Sudan peace talks resume

Sudan's government and its main rebel group are meeting to discuss the remaining sticking points standing in the way of a deal to end 20 years of civil war.

    Ali Osman Taha (L) and John Garang are leading the talks

    Khartoum's Vice President Ali

    Osman Taha and the head of the Sudan People's

    Liberation Army (SPLA) resumed discussions on Friday after failing to meet

    a self-imposed end-of-year deadline for sealing a peace

    deal.

    "The two parties resumed talks at 11:00 am (0800 GMT) after a

    one day break," Lazaro Sumbeiywo, a retired Kenyan army general

    mediating the talks, said

    .

    Before adjourning for the New Year and Sudan's Independence Day,

    mediators reported both parties had made progress on the status

    of the three disputed areas of Abyei, southern Blue Nile State and

    the Nuba Mountains.

    The southern-based SPLA claims these areas although they are not geographically

    part of the south.

    Disputed regions 

    The two sides had "broadly agreed" that the southern Blue Nile State

    and the Nuba Mountains regions would remain autonomous.

    But they had not

    reached a deal "on the extent and nature of the autonomy" as well as

    the status of Abyei, a member of the mediating team said Friday.

    Also under discussion is power-sharing - mainly the distribution

    of political and administrative posts.

    Sudan is the scene of Africa's
    longest civil war

    And the two sides are discussing the status of the capital,

    Khartoum, particularly whether Islamic law would apply in the city

    during an envisaged transition period

    .

    Khartoum and the rebels have already reached a rough agreement

    on the sharing of wealth, particularly oil revenues. Most of Sudan's

    oil is in the rebel-held south.

    Civil war

    In 2002, Khartoum and the SPLA struck a breakthrough accord

    granting the south the right to self-determination after a six-year

    transition period.

    And last September both sides reached a deal on

    transitional security, under which the government would withdraw its

    troops from southern positions.

    The war in Sudan, which erupted in 1983, is the longest-running

    civil conflict on the African continent.

    It has pitted the south,

    where most observe traditional African religions and Christianity,

    against the Muslim, Arabised north.

    The conflict has claimed at least 1.5 million lives and

    displaced an estimated four million people.

    SOURCE: AFP


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