Sudanese opposition backs peace deal

Two northern Sudanese opposition movements have dropped previous reservations and backed interim peace deals between the government and southern rebels.

    The three opposition parties met
    in Cairo for talks this weekend

    Opposition party officials said Umma party leader Sadeq al-Mahdi, Democratic Unionist Party chief Mohammed Osman al-Mirghani and John Garang, head of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) which is holding the peace talks with the government, had agreed to work together to end Sudan's 20-year-old civil war.

       

    The three men reached the agreement during talks in Cairo at the weekend, they said.

     

    "The meeting in Cairo was to support the peace process, support Machakos and discuss how to work together for democracy and peace in Sudan," Mahdi's assistant Abbas el-Feky said, referring to the Kenyan town where several rounds of peace talks between the government and SPLA have been held since July 2002.

       

    The two sides agreed last year to waive Islamic law in non-Muslim areas and hold a referendum on secession in the south following a six-year transitional period. But tough issues such as power and wealth-sharing in the rich oil-producing country remain unresolved.

     

    About two million people have been killed since the civil war began in 1983. The SPLA wants south Sudan to have more autonomy from the north. Both the SPLA and the government have made clear they back Sudanese unity.


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