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South African Bishops say buying petrol from Sudan promotes war

The Catholic Church in South Africa has strongly criticised cooperation agreements between South African oil companies and the Khartoum government.

"Given our experience under apartheid - an SACBC statement said - we should be the last to support a government that is at war with its own population".

South African oil exploration company Soekor is in the advanced stages of negotiating expansion activities in Sudan.

Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference (SACBC) President Cardinal Wilfrid Napier said: "We are gravely concerned that by negotiating new concessions in areas that have not yet been 'cleansed' of communities, regarded by the Khartoum government as disposable, South Africa will contribute to the escalation of the conflict in the Sudan. This is quite contrary to our government's declared intention to promote justice, democracy, and peace in that country.

Cardinal Napier called on the Minister for Mineral & Energy Affairs, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, to intervene to stop this overt support for a party to the Sudan conflict that is seriously alleged to have committed serious violations of human rights.