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S. Sudan cabinet forms committee to educate citizens on deal with Sudan

October 6, 2012 (JUBA) - South Sudan has announced the formation of a high level committee to conduct an education programme detailing the border and oil issue deal signed with Sudan on 27 September.

The programme will target government officials as well as the civil population minster of information Barnaba Marial Benjamin told journalists on Friday.

Marial spoke after attending the weekly cabinet briefing in which the deal was “unanimously and unconditionally” welcomed by president Salva Kiir and the Council of Ministers.

The agreement between the two countries agreed to restart oil exports and to introduce a demilitarised buffer zone along the border. However, the contentious fate of the Abyei region was not settled.

The deal was signed after four days of intensive negotiations between president Kiir and his Sudanese counterpart, Omar al-Bashir in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

Although the agreement has received the approval of Juba’s cabinet, it is still awaiting the endorsement of the national legislative assembly, whose members are on recess until next week.

Speaker of the assembly, James Wani Igga has said that he has asked Kiir to cut short the reces for the members to return by October 10, in order for the deal to be debated promptly.

Although the deal has been widely lauded by the international community, there has been domestic disquiet regarding the agreed-upon buffer zone between the two countries.

The governor of Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Paul Malong Awan, said “the negotiators never consulted us. They do not know where these areas are. They have no knowledge about them at all. We will not accept. We will just fight. This is the only solution and which I think this is what they wanted,"

Awan’s declaration receieved pupoular support in the state including a demonstration from members of civil society organisations.

Together they signed a petition addressed to president Kiir, declaring their rejection of the inclusion of a 14 mile demilitarized border zone.

However, Marial said that the strategic objectives of the deal have been misunderstood by many and that the “government has decided to have a select committee to educate the citizens on the agreements since some citizens have sprung up as critics to the agreement”.