KAMPALA, Uganda — The presidents of Sudan and South Sudan signed a long-awaited cooperation agreement on Thursday, paving the way for the resumption of oil exports and casting their ailing economies a desperately needed lifeline. But several analysts said the deal had significant shortcomings.
The status of Abyei, a contested border area, was not settled. Nor was that of several other disputed territories, differences that have driven the countries’ two leaders, historic enemies, nearly to all-out war.
“The seeds of further conflict are firmly planted in this partial deal,’’ John Prendergast, a cofounder of the Enough Project, an antigenocide organization that watches the two Sudans closely, said by e-mail.
Last year, amid great jubilation, South Sudan split off from Sudan after decades of guerrilla struggle. But the divorce was messy. Forces from the two countries have battled intensely over the past year amid confusion over disputed areas and contested oil fields.
South Sudan has billions of barrels of oil, but the pipeline to export it runs through the north. The south shut down production last winter, which deeply wounded the economies of both countries, leading to skyrocketing inflation, protests, and rising discontent.
Since then, negotiations have gone around and around, with increasing pressure by the United States, the African Union, and the United Nations to come to an agreement.
Since Sunday, Omar al-Bashir, the president of Sudan, and Salva Kiir, South Sudan’s leader, had been holed up together in negotiating rooms in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, trying to hammer out a compromise. For years, the two men fought each other on the battlefield, and it seems that the history of bitterness has been extremely difficult to overcome.
On Thursday, they emerged to announce that they would demilitarize the border — a step that had been agreed to in principle last year but was almost instantly violated when Sudan began a brutal counterinsurgency campaign in the Nuba Mountains. The two sides also committed to resuming cross-border trade.