A peace deal, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, ended Africa’s longest
war in Jan. 2005. Analysts agree that the 21 year conflict between the Islamic
north and largely Christian south was fuelled by reservoirs of oil.
Sudan’s Salva Kiir visits Rumbek, tells army no more war
BENTIU, Sudan, April14 (Gurtong) – Fifty thousand people still cannot return to their home areas of south Sudan’s ‘oil state’ because of a military presence authorities called a ‘complete violation’ of Sudan’s peace agreement on Friday.
As part of the peace agreement northern Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) are supposed to redeploy completely from the south by July 9.
“We don’t think they will go … there are more than they are allowed to be,” said Unity State’s spokesperson and minister for information James Lily Kuol on Friday, “the (national) Sudanese government is violating the CPA”.
Kuol says that it is clear to his government why the northern forces have not been redeployed from his state, which borders north Sudan, as per the peace agreement.
“SAF forces have increased since the signing of the CPA … they are threatening people in this area because of the oil,” he said “the Khartoum government does not want the state government to have responsibility for the oil”.
“Big weapons and even tanks have been brought into the oil areas,” said Kuol who said there were strong suspicions some of the armaments were being stored in oil companies’ compounds.
Members of the United Nations (UN) in Unity State’s capital Bentiu said that the UN peacekeeping force in the area has recently been given permission to look for weapons in the premises of oil companies in the area.
Oil exploration and drilling is undertaken by five companies through the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company, an arrangement formed during the war years through the Khartoum government.
“They are fearing the SAF and the government militias that are heavily armed by the Khartoum government before and now,” said Kuol about the 50,000 people who cannot return to the oil producing areas.
Kuol said recent reports of people being killed in the areas controlled by northern armed forces and north-sponsored militias were acting as a strong disincentive to those wanting to return.
As part of the peace agreement joint integrated units of northern and southern forces were supposed to be formed in all major towns including Bentiu. But Kuol said that these have not formed in Bentiu and both armies are living in separate barracks creating a potential security risk.
“There is fear from the people, what would you feel if there were two armies staying together but taking separate instructions … something can occur,” he said “we don’t want to take Sudan back to war”.
Kuol said that the semi-autonomous southern government should talk further with the Khartoum Government of National Unity to redeploy the SAF army as per the CPA security agreements and renegotiate control over the oil fields.
“They should let the people of Unity State have their own responsibility for the oil areas and let citizens return to the places they were before the war…the Sudanese government and the SAF are the ones controlling the oil fields,” said Kuol.
“We don’t have a say in the oil areas,” he added.
In a March analysis of the CPA implementation the Minister for Presidential Affairs Luka Biong said that the relative peace in most areas was a major achievement but estimated that only 56 per cent of the agreement had been implemente