[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Great Lakes
Last Updated: Saturday, 20 December, 2003, 17:31 GMT
Breakthrough in Sudan peace talks
Chief negotiators: from left, SPLA's John Garang, Sudan's Vice President Ali Osman Mohammed Taha and Kenyan Foreign Minister Kolonzo Musyoka at peace talks in Kenya
Leaders are expected to clinch a deal soon
Sudan's peace talks have taken a major step forward with an agreement between the government and the main rebel group to share oil resources.

The deal, reached in Kenya, paves the way for a comprehensive peace accord.

At the moment, the government controls all the country's oil revenues, but the SPLA rebels have demanded a share.

A final peace settlement is expected to be reached soon to end 20 years of civil war in Sudan that have left about two million people dead.

Fighting over percentages

Vice President Ali Osman Taha and Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) leader John Garang have been trying to hammer out a final peace deal at talks in Nairobi.

The division of oil resources had been one of the biggest sticking-points in the peace negotiations, between the rebel-controlled, Christian and animist south and the Muslim north.

There has been no word from either side yet on what the details of this agreement are, but both have indicated they will sign a deal on Sunday or Monday.

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund had tried to steer discussions on oil sharing away from percentage distributions to focus discussions on the financial needs of each side.

Sudanese oil installation
Oil generated 42% of government revenue in 2001
But the SPLA had rejected that proposal and insisted talks must be conducted in terms of a flat percentage distribution between north and south.

A document put forward earlier this year by the mediators proposed that oil revenues from the south should be divided almost equally, but on Friday the two sides were still a long way apart, says the BBC's Christian Fraser in Nairobi.

At that time the government was only prepared to give 17%, the SPLA was demanding over half.

The other outstanding issue on wealth-sharing stemmed from the SPLA's demands for the creation of petroleum commissions, which would enable them to enter into new oil contracts in areas under their control.

But the deal could well push forward talks on other outstanding issues, particularly on three contested areas in the middle of the country where there are oil deposits, our correspondent says.

The SPLA said they expected the final sticking-points to be resolved when the two sides meet again in the New Year, raising hopes that a final and comprehensive peace agreement will soon be signed, he says.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific