Africa

Sudanese leaders Bashir and Kiir sign oil and trade deals

  • 27 September 2012
  • From the section Africa
Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir, left, and South Sudan counterpart Salva Kiir, right. 23 Sept 2012
Omar al-Bashir (L) called Salva Kiir (R) his "partner in peace"

The leaders of Sudan and South Sudan have agreed deals on trade, oil and security, easing tensions that brought them to the brink of war in April.

Omar al-Bashir and Southern counterpart Salva Kiir signed the accords after days of talks in Ethiopia's capital.

They agreed to set up a demilitarised buffer zone and concluded other deals which should lead oil sales to resume.

But the sides have not thrashed out border issues including the flashpoint region of Abyei that they both claim.

South Sudan, where people chiefly follow the Christian faith or traditional indigenous religions, gained independence last year after more than two decades of civil war with the mainly Muslim north.

Mr Kiir said the agreements signed on Thursday brought to an end the long conflict and hailed a "great day in the history of the region".

Mr Bashir described his Southern counterpart as a "partner in peace" and hinted that there would be talks to open the border.

But the two sides failed to agree on Abyei, which lies on their border and is inhabited by both nomadic herdsmen who are loyal to Sudan and other groups who are closely linked to the South.

And few details have been released about the agreement the two sides made regarding oil.

African Union official Barney Afako told reporters only that the deal would start oil flowing again and boost their economies.

"We have already started the preparations... I believe by the end of the year, the oil will flow," South Sudan's chief negotiator Pagan Amum told the Reuters news agency.

But outstanding issues are thought to remain, including Sudan's demand of compensation after the South nationalised the former country's oil company.

At independence in July 2011, South Sudan acquired two-thirds of the former Sudan's oil but Khartoum retained the processing and export facilities.

A row over how much the South should pay Sudan in transit fees led to the South shutting down production in January this year.

The two countries' economies have been seriously damaged as a result - oil accounts for some 98% of South Sudan's budget.