But now there’s a glimmer of hope for Sudan, and those who have interests in its nascent but rich oil reserves. Signed in Nairobi before Kenyan president Daniel Arop Moi, the agreement addresses the two contentious issues—religious freedom and right to self-determination—which had goaded the SPLA to take to arms 19 years back. The agreement now promises religious freedom to all, limits the application of sharia to the North, and commits the country to creating a pluralistic society. It also proposes a six-year transitional arrangement for a sharing of power and oil revenues between the rebels and the government. Then will follow a referendum to decide whether the southerners want to secede.
There are some hitches, though. For one, the two sides meet next month to decide on a ceasefire. Without that the accord could be useless. But post-9/11, the government wants to eschew religious extremism, and the SPLAs feel the government could utilise oil revenues to arm itself to complete superiority.