From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Wed Feb 18 2009 - 16:21:29 EST
Sudan accused of delaying north-south border deal
Wed Feb 18, 2009 2:27pm EST
By Skye Wheeler
JUBA, Sudan Feb 18 (Reuters) - South Sudanese officials accused Khartoum on
Wednesday of delaying a key decision over the position of the country's
north-south border in a bid to keep troops in sensitive oil-producing areas.
The position of the border is one of the most important and explosive issues
left unresolved in a 2005 peace deal that ended more than two decades of
north-south civil war.
South Sudan's army minister Nhial Deng Nhial told Reuters northern troops
had used uncertainty over demarcation to stay in southern areas, which they
should have left under the accord.
"The work of the border committee is being deliberately delayed to permit
(northern) forces to remain in areas in the south," he said, referring to
the official body with equal north-south membership tasked with deciding on
"They feel that these oil field areas are part of the north. That is their
justification for their presence."
The chairman of the border committee Abdulla al Sadiq, a northerner, said
the accusations were "foolish" as the committee had only technical and not
Sadiq said 40 percent of the border had been delineated by his committee and
only small differences within the group were delaying a final presentation
to Sudan's president and vice-presidents that he hoped would occur in two
The 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement called for a total redeployment of
northern and southern troops either side of the border which, according to
the original accord timetable, should have been decided by July 2005.
CONTESTED OIL REGION
North and south Sudanese forces have clashed since the accord was signed,
most recently over the contested oil area of Abyei. Analysts say the deal
will come under greater pressure in coming months before elections and a
referendum on southern secession, both promised in the agreement.
The spokesman for the south's dominant Sudan People's Liberation Movement
(SPLM) Yien Matthew told Reuters Khartoum had delayed handing out the
committee's budget and persuaded northern members to hold up business.
"The NCP (the north's dominant National Congress Party) is interested only
in oil," he said. "They also want to give the message to the SPLM that they
are ready to fight."
A senior member of the south's army who requested anonymity told Reuters
northern troops were deployed in at least five places south of the border.
In another key area of the north-south peace deal, U.N. officials this week
said donors had pledged $88.3 million to fund the demobilisation of north
and south Sudanese soldiers.
The cash, pooled from donations from the European Union and the governments
of Britain, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Japan and Italy, was enough to
keep the project running for a year, said officials.
But it is still far short of the $385 million needed for the whole
U.N.-backed scheme, designed to ease 180,000 soldiers back into civilian
life with cash handouts and training.
The north-south conflict, Africa's longest civil war, claimed 2 million
lives and forced more than 4 million to flee their homes. The troubled 2005
peace deal created a semi-autonomous government in the south, allowing it to
keep its own army and shared out the country's oil wealth. (Editing by
Andrew Heavens and Charles Dick)
C Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved
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