UNITED NATIONS, Aug 6 – UN leader Ban Ki-moon on Monday called on the leaders of Sudan and South Sudan to find more “political will” to overcome all their divisions as he welcomed a deal to share their oil wealth.
The African Union brokered the oil accord announced Saturday which Ban said was an “important milestone for building good neighborly relations” between the two states who this year came close to all-out war.
Ban “is encouraged that the two governments have significantly narrowed their positions on contentious issues,” said UN spokesman Martin Nesirky.
“He regrets, however, that they have not met the August 2 deadline” set by the UN Security Council to produce an overall peace accord, Nesirky added.
“He urges the Sudanese and South Sudanese leaders to muster the necessary political will to resolve all outstanding issues.”
Sudan and South Sudan agreed Juba would pay Khartoum a package amounting to about $3 billion and a per-barrel fee for sending its oil through the north’s infrastructure for export at Port Sudan.
South Sudan halted its oil production in January, accusing the Khartoum authorities of stealing the crude.
The deal ended one of the major disputes between the two countries who split in July last year. They still do not have a definitive border and are wrangling over the disputed territory of Abyei and issues such as citizenship.
AU envoy Thabo Mbeki, the former South African president, is expected to brief the Security Council on Thursday on his efforts to bring the two sides together.
Mbeki said Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir and the South’s President Salva Kiir would meet next month in a bid to find an agreement on Abyei.
He also said an agreement had also been reached between Sudan, the United Nations, the AU and the Arab League to allow for humanitarian access to Sudan’s Blue Nile and South Kordofan states where rebels are battling government forces.
Ban praised the accord, but urged the Sudanese government “to expeditiously enable the delivery of aid to the populations concerned.” Sudan has limited access to aid groups. The UN says there is a major humanitarian crisis in Kordofan and Blue Nile.