North and south Sudan say they accept a border ruling by judges in The Hague that gives a big oilfield to the north.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration has redrawn the boundaries of Abyei region, which became a flashpoint during a 22-year-long war between north and south.sudan

The judges decided not to abide by the borders proposed after the 2005 peace deal, which the north had rejected.

Instead it ruled that several areas – including the Heglig oilfied – were not part of Abyei.

Although The Hague court was deciding where Abyei’s borders lay rather than who owned the land, analysts say the ruling was crucial in determining the ownership of the oilfields.

Abyei’s inhabitants will be asked in a referendum in 2011 whether they want to be a part of north or south Sudan – and analysts say they are likely to opt for a union with the south.

By reducing the size of Abyei compared with the 2005 proposals, the court has effectively awarded more land and mineral wealth to the north.

The BBC’s James Copnall in the capital, Khartoum, says the reaction on the ground to the judges’ ruling will be a key test of the peace between north and south.


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