Mbeki, told reporters on Saturday afternoon that the two presidents agreed to the “speedy, unconditional and coordinated” implementation of the agreements.
“We are very, very pleased indeed with the outcome of this because it has indeed opened the way for the implementation of all of these various agreements,” Mbeki was quoted as saying.
“They have also agreed that action should be taken immediately, as soon as possible, to implement all the existing agreements unconditionally.”
AU mediators will present officials of the two sides with a timetable for oil exports and the withdrawal of military forces from border areas.
The schedule will be ready by January 13 this year, Mbeki said.
“The presidents agreed that steps should be taken without any further delay to demarcate those parts of the border which have been agreed,” he said.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn hailed the two leaders’ agreements. Hailemariam last week went to both capitals to help move the process forward.
Sudan and South Sudan have been engaged in conflict for so long that after South Sudan was granted its independence in 2011, the two sides seemed unable to resolve the many disputes that come with sharing a 1.200-mile border — particularly when South Sudan needs the cooperation of Sudan to transport its oil shipments to the Red Sea.
Skirmishes between the two countries have been so bad that South Sudan shut down its 350.000 barrels-a-day oil production a year ago — even though oil accounts for 98 percent of its GDP. The shutdown forced the government, which provides only a bare minimum of services to South Sudan citizens, to virtually stop paying its civil servants.
The ceasing of oil production in South Sudan also caused a drastic reduction in the income of Sudan, which lost three-quarters of the nation’s income when South Sudan seceded.
The dispute centered around how much South Sudan should pay to export crude through pipelines in Sudanese territory to a Red Sea port, and South Sudan’s accusation that Sudan stole $815 million of its oil.
Sudan doesn’t deny the accusation, but says it took the crude to recoup unpaid transportation and processing fees.
Image via Reuters