In a significant step toward ending a dispute that brought the two neighbors close to armed conflict, South Sudan and Sudan have reached an agreement that would allow resumption of oil shipments vital to both nations. Both countries deserve congratulations for finding compromise on such an important issue, just one day after the August 2 deadline set by the UN Security Council for reaching agreement, and it is hoped that the agreement will be an impetus to resolve other outstanding issues.
In response to Sudan’s diversion of oil, South Sudan shut off its entire oil production in January. The economic linchpin of both countries, oil revenues were one of many issues left unresolved when South Sudan became an independent nation last summer, and their interruption has created much hardship.
No financial details were announced, but during the course of the negotiations last week South Sudan and Sudan agreed to transit fees for South Sudanese oil shipped to transit points through Sudanese pipelines and a $3.02 billion package to compensate Sudan for the loss of its former oil reserves located in South Sudan.
The agreement still needs to be signed, but has been announced by both governments. It is a big step, one reflecting leadership and a new spirit of compromise on both sides. The oil impasse has lasted more than six months and for the good of both nations now is the time to bring it to an end.
If the government of Sudan would also take the steps needed to fully and immediately implement its agreement to allow humanitarian assistance and cease hostilities in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, implement the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur, end the climate of impunity and respect the rights of all citizens, it could take important steps to give its people a brighter future.