(Updates with details on the agreement from the third paragraph.)
June 29 (Bloomberg) -- Sudanese authorities agreed with Southern Sudan’s government to demilitarize their common border before the south declares independence next week, the African Union said.
The Sudanese army, based in Khartoum, and Southern Sudan’s forces, agreed to redeploy 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) outside the border within 10 days, the AU High-Level Implementation Panel on Sudan, led by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, said in an e-mailed statement.
Today’s agreement will hold “pending the resolution of the status of disputed border areas and the final demarcation of the border,” the statement said. The oil-rich south is due to become independent on July 9.
Clashes between Sudanese government forces and units of Southern Sudan’s army in Southern Kordofan, northern Sudan’s only oil-producing state, have forced more than 73,000 people to flee their homes since June 5, according to the United Nations. The fighting there and in the border region of Abyei raised concern of a return to the two-decade civil war in sub-Saharan Africa’s third-biggest oil producer that ended in 2005.
Mbeki last week mediated an accord between the north and south to withdraw their troops from Abyei and allow Ethiopian peacekeepers to deploy in the area. Sudan’s army seized the main town in Abyei on May 21.
Delegations from the two sides signed today’s accord in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, to “reaffirm” a May 30 agreement to establish the “common border zone,” the AU panel said.
Southern Sudan has accused President Umar al-Bashir’s government of attempting to militarily occupy disputed border areas before the south’s independence.
Southern Kordofan borders the oil-rich states of Unity and Upper Nile in Southern Sudan, which will assume control of about 75 percent of Sudan’s daily oil production of 490,000 barrels when it becomes independent on July 9. The crude is pumped mainly by China National Petroleum Corp., Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional Bhd and India’s Oil & Natural Gas Corp.
The state accounts for about 115,000 barrels per day, according to Sudan’s minister of state for oil, Ali Ahmed Osman.
Al-Bashir’s government in Khartoum accused the Southern Sudanese army of starting the violence in both Southern Kordofan and Abyei.
--Editors: Philip Sanders, Emily Bowers
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