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August 2012 - Posts

Sudanese rebels vow to strengthen alliance with opposition, plan more military attacks

August 28, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – The leadership of the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army North (SPLM/A-N) concluded a secretive meeting on Monday and outlined plans for increased military and political activities against the government in Khartoum.

SRF leader Malik Agar

The Movement’s chairman Malik Aggar addressed the meeting of the SPLM-N’s leadership council whose starting date and place have not been announced. In his address, Aggar said that his group was working on strengthening its alliance with rebel groups from the western region of Darfur in order to make it a powerful tool of political change.

Aggar was referring to the Sudanese Revolutionary Forces (SRF), a coalition SPLM-N forged in November last year with three rebel groups from Darfur and vowed concerted military efforts to overthrow the government of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP).

The SPLM-N leader, in statements  , said that their meeting is going to devise a meticulous plan for forging alliances between SRF and political opposition groups in Khartoum in order to achieve change.

The SPLM-N leadership meeting was held under the motto “unifying the opposition work and toppling the regime.” It included senior SPLM/A-N representatives as well as representatives of student affiliates and refugees in South Kordofan and Blue Nile States, where the group has been fighting government forces since last year.

Mainstream political groups in Sudan, mainly the National Umma Party (NUP) and the Democratic Unionist Party (NUP), have been avoiding association with the SPLM-N and SRF with their leaders expressing concerns over the possibility of total state collapse in the event of violent change.

In his speech, Agar held all the regimes that ruled Sudan responsible for all wars. He went on to say that the SPLM-N intends to address the errors of the past by holding a constitutional conference and reorganizing the Sudanese states on new basis to be predicated on the will of the people.

He also reiterated that his group advocates the establishment of a confederation with neighboring South Sudan after toppling the NCP. The confederation, according to Agar, will enable the existence of two independent states and ensure their viability through political and economic coordination as well as soft borders allowing citizens to co-exist and serve common interests.

Khartoum accuses the SPLM-N of being unwilling to sever its historical ties with the ruling party of South Sudan, SPLM, which Khartoum also accuses of supporting the rebels who fought as part of its army before South Sudan secession last year.

“The Summer Attack”

In the same SPLM-N meeting, the group’s chief of staff and deputy chairman Abdel Aziz Adam Al-Hilu revealed that their forces in collaboration with SRF factions are preparing a major military offensive codenamed “The Summer Attack” against government forces.

“Our preparations are underway on full swing to conduct joint SRF military operations that will be unprecedented” Al-Hilu said. He added that “The Summer Attack” will rock the pillars of the regime.

Al-Hilu claimed that their upcoming operation cannot fail because “they are aware of the military, economic and political situation of the NCP.” He described the NCP as an arrogant and despotic gang that is responsible for the outbreak of war because it sought to disarm SPLM/A-N fighters in South Kordofan and Blue Nile without holding the popular consultation process as stipulated in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).

Meanwhile, the SPLM-N’s secretary-general Yasir Arman said that the leadership meeting took a number of important decisions but he declined to reveal them.

Arman expressed confidence that their group will liberate Sudan on the basis of the new Sudan vision which recognizes the reality of diversity. He said that the NCP was experiencing its worst days in light of the upsurge of violence in Darfur and the outbreak of anti-government demonstrations in more than 40 villages and cities in the north.

Arman also touched on their ongoing negotiations with the government in Addis Ababa, saying that the SPLM-N’s strategy for the next rounds will focus on supporting “the demands of Sudanese people for democracy, change and hopes of decent existence”

The next round of talks between the government and SPLM-N is due to be held in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on 3 September following the end of the funeral of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi who in the past played part in bridging the gap between the two sides.

Previous rounds failed to achieve any progress but the two sides are negotiating on the basis of their 28 June 2011 agreement which the Sudanese government disavowed.

Obama urges Ethiopia’s new leader to promote human rights, security

August 26, 2012 (ADDIS ABABA) - US president, Barack Obama, has spoken with Ethiopia’s acting prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, who has become nation’s new leader following the death of his predecessor on 21 August..

                         US President Barack Obama

According to statement by the US embassy in Addis Ababa, Obama has urged the new Ethiopian leader to promote regional security, democracy and human rights.

During their phoneconversation on Thursday, Obama pledged the US’s continued commitment to partnership with Ethiopia, mainly on security areas.

“We encourage the Government of Ethiopia to enhance its support for development, democracy, regional stability and security, human rights, and prosperity for its people”

Obama lauded Zenawi?s “life long” contributions to bringing development to Ethiopia and also admired his role for peace and security in Africa, mainly in Somalia and his responses to the crisis in Darfur, where Ethiopia deployed thousands of peace keeping forces.

Obama also mentioned the late Ethiopian premier’s contributions to the African Union, and his voice for Africa on the world stage.

Zenawi was the US’s key security partner in the horn Africa region, mainly in the war on terror and particularly in the fight against Al-Qaida linked al-Shabab radical group in war-torn Somalia.

After more than two months of illness, Zenawi died last Monday, leaving behind a mixed legacy. Under his rule millions of Ethiopians were lifted out of poverty and the nation has seen double-digit economic growth for nearly a decade.

However he has been criticized of doing little to enhance democracy and human rights while leading the country for 21 years, after toppling the former dictatorial Derg Regime.

Following Zenaw?s death, there are fears that nation may face a power vacuum and instability.

Speaking to Sudan Tribune, many asked whether the achieved developments and consecutive economic growth would be sustained after Zenawi.

Others also raised questions about the political landscape and the nation’s relationship with other countries.

The unresolved Ethiopia-Eritrea border dispute is another major concern for Ethiopians. The two countries fought a 1998-2000 war which killed 70,000 people.

Communication Minister, Bereket Simon, downplayed the concerns saying the current leadership is united and will remain as strong as ever despite Zenawi?s absence.

Sudan regrets partial wording of UNSC’s draft presidential statement on unresolved issues

August 24, 2012 (KHARTOUM) — Sudan’s Ambassador to the United Nations said he regrets part of the wording of a Security Council draft presidential statement prepared by the United States Mission to the UN on the ongoing talks between Khartoum and Juba over the unresolved issues relating to South Sudan’s independence.

Sudan’s Permanent Envoy to the UN, Ambassador Dafa’a Allah Alhag Ali Osman, speaks to the media in New York at the U.N. headquarters (file/Reuters)

Ambassador, Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman, Permanent Representative of Sudan to the United Nations was commenting a draft of presidential statements circulated by the US Ambassador Susan Rice since a consultation meeting on the outstanding issues on 9 August.

The draft welcomed the oil transportation fees deal reached on 3 August but condemned Khartoum’s reluctance to accept a map proposed by the mediation team to establish a buffer zone on the border between countries.

It also urges the Sudanese government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – North (SPLM-N) to resume talks without preconditions.

Daffa-Alla said some paragraphs of the draft presidential statement lacks objectivity citing the criticism of Sudan’s rejection to the map of the buffer zone prepared by the mediation. He further underlined in statements released by Sudan’s official news agency SUNA, that the draft at the same time praises South Sudan acceptance of the map.

Sudan continues to reject the operationalisation of the buffer zone because the proposed map includes a territory, Mile 14, which Sudan refuses to consider as disputed area as Juba claims.

Also, the implementation of the oil deal, reached earlier this month, depends on the signing of a deal to implement the security arrangements the two countries sealed since November 2011.

Daffa-Alla said that they contacted different states members of the UN Security Council, like Russia, China, Azerbaijan, India and Pakistan to explain that the American draft statement was unbalanced.

He added that the position of these countries led to a delay in the presidential statement as consultations are still ongoing to improve the language of the draft and to make it balanced.

The Sudanese diplomat said the French ambassador who chairs the Security Council this month told him that there is no need for a presidential statement at this stage preferring to wait for the outcome of talks, which are due to resume within days.

The French ambassador stressed during a meeting held Thursday on the need to encourage the two parties to reach satisfactory agreements, according to Daffa-Allah.

On Tuesday, US special envoy for the two countries, Princeton Lyman, urged Sudan to accept the map stressing that establishment of a demilitarised zone will allow oil exportation for the benefit of the two countries and create a conducive environment to resolve the remaining issues.

The Security Council held Thursday a bimonthly consultation on the talks between Sudan and South Sudan as provided in its resolution 2046.

Edmond Mulet, Assistant-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, told the meeting that there had been little developments since the suspension of the talks earlier this month. He also said the process would resume on 30 August.

Turabi says revolution may happen in Sudan at any time

August 20, 2012 (KHARTOUM) — A revolution to oust the regime of President Omer Al-Bashir could occur at any moment, said the Islamist opposition leader Hassan Al-Turabi on Sunday, after accusing the regime of ruining the country.

Islamic opposition leader Hassan al-Turabi of the Popular Congress Party speaks during a news conference at the party headquarters in Khartoum January 5, 2011 (Reuters)

In an Eid Al-Fitr sermon in his home village, Wad Al-Turabi, located South of the capital Khartoum, the opposition leader said the stature of the Sudanese government is weak. He added it has lost its impact and leverage on the regional and international arenas.

"The voice of Sudan is low after it was high," he said.

Turabi has confessed, at different times, his role in the bloodless coup d’état which brought General Omer Al-Bashir to power in June 1989.

However, in 1999, Bashir ousted him from his position as speaker of the parliament and placed him under house arrest for four years. But even after 2003 he was detained several times as he was accused of having a role in the creation of one of Darfur’s rebel groups.

In his religious discourse, Turabi accused the government of reneging on many positions, dealing with the decisions of the international community or related the negotiations over outstanding issues with South Sudan "because of its inability to confront".

"Even minor countries in the region can put pressure on Sudan and pass their agenda," he added.

He said the continuation of current policies of the government will lead to more divisions of the country after the secession of South Sudan, stressing that there are further international plans to dismember the country while the government lacks the needed political will to meet these schemes.

The Islamist leader also said the government leaders kidnapped the "civilisational project of the Islamists and they even became without principles and without values."

The Popular Congress Party (PCP) of Hassan Al-Turabi plays an important role in the opposition to the Sudanese regime.

Many opposition forces speak about a secular or citizenship state referring to the separation between the state and religion. However the PCP still remains committed to a programme aiming to establish an Islamic state in Sudan.

32 people, including high ranking Sudanese officials, killed in S. Kordofan plane crash

August 20, 2012 (KHARTOUM) — 32 people, including a minister, two state ministers, a politician and military officials were killed when their Russian plane crashed in Talodi, South Kordofan’s third-largest town, on Sunday.

Sudanese president Omer Al-Bashir (2th from the left) receives condolences upon the death of 26 government officials and politician in Talodi, South Kordofan, after the crash of their plane on 19 August 2012 (SUNA)

Several high ranking delegations were dispatched to celebrate the Eid al-Fitr festival with Sudanese troops in the two troubled states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan where the army fight against a rebellion led by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N).

Among the officials killed in the crash there was Ghazi Al-Sadiq, minister of religious affairs, Mahjoub Abdel-Rahim Toutou, state-minister for youth and sports, and Eissa Daif-Allah, state-minister for tourism.

The leader of the Justice Party, Makki Ali Blayel, was also numbered among the dead, he recently supported the government in its war against the SPLM-N rebels.

The list of the victims released by SUNA (the official national news agency) includes several military personnel, among them: Salah Ismail, a major general of the Sudanese Air Force; Ahmed Musa Ahmed, a police major general; Ahmed Al-Tayeb Abou Groon, an influent major general from the National Intelligence and Security Services; and Luqman Omer, a second commander of the Popular Defence Forces.

The Sudanese Civil Aviation Authority issued a statement saying the crashed plane was an Antonov AN-26 belonging to Alfa Aviation, a Sudanese private operator.

The plane exploded in the mountains surrounding Talodi airport when it was landing, the statement further said.

Sudanese officials denied that the plane crashed because of military activities.

The plane went down in the mountains because of bad weather said Ahmed Balal Osman, culture and information minister as the rainy season there continues till the end of September.

SPLM-N spokesperson Arnu Ngutulu Lodi told the AFP they had no relation with the incident pointing out, "It is a government area."

The SPLM-N and its allied rebel groups attempted several times to take control of Talodi, which near the common border with the South Sudan but the government army repelled their attacks.

Another delegation, led by Sudanese presidential assistant Abdel-Rahman Sadiq Al-Mahdi, was in Kadugli, South Kordofan state’s capital; where he performed Eid Al-Fitr prayer and visited the 14th Infantry Division of the Sudanese army.

In a speech he made at Kadugli mosque and attended by local leaders, Al-Mahdi said that the government would not sign any agreement with the SPLM-N rebels without consulting them.

Minister Ahmed Balal, led another delegation to the Blue Nile state, where he visited the Sudanese troops in Kurmuk, near the Ethiopian border.

In Khartoum President Omer Al-Bashir appeared affected by the loss of his minister and other officials. Minister Ghazi Al-Sadiq was in Saudi Arabia with him to attend a meeting of Islamic Cooperation Organisation before flying to Talodi.

Flanked by his deputies, Ali Osman Taha and Al-Haj Adam Youssef, he received condolences from government officials, political leaders, members of parliaments, diplomatic corps and civil society groups.

Speaking on the occasion, Bashir reiterated his government’s commitment "to move forward on the path of martyrs" to achieve peace and stability throughout the country.

The Sudanese government accepted an initiative to deliver humanitarian assistance to the affected civilians in the rebel held areas. Khartoum and SPLM-N also signed an agreement committing themselves to cooperate with UN agencies and the African and Arab observers.

The two parties are expected to resume political talks next week.

SRF rebels deny agreement with Uma party to hold conference on peace in Sudan

August 13, 2012 (KHARTOUM) — Sudanese rebel alliance denied reaching an agreement with the opposition Uma National Party (UNP) to hold a national conference for peace in Sudan including all the political forces, stressing they welcome all the efforts aiming to bring down Khartoum regime.

SRF leader Malik Agar

Mariam Al-Sadiq Al-Mahdi, UNP leading member was in Kampala from 27 July to 6 August to explain the position of its party which rejects military action to topple the regime and to persuade them to take part in a national conference for peace and democratic transition.

On Saturday in a press conference held in the Sudanese capital, she told reporters that the rebel groups welcomed the Uma party’s imitative. She also described the meetings held with the rebels as "promising and encouraging".

Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) spokesperson, Abu Al-Gassim Imam Al-Haj, denied any having held any meeting or signing any agreement with Mariam. He said they encountered her during different public events organized in Kampala by the opposition groups.

"The change proposed in the UNP’s initiative leads to political reconciliation and co-existence with the regime leadership who are wanted by the (international) justice," he said in statement to Sudan Tribune on Sunday.

"We believe that radical change is the best option of the Sudanese people because it paves the way to maintain Sudan’s unity, to achieve a just peace and to establish a democratic regime where there can be a political alternance between the democratic forces," he emphasised.

Last Friday, the leader of the Uma party Sadiq Al-Mahdi once again warned rebel groups against resorting to military action to overthrow the regime. He said such violence would lead to civil war, brining more divisions and internationalises the Sudanese issue.

Instead, the main opposition party proposes to gather all the political forces, including the rebel groups in a national forum to discuss the crises of Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile, but also to agree on principles that should be included in the new national constitution.

Mariam Al-Mahdi stated on Saturday that the National Congress Party refused their initiative saying there is no political crisis requiring such solution. However, she added the ruling party reiterated its offer for bilateral dialogue with Uma party.

Last December, a delegation of the opposition Popular Congress Party of Hassan Al-Turabi led by Ibrahim Al-Sanusi was arrested at the Khartoum airport after their return from South Sudan where they met with the rebel groups.

Abu Al-Gassim said the SRF supports any political and military action aiming to topple the regime. He mentioned that they were the first since November 2011 to call on the opposition parties to discuss a political agreement and to coordinate ways to bring regime change in Sudan.

He also regretted Sadiq Al-Mahdi statements saying the military option is not their best choice but it is the regime to blame for resorting to violence.

The rebel spokesperson said they are ready to lay down their weapons and pursue their concerns through political channels when there is a democratic regime in the country allowing to realise their demands for peace, justice and development.

The SRF is founded in November 2011 by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – North (SPLM-N), Justice and Equality Movement, and two groups of the Sudan Liberation Movement led by Abdel Wahid Al-Nur and Minni Miinawi.

The four groups who are fighting the Sudanese government in South Kordofan and Blue Nile and Darfur carried out joint attacks against the army in South Kordofan, but did not materialise such operations in Darfur or Blue Nile yet.

However they vow in their founding charter to carry out an attrition war against the government forces across the country before to attack Khartoum to achieve a regime change.

The opposition forces in Khartoum, even if some of them support the military action to weaken the regime, prefer to take the power, as political forces, and involve the rebels in the constitutional process to reach a compromise over their regional demands.

Last June the opposition National Consensus Forces signed a joint political charter in Khartoum but did not consult the SRF forces. The move triggered the rejection of this text by the armed groups which termed the charter as "incomplete" and called to elaborate a joint document.

The international community on the other hand pushes the SPLM-N to negotiate a seperate agreement with the government keeping in mind that they will continue to cross the border to South Sudan and no peace can be achieved between the two countries without ending the South Kordofan and Blue Nile conflict.

Sudan confirms oil transportation prices, talks to resume by the end of August

August 7, 2012 (KHARTOUM) — Sudan spoke on Monday for the first time Monday about the amount of money agreed with South Sudan to transport its oil production. Khartoum also announced that the talks on the remaining unresolved issues will resume during the last week of this month.

Sudan and South Sudan agreed on oil transportation fees on Friday 3 August late in the evening after a compromise proposed by the mediation and a telephone call from the chief mediator to South Sudanese President Salva Kiir. The Sudanese delegation was the first to agree.

Thabo Mbeki held a press conference during the night to announce the agreement but he did not disclose the price accepted by the two delegations.

In Khartoum however news reports, attributed to anonymous sources, emerged with $25 as the agreed price between the two delegations. Meanwhile, in Juba, South Sudan chief negotiator Pagan Amum said the parties agreed on $9.10 for the transportation of oil produced in Petrodar fields and $11 for that of GNPOC fields.

Sudan’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Al-Obeid Morawah, told reports in Khartoum that the average of the agreed fee for oil transportation is $10 per barrel.

He further said that this deal will last for three and half years after what the parties would negotiate lower rates, if they decide to renew the deal.

Pagan, that day, stated that his government already decided to construct an alternative pipeline expecting that it will "be up" when this deal expires.

Al-Obeid also said that Juba will pay Khartoum $3.028 billion as transitional financial assistance over this period of three and half years. This financial package is supposed to cover the third of Sudan’s budget deficit after the independence of South Sudan.

The two parties also in line with the deal have to seek the support of the international community to fund development programme and to write off Sudan’s debit.

This step is included in the resolution of donor conferences held after the signing of the 2005 between Khartoum and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement. but Washington forced earlier this year Turkey to cancel a donor meeting to support Sudan as it wanted the later to allow humanitarian access to South Kordofan.

The Sudanese diplomat explained that Khartoum’s negotiating team did not make any statement and kept silence about the deal because they ignored the position of South Sudanese government when they left the venue of the talks.

Different sources said Pagan Amum expressed some reservation about the compromise Mbeki proposed to the two sides after the end of the deadline fixed by the UN Security Council. The mediator called President Kiir directly before to announce it to the press.

Al-Obeid said, a protocol on oil and financial arrangements will be signed when the two sides resume talks in the period between 26 to 28 August.

He however stressed that it will not be enforced without an agreement on the security issue.

Sudan refuses to accept a map the mediation proposed to operationalise a buffer zone on the common border saying the mediators consider a Sudanese location for the first time as disputed areas. But, the latter says this map does not aim to demarcate disputed borders.

On 9 August, the Security Council will discuss the progress made in the talks and consider if there is a need to impose economic sanctions or not as the parties failed to reach a comprehensive deal on the outstanding issues.

The deal, which is hailed by the international community and opposition parties from both sides, is however criticised by many from both sides. In Juba its seen as conceding too much. In Khartoum, the negotiators are criticised for accepting a very weak compromise.

Gazhi Salah Eddi, head of National Congress Party block in the Sudanese parliament, denied reports saying that the NCP Caucus decided to reject the oil deal reached in Addis Ababa.

He said that the parliamentary group of the ruling party did not take any decision as the issue will be discussed when it is referred as an international agreement between Sudan and the South Sudan for approval before its ratification by the president.

He also denied reports about "heated meeting" of the NCP parliamentary block were the deal was rejected. He pointed out that it was a meeting of the heads of parliamentary committees to discuss economic issues.

The spokesperson of the foreign ministry expected that after the signing, technical meetings will be held between experts from the two sides to prepare the resumption of oil production and transportation..

U.S. applauds Sudan’s oil agreement despite sketchy details

August 5, 2012 (WASHINGTON) – The United States quickly welcomed the announcement made by African Union (AU) mediator and former South African president Thabo Mbeki that the delegations of Sudan and South Sudan reached an agreement regarding oil transit fees.

The sticky issue has all but debilitated the economies of the two neighboring nations and both sides were entrenched in their negotiating positions despite intense regional and international pressure to reach a compromise.

South Sudan broke away from the north last year and took with it around three-quarters of the oil reserves but due to its landlocked situation the new nation could only export and process the crude through the pipelines inside Sudan’s territory to terminals in Port Sudan coastal city.

But due to a disagreement on pricing of the transportation service Juba decided to suspend its oil production which came after it was revealed that Khartoum started seizing some of the south’s oil in late 2011 to make up for what it says are unpaid fees.

Khartoum demanded the payment of $36 per barrel by Juba to export its oil but the latter offered around $1 saying this figure is consistent with international norms.

Sudanese officials also made it clear that the loss of oil revenue left a gap in the budget that needs to be built into any deal with south on oil.

Late on Friday, Mbeki made the surprise announcement to reporters that the two sides reached a comprehensive understanding on oil.

"It’s an [oil] agreement about all of the matters. The issues that were outstanding were charges for transportation, for processing, transit," he told reporters according to Reuters.

"What will remain [now] to then discuss the steps as to when the oil companies should be asked to prepare for the resumption of production and export," Mbeki said.

Officials in Khartoum and Juba were slow to confirm the news and both sides gave conflicting accounts of the price that was agreed upon.

A senior Sudanese official told Sudan Tribune on Saturday that Juba will export its oil for $25 per barrel. South Sudan government on the other hand said they will pay $9.48 for every barrel in addition to around $3 billion in one lump sum.

The accord is good for three and a half years after which the rates can be re-negotiated but only downwards, South Sudan government said.

Sudanese presidential assistant Nafie Ali Nafie today described the agreement as "rewarding" but that its implementation is contingent on concluding negotiations on security issues. He said the deal will provide a conducive environment to weaken rebel movements.

Khartoum accuses Juba of harboring and supporting rebels fighting the Sudanese army in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile. It insisted on tackling this issue prior to discussing all other post-secession items.

Luka Biong, senior member of Juba’s ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), said in an opinion article that Sudan has made "considerable concession" which he said "showed beyond any doubt that it [Sudan] is desperate to reach a deal on oil and other payments".

He also said the price agreed upon was $11 as contradicting the $9 reported in Juba.

"As the South would not want to set precedence in oil tariffs as it intends to diversify its access to ports, the current deal of oil tariffs of $11 per barrel that has been reached provides a basis for confidence building and resolving other issues. On other payments, the offer of South of financial transitional assistance of about $3 billion to Sudan is unprecedented as it did not happen before in the post-independent history of Sudan to receive such free budget support from any country or organizations" Biong wrote in an Op-ed in ’New Nation’ newspaper.

The SPLM official however went on to say he wished the issue of Abyei was attached as a condition for the oil deal to be signed.

"One would have wished that the acceptance of the South of the current oil deal to be conditional on finally resolving the issue of Abyei Referendum, particularly the issue of eligibility to be exclusively for members of Ngok Dinka and other residents except nomads," he wrote.

South Sudan’s chief negotiator Pagan Amum, despite also praising the deal, lashed out at the international community accusing it of siding with Khartoum in the talks.

"America, the U.K., all were silent. They were abetting the theft of Sudan," he said. "They [international community] were all telling us ’let it flow, let Sudan take it.’ Because they don’t want it to affect prices" Amum said.

He also said that international pressure on the negotiations was based on desperation and the search for a "quick fix."

U.S. president Barack Obama issued a statement welcoming news of the agreement.

"The leaders of Sudan and South Sudan deserve congratulations for reaching agreement and finding compromise on such an important issue, and I applaud the efforts of the international community which came together to encourage and support the parties in finding a resolution. In particular, I am grateful for the work of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel, led by President Thabo Mbeki, for its determined and skilled leadership in bringing about this agreement" according to the statement on the White House website.

Obama’s Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a separate statement from Kenya praising the "courage" of South Sudan government.

"We praise the courage of the Republic of South Sudan’s leadership in taking this decision," added Clinton, who had visited Juba on Friday on her current Africa tour.

"Now was the time to bring this impasse to a close, for the good of the people of South Sudan and their aspirations for a better future in the face of ongoing challenges. South Sudan’s leaders have risen to the occasion" she added.

A senior U.S. state department official speaking to reporters on background from Kenya said that that Khartoum and Juba "were in a downward economic spiral that was accelerating at a rapid pace that would have led them into major economic destruction" as a result of the oil shutdown.

"Ninety-eight percent of the revenues of South Sudan lost 95 percent of their budget – lost. And from all indications from the World Bank, from the IMF, and from independent economic analysis that we’ve done, would’ve shown that the South would have probably run out of foreign exchange sometime between the end of August and the first of October. Others say they might have been able to last up until December of this year or January, but this was a major disaster waiting for a new government" the official said.

"In the North, you can see what was also happening. For the first time probably in a decade, we were seeing on the streets of Khartoum daily an increasingly vocal and violent demonstrations against the government. We saw a large rise in inflation; we saw spiraling high fuel prices and fuel shortages and higher food costs in the North, demonstrating that they were in economic trouble as well" the official added.

The official suggested that Clinton pressed South Sudan president Salva Kiir successfully into sealing a deal with Khartoum on oil.

"[T] Secretary did point out very clearly that the prospects of the situation getting worse economically were very, very apparent. But she also said to President Salva Kiir and his leaders that the global economic community, which has helped South Sudan over the last several years with large infusions of money, is going through a tough time itself and that it could not expect an international bailout of the type that would be needed to be able to provide for all of the lost revenue and assistance that it was losing as a result of the oil shortages" the official said.

It remains to be seen how quick the oil will start flowing though experts say that it will take few months to get the pipelines up and running.