Sudan gives two-week stay of execution over S. Sudan oil shutdown

South Africa's former president Thabo Mbeki walks past journalists as he leaves after a meeting with Sudanese President on July 25, 2013 in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum. The former South African president is investigating allegations by Sudan and South Sudan that they are supporting rebels operating in each other's territory. PHOTO | AFP 

Sudan has allowed two more weeks for South Sudan to continue transporting and exporting its oil through its territory as relations between the two former civil war foes continue to be strained.

Initially, Khartoum had set the shut-down deadline at August 7.

"This comes as a response to the request made by the African Union and Chinese officials to President [Omar-al] Bashir on Thursday," a reliable diplomatic source said.

He added that Sudan gave more time to allow an AU investigation committee to finish its work on counter-claims that the two states are supporting rebels in each other's countries.

Sudan had notified Juba that it would shut the crucial oil pipeline on August 7, if the latter does not end the alleged support to rebels. Both governments depend on the oil for the majority of their revenues.

The chair of the AU High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) Thabo Mbeki Thursday met Mr Bashir to get an reassurance of Khartoum's commitment on an existing but poorly observed cooperation agreement between the two countries.

During the meeting, Mr Mbeki requested for more time for committees investigating rebel support claims by each side to complete their work.

The two also discussed the issue of the demilitarised zone between the two countries.

"We came to tell the President that the committees formed by the African Union to review the matter started their work and it is our opinion that these committees are given time to do their job," he said.

Today, the committee on mutual accusations of supporting insurgents in each state is expected to visit some border areas.

Formal complaint

The committee chair, Major general Julius Sunday said that his committee has received a formal complaint from Sudan alleging that South Sudan is supporting rebels fighting in its territory and it is studying it.

Juba has repeatedly denied the accusations.

The chairperson of the Verification and Monitoring Team from Sudan, Emad Adawi, reiterated that Khartoum will abide by final findings of the committee.

Other pending issues between the two neighbouring countries include border demarcation, the status of the Southern people in Sudan and the status of Abyei region.

These issues arose following independence of South Sudan in July 2011.

Under the AU sponsorship, Sudan and South Sudan signed a cooperation agreement last September, but it has not been implemented to date.

AU has been leading the mediation between the two countries since 2011.

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