Talks move Sudanese closer to war's end

Government, rebels strike deal to share oil revenue

December 22, 2003|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - In marathon weekend peace talks, Sudanese government officials and rebel leaders struck a deal to share the country's growing oil revenue, a key step toward ending a 20-year civil war that has killed about 2 million people.

The two sides meeting in Naivasha, Kenya, still have to reach a wider agreement on how to divide the country's wealth. Other unresolved issues are how power would be shared and who would control three disputed areas in central Sudan where there are rich oil deposits.

Sudan, Africa's largest country and the world's sixth-largest oil producer, has been at war for all but 11 years since its 1956 independence. The chief mediator in the peace talks, retired Kenyan Gen. Lazaro Sumbeiywo, described the oil-sharing agreement as a significant breakthrough but offered no details.

Speculation centered on a 50-50 split, but Sumbeiywo said the parties were still working out details during yesterday's talks.

The struggle to control resources, particularly oil, has been a stumbling block in a bid to end the civil war, one of Africa's longest-running conflicts.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell met both sides in Naivasha in October, and President Bush recently called government and rebel leaders, offering various incentives to sign a peace deal.

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