Sudan has chosen Ahmed Haroun, wanted by the International Criminal Court on Darfur war crimes charges, as governor of a sensitive north-south border province that contains key oil fields, state media said on Friday. State news agency SUNA said President Omar Hassan al-Bashir had named Haroun to lead the province of South Kordofan, which includes the contested border town of Abyei, site of clashes between northern and southern armies last year.

A spokesman for the former southern rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement had no immediate comment on the move, saying the appointment was Khartoum’s to make. North and south Sudan, whose conflict is separate from the ongoing violence in Darfur in Sudan’s west, have had a troubled relationship since signing a peace deal in 2005 to end two decades of civil war.

The International Crisis Group think tank said in October the peace deal was at risk in South Kordofan, which had “many of the same ingredients” that sparked the conflict in Darfur. Scores of people were killed and more than 50,000 displaced last year when northern and southern armies clashed in Abyei. Both north Sudan and the country’s semi-autonomous south claim the town. At stake is control over nearby oilfields and a pipeline funnelling crude to Sudan’s Red Sea coast.

Sudan says it produces 500,000 barrels of oil a day, a figure which it hopes to raise to 600,000 in 2009.



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