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Oil is not the issue in Sudan, southern movement says

While the Khartoum government has offered to give up its share of southern oil in return for Sudan's continued unity, the southern SPLM is not satisfied

Ahram Online, Saturday 18 Dec 2010


The Sudanese People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) faced down Sudanese President Omar Hassan El-Beshir on Saturday to give up his government's share in southern oil in exchange for unity in the scheduled referendum on southern independence due 9 January.

Beshir announced his government 's willingness to give up its share in oil wealth present in South Sudan in exchange for Sudan's unity. The president's statement, made Friday, came during a reception put on for a delegation of the African Union's Peace and Security Council.

The spokesman of the SPLM, the ruling party in the South and a partner in the Khartoum unity government, Ben Matthew, expressed disappointment at the offer: “We can not link oil to unity; unity should be the outcome of real national feelings towards one's homeland.”

In a telephone interview with Ahram Online, Matthew said that it would have been more beneficial if the ruling National Congress Party formulated a national project that reflects the religious and cultural differences within in the country — an allusion to making a distinction between religion and the state.

Sudan has been implementing Islamic Sharia law since September 1983, when civil war broke out. Since then, it became a point of contention for southerners — mostly Christian and followers of African religions — who disaprove of Islamic laws adopted by the salvation regime after the coup in June 1989.

“Oil is not the private property of Beshir or the south to give it up or not,” Matthew added.

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