Break in Sudan peace talks

Talks in Kenya to end Sudan's 20-year civil war will adjourn on Sunday and resume in September to let the warring parties seek ways out of the deadlock.

    South Sudan Youth for Peace members demonstrate outside the Kenya talks venue

    Representatives of Khartoum and the southern rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) have agreed to end the talks as scheduled on Sunday, the independent Al Rai Al Aam newspaper of Khartoum said on Friday.

    The talks are being held under the auspices of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) which groups Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Uganda and, nominally, Somalia.

    The latest round has achieved no progress on how power and resources can be shared during a six-year interim period of self-rule for southern Sudan.

    During this round, Khartoum has renewed its objection to a draft document unveiled by IGAD, saying it provided for measures that would ultimately lead to the secession of southern Sudan.

    Appeal to Bush

    Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir has sent a message to US President George Bush reiterating his government's commitment to peace and calling on the United States to play an effective role in the Sudan peace process, the Sudanese foreign minister said on Thursday.

    Kenyan Foreign Minister Kalonzo Musyoka has worked hard to     keep both groups at the table

    Mustafa Ismail also called on the eastern African body mediating talks to make new proposals to overcome the deadlock between Khartoum and southern rebels.

    Beshir said his government "looks forward to a positive and effective role to be played by the US for pushing the Kenya peace negotiations forward," Ismail told reporters here.

    Kenyan efforts, including those of Foreign Minister Kalonzo Musyoka, have been instrumental in keeping the peace talks alive.

    But the appeal to the US was sent now because the negotiations between Khartoum and the south Sudanese rebel movement in Kenya are experiencing a deadlock, noted Ismail.

    Mending fences

    Meanwhile, the minister denied any arrangements for a meeting at the present time between Beshir and SPLA leader John Garang.

    "This does not imply that the government is opposed to the meeting in principle," said Ismail, noting the two men had previously met twice.

    However, such a meeting could be held if it turned out that it would boost the stumbling peace negotiations, he said.

    "If the government is interested in mending fences with other political forces, it should naturally be more interested in building bridges with the popular movement (SPLA) because it will be a major ruling partner if a peace agreement is concluded."

    The conflict has claimed at least 1.5 million lives and displaced four million people.

    As for the work of mediators, he said: "We want the Nakuru draft to come among other documents, rather than the sole basis for negotiations."

    He was referring to a draft unveiled by IGAD at talks held last month in Nakuru, Kenya, between Khartoum and the SPLA.

    Self-determination

    The document was submitted again at the current round of talks in Nanyuki, Kenya, despite Khartoum's objections. The government says the draft provides for measures that would ultimately lead to the secession of southern Sudan.

    "The government has no objection to placing the Nakuru draft along with other documents on the negotiating table as it provides for sharing power and resources," said Ismail.

    Khartoum and the SPLA struck a breakthrough accord in July 2002 granting the south the right to self-determination after a six-year transition period and exempting this region from Islamic laws.

    South Sudan is divided between Muslim, Christian and animist groups.

    The conflict has claimed at least 1.5 million lives and displaced four million people.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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