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South Sudan to use oil money on agriculture- official

Nov 30, 2006 (JOHANNESBURG) — Southern Sudan would channel its oil revenue into agriculture and infrastructure development, a top priority it faces after emerging from prolonged civil war, Sudanese officials said here on Thursday.

"We have to use our oil money to oil our agriculture," said Barnaba Benjamin, the minister of regional cooperation in the government of Southern Sudan, which is rich in oil.

Benjamin said oil industry in Sudan was mainly participated by Asian countries including China, Malaysia and India.

Benjamin made the remarks on behalf of the President of Southern Sudan Salva Kiir Mayardit, who is also the first vice president of the Republic of Sudan.

Kiir was visiting South Africa to discuss post-war construction of Southern Sudan but had to cut it short due to renewed clashes in the region, according to the SAPA news agency.

Benjamin said Sudan would focus on developing rural areas to avoid the overcrowding caused by rapid urbanization in other parts of Africa.

While the region was plagued by wars and underdevelopment, Benjamin said it had "enormous resources" and agricultural potential.

"We must make sure that the person in the rural area is engaged in the development of our country," he said.

The Sudanese government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) in the south signed the power-sharing Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in January last year, putting an end to the 21-year civil war in south Sudan. Kiir, chairman of the SPLM, became the first vice president of Sudan seven months later.

The agreement allowed a referendum to be carried out in the south in 2011 to decide whether to keep the unity of the country or announce an independence of the region.

Benjamin said the CPA now needed to be implemented because it did not merely mean a cessation of hostilities, but had to provide infrastructure, food security, water and education.

He also pleaded for South African investment in Sudan, saying the country’s investment laws were "very liberal".

(Xinhua)