Khartoum Using Cheap Oil to Expand Its Clout

Sudanese Episcopal Panel Warns of Fallout

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KHARTOUM, Sudan, AUG. 7, 2001 (ZENIT.orgFides).- The Khartoum regime is seeking to increase its influence on neighboring states by selling oil at low prices and investing the profits in other African countries.

Following a protest by the bishops of southern Africa, regarding Pretoria´s investment in Khartoum´s oil industry, the Justice and Peace Task Force of the Sudan Catholic Bishops´ Regional Council denounced the Kenya´s decision to buy cheap Sudanese oil.

The task force stressed that oil revenues help fuel the Islamic government´s war on the Christians and animists in Sudan´s south.

Kenya, the bishops warn, will not only have «cheap oil but also large numbers of Sudanese refugees driven away from their homes in Sudan´s southern oil region.»

In early July, Kenya announced it had agreed to import oil from Sudan. Local companies have already signed contracts with their Sudanese counterparts. Kenya has also asked for funds from the Sudanese government to relaunch its sugar industry.

Ethiopia was the first country in the region to reach an oil agreement with Sudan. A contract was signed June 15 for an annual supply to Addis Ababa of 120,000 tons of gasoline and 36,000 tons of kerosene.

To speed up fuel delivery, in compliance with the contract, Ethiopia will build its own depot in Sudanese territory. Ethiopia has already begun using Port Sudan for its export-import traffic. This has enabled Ethiopia to sidestep Eritrea, which after the 1998-2000 border war, closed its ports to Ethiopia.

This drawing closer between Ethiopia and Sudan comes after years of tension, particularly after the 1995 assassination attempt against Egyptian President Mohammed Hosni Mubarak, on a visit to Addis Ababa, was attributed to a Khartoum-supported group.

Oil profits are used by Khartoum to increase its military potential. Recently, thanks to Chinese aid, three new arms and ammunitions factories were built near Khartoum.

China has considerable oil interests in Sudan. The China National Petroleum Company expects to triple oil production abroad by 2005, thanks to oil extraction in Sudan. The company is joining Canadian, Malaysian, Russian and, indirectly, French and Italian oil companies already present in Sudan.

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