Sudan's president: We have to
forget the bitterness of war

The Sudanese president, quoted by Sunday's edition of the government daily Al Anbaa, said: "We have to forget the war bitterness toward the rebel movement and accept the developments of peace when the movement enters the government as the main partner." 

"We have to accept the likelihood that [SPLA leader] John Garang may soon come here and address the people from this hall," Bashir added.

The president also called upon the media, much of it state-run and supervised, to spread the culture of peace and to help build trust between northern and southern nationals.

Investing in the south

Bashir’s comments come as his government's spending on development and rehabilitation projects in the south aim to make southerners "feel the fruits of peace and unity” – and thus to vote to keep Sudan together in six years time.

Khartoum, last week said peace negotiations with the SPLA, which has been fighting for southern independence, would resume in Kenya on 6 July. Kenyan mediators have predicted a settlement could be reached by August.

The last session of Kenyan-sponsored peace negotiations adjourned in May.

In July 2002, the two sides signed in Kenya a peace framework, calling for a transition period under which the south would enjoy autonomy for six years before voting in a referendum to secede or remain united. 
 
Sudan's 20 years of civil war has claimed around two million lives, mainly from war-induced famine when south Sudanese armed groups renewed a campaign for greater autonomy.

A further four million people have been displaced by the war in the last couple of decades.