Sudanese govt., main rebel group agree on oil revenue shares

Dec 20, 2003 (Xinhua)

The Sudanese government and the main rebel group has agreed in principle on oil revenue shares, one of three major outstanding issues in the peace talks between the two sides, a Kenyan chief mediator confirmed here Saturday.

Lazarus Sumbeiywo, Kenyan special envoy for peace in the Sudan and chief mediator, told Xinhua that both sides reached an agreement "in principle" on oil revenue shares late Friday night, paving the way for a comprehensive peace accord.

Meanwhile, the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) spokesman Samson Kwaje said here Saturday evening that both parties of the peace talks are closing to a final agreement on oil revenue shares.

"We have not set a deal, but we are closing to it. Right now we are working on the details," Kwaje said. "It is hopeful we will sign the deal by 3 o'clock Sunday afternoon."

The Sudan currently produces around 300,000 barrels of oil a day, accounting for 43 percent of government revenue.

The Sudanese civil war started as the SPLA took up arms fighting for self-determination in the southern part of the country in 1983. The conflict has left some two million people dead, mostly through war-induced famine and disease.

The Sudanese government and the SPLA began peace talks last July in Kenya, aimed at ending the longest civil war on the African continent, under the auspices of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a seven-member regional group in east Africa, consisting of Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Uganda, Eritrea, Tanzania and the Sudan.

During this round of talks held in the Kenyan town of Naivasha, about 80 km northwest of Nairobi, capital of Kenya, the parties are expected to agree on the contentious issue of sharing of the revenue from the oil deposits in the south. Other issues to feature include the status of the three areas, Abyei, Blue Nile state and the Nuba Mountains.

Kenya is the current chairman of the IGAD ministerial sub- committee on the Sudan.