Sudan and South Sudan Strike 'Partial Peace' Deal

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Sudan and South Sudan today signed a partial peace deal that will ease tensions between the former civil war foes and, most significantly, restart oil exports whose suspension has crippled both countries economies.

The agreement, inked by Salva Kiir, South Sudans president, and Omar Al Bashir, his counterpart from Sudan, came after the scheduled day of talks extended into four days of talks.

Though analysts say the deal still needs work, Thabo Mbeki, South Africas former president and lead negotiator on the African Union- sponsored discussions, praised the move.

"We are convinced that what has happened, which culminated in signing of the agreements, constitutes a giant step forward for both countries," he said during the signing at a five-star hotel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopias capital.

But significant issues remain; not least of which is the status of disputed border areas between the two countries, prompting analysts to term the deal a partial peace.

Perhaps most importantly, Mr. Kiir agreed to restart oil supplies from oilfields in South Sudan, that Sudan then pumps through its territory to export terminals on the Red Sea.

South Sudan shut off the taps in January, claiming that the fees that Mr. Bashirs government in Khartoum was charging were too high.

Both countries rely heavily on crude export sales for their state budgets in South Sudan, oil accounts for 98 percent of government revenues and the shutdown caused huge economic difficulties for both nations.

The oil will start flowing again by the end of the year, I believe, says Pagun Amum, chief negotiator for South Sudan.

Also agreed was the creation of a demilitarized buffer zone along the disputed border between South Sudan and Sudan, which fought Africas longest civil war as a united nation.

More than 2 million people died in on-again off-again fighting that ran between 1955 and 2005 and ended with a peace agreement in 2005 that led to South Sudan seceding into a new independent nation in 2011.

Following today's agreement, troops from both armies would now pull back from positions along the border, where fighting in April raised fears that the two countries were heading back to all-out war. …