Mbeki asks for more time on oil deadline

2013-07-25 20:12
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. (File, AFP)

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. (File, AFP)

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Khartoum - African officials on Thursday asked Sudan for more time to probe allegations of cross-border rebel support as a deadline nears for shutting the economically vital pipeline carrying South Sudanese oil.

South Africa's former president Thabo Mbeki and Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus met for about 90 minutes with Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir.

Mbeki said they discussed the regional panel launched this week to investigate allegations by Sudan and South Sudan that they are supporting rebels operating in each other's territory.

Regional nations have also begun determining the centreline of a demilitarised buffer zone that is to straddle the 2 000km undemarcated border between the two countries.

Mbeki, the African Union's top mediator between Sudan and South Sudan, said both measures need time.

"Sudan already gave 60 days to shut down the pipeline," he told reporters.

"We asked President Bashir to give these two mechanisms a length of time, because they are already working."

In June, Khartoum told oil companies they had 60 days to stop transporting crude from South Sudan through a Sudanese export pipeline after Bashir accused the Juba government of backing rebels in the north.

There has been confusion, however, about whether the 60 days is merely a warning period, with a shutdown possible after that deadline, which expires around 7 August.

Read more on:    omar al-bashir  |  thabo mbeki  |  sudan  |  south sudan  |  east africa

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