Home | News    Tuesday 24 January 2012

AU urges Sudan & South Sudan to reverse unilateral actions over oil

January 23, 2012 (ADDIS ABABA) – The African Union (AU) has voiced alarm over the dangerous brinkmanship between Sudan and South Sudan over their oil dispute, urging the recently-separated countries to refrain from unilateral actions.

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Chairperson of the AU Commission Jean Ping (Sudan Views)

Sudan and South Sudan have been deadlocked in a dispute over the fees that the landlocked South should pay to use Khartoum’s pipeline infrastructure to bring its oil to Sudan’s main Red Sea outlet in Port Sudan.

Khartoum, citing Juba’s failure to pay transit fees since the South seceded in July, confiscated and diverted South Sudan’s oil to its refineries, prompting the latter to accuse it of stealing.

As talks between the two sides under the mediation of the AU High Level Panel (AHUIP) led by former South African President Thabo Mbeki in the Ethiopian capital Addais Ababa stalled last week, South Sudan decided to halt oil production in response to Khartoum’s unilateral action.

In a statement issued on Monday, the chairperson of the AU commission, Jean Ping, said he was “gravely concerned” by recent developments which he said brought the relations between Juba and Khartoum to “the point of breakdown”.

The statement warned that the current events threaten to destroy the possibility of “achieving the agreed goal of two viable states, friendly and mutually supportive”.

“These reciprocal unilateral measures threaten grave damage to the economic prospects of both countries and relations between them” the statement added.

However, the AU expressed confidence that the proposals put forward by Mbeki’s panel can bridge the differences between Sudan and South Sudan, noting that these proposals enjoy support from China, the biggest investor in the two countries’ oil sectors, and other members of the international community including the US.

Ping urged Sudan and South Sudan to refrain from “unilateral actions with immediate effect” and remain at the negotiation table until an agreement on oil and other financial issues is reached.

“Such an agreement will be beneficial to the Governments and citizens of South Sudan and Sudan and to the region,” the statement concluded.