S.Sudan tracks oil sold by Sudan, warns Chinese firms
Fri Feb 17, 2012 5:30pm GMT
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* S.Sudan investigates whether Chinese firms helped Sudan
* S.Sudan is trying to borrow using oil as guarantee (Adds budget, financial
offer to Sudan withdrawn)
By Ulf Laessing
JUBA, Feb 17 (Reuters) - South Sudan said on Friday it had started legal
steps to track down oil it says was seized and sold by neighbouring Sudan in
a row over oil payments and said the role of Chinese oil firms would be
South Sudan took three-quarters of Sudan's oil when it became independent in
July under a 2005 peace deal with Khartoum that ended decades of civil war.
The landlocked African nation needs to export its crude through Sudan but
both nations have failed to agree on a transit fee, prompting Khartoum to
seize some southern oil. Sudan has sold at least one oil cargo, industry
sources have told Reuters.
South Sudan, one of the world's least developed countries, has responded by
shutting down its entire output of 350,000 barrels per day. It accuses
neighbouring Sudan of seizing 6 million barrels since December.
"The ministry of petroleum has notified the ministry of justice and has
issued a legal notice internationally through our legal international
consultants to track down this oil and has reported that this is stolen
oil," government spokesman Barnaba Marial Benjamin told reporters.
He also said the government was investigating whether Chinese oil firms
operating in South Sudan have helped Khartoum seize any crude.
"Once it is proven through an investigation, definitely the government of
the Republic of South Sudan will take steps," he said after a cabinet
meeting, without elaborating.
This was the second such comment about Chinese firms within days by a top
official in South Sudan and unusual criticism since China is the biggest
buyer of southern oil.
State oil firms from China, India and Malaysia own majority shares in the
three consortiums extracting oil in South Sudan. China has built the most
oil facilities in both countries.
Oil talks between Sudan and South Sudan sponsored by the African Union in
Ethiopia will resume on Feb. 23, but Benjamin said Khartoum was undermining
negotiations by having bombed a disputed border region this week. Sudan
He said South Sudan had withdrawn a financial offer worth $2.6 billion to
Khartoum in exchange for resolving the status of the disputed border region
of Abyei and other issues related to border security.
"The Republic of Sudan is not responding positively to this gesture so we
would like to make it clear that this is no longer on offer," he said.
Apart from oil, the two former civil war foes need to sort out a long list
of disputes including marking the joint border and sharing debt.
The cabinet agreed on "quite substantial" cuts in expenditures to make up
for the loss of oil revenues due to the shutdown, he said.
Oil makes up 98 percent of state income in the war-torn country, causing
diplomats to question whether the new nation can go more than a few months
without new oil revenues.
Benjamin said the government would make cuts for all ministries except
security, education, health and infrastructure.
The finance ministry could not be immediately reached to specify the
Benjamin said Sudan was trying to secure development loans on international
markets using natural resources such as oil and its agricultural potential
"South Sudan is the only country that has no debt ... Even the United
States, they borrow money, Britain borrows so why can't we borrow?" he said,
without giving a timeframe or targeted volumes. (Editing by James Jukwey and
C Thomson Reuters 2012 All rights reserved
Sudan police raid campus, arrest hundreds-activists
Fri Feb 17, 2012 6:19pm GMT
(Adds arrest count, quotes from lawyer)
KHARTOUM Feb 17 (Reuters) - Sudanese police arrested hundreds of students in
a pre-dawn raid on dormitories in the University of Khartoum on Friday, in a
crackdown on a campus that has been at the centre of recent anti-government
protests, activists said.
The university in the Sudanese capital has been closed for about two months
after students staged demonstrations over rising prices, unemployment and
Police wielding batons entered the student housing early on Friday morning,
beating and detaining hundreds of those who had remained in the dormitories
waiting for classes to resume, one witness said.
"We were woken in our rooms by the voices and strikes of the police," said
the witness, who asked not to be identified. Many students had been staying
on campus despite previous orders to leave because they were not from
Khartoum and had nowhere else to stay, he said.
Sudan's police spokesman was not immediately available to comment on the
Sudan has not seen mass protests like the ones that ousted leaders in Egypt
and Tunisia, but small demonstrations inspired by revolts in other Arab
countries have flared up over the past year over inflation and other issues.
Mohamed Omar, a member of a committee of student activists from the
university, told reporters police arrested 317 students in the raid.
They were being held at 11 police stations throughout Khartoum, but the
group could not locate two of the arrested students, he said.
A lawyer who has been monitoring the events, also speaking on condition of
anonymity, said police had charged the students under a criminal law against
"The students were sleeping, so how could they be inciting unrest?" the
lawyer said. (Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz; Writing by Alexander Dziadosz;
Editing by Alessandra Rizzo and Andrew Heavens)
C Thomson Reuters 2012 All rights reserved
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Received on Fri Feb 17 2012 - 17:03:10 EST