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Bashir offers oil in exchange for unity

Ahram Online, Friday 17 Dec 2010

Sudanese President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir announced his government 's willingness to give up all its share in the oil present in south Sudan in exchange for unity. The president's statement was made Friday during a reception for a delelgation from The African Union's Peace and Security Council.

Al-Bashir’s government has repeatedly urged voters in the south to opt for remaining part of Sudan. It might be his last overture before the January 9, self-determination vote.

In his speech today, Bashir made it clear that he is making this offer voluntarily. “It has been stated in the 2005 peace agreement that oil output in the south should be divided equally between the unity government of Kartoum and the government in the south, but we are doing it for the sake of a unified state,” Bashir said, as reported by the pan-Arab satellite TV network, Aljazeera.

Southern Sudan is now a semi-autonomous region governed by the former rebels of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement.

An aide to Sudan's president said on Thursday efforts to keep the country united had failed, in the first public acknowledgement from the ruling northern elite that the south would likely secede after a referendum, according to Reuters report.

Presidential assistant Nafie Ali Nafie, seen as a hardline supporter of unity, said it was now "expected" that people from the oil-producing south would choose to declare independence in the 9 January vote, the state Suna news agency stated as reported by Reuters

The announcement from Nafie, one of the most powerful men in Sudan, could mark a change in direction in the north. President Al-Bashir previously said he would campaign up to the last moment to keep north and south united and members of his party have threatened not to recognise the result of the vote, citing irregularities.


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