Khartoum endorses peace accord

Sudanese President Umar Hasan al-Bashir pledged that his government would honour a landmark peace deal with southern rebels to end Africa's longest-running civil war.

    Sudan's Vice-President Taha said no issue remains unresolved

    "We are committed to implementing the agreements we reached at Naivasha and to pressing ahead with the reconstruction of all Sudan's war zones," al-Bashir told members of parliament, a day after attending the signing in the Kenyan town of the last of the component agreements of a full peace deal to be signed on 9 January.


    The president told MPs he did not believe that southerners would necessarily opt to break away in an independence referendum promised in six years' time.


    "We shall strive to make national unity an attractive choice through our reconstruction and development efforts," he said.


    Al-Bashir was addressing parliament on the 49th anniversary of independence from Britain and said the anniversary would in future also commemorate peace.



    Al-Bashir's endorsement of the peace deal echoed a speech made by his vice-president hours earlier.

    Garang is expected to play a
    prominent role in government

    "The peace process has been fully completed and there is no issue

    that has been left unresolved," Ali Usman Taha said upon his return from Naivasha in Kenya where the deal was signed on Friday.

    The Khartoum government and the main southern SPLM/A rebel group signed accords on two outstanding issues, paving the way for the signing of a comprehensive peace deal in Nairobi on 9 January.

    Taha told a crowd gathered at the headquarters of the ruling
    National Congress party that the deal he negotiated with rebel leader John Garang was "an open book" in which nothing was hidden and which "is open to every Sudanese to read and discuss".

    For its part, the opposition Popular Congress party issued a statement welcoming the Naivasha deal as an important development that would "halt the bloodshed and fighting among the sons of one country".

    The party added that it looked forward to the implementation of the deal's protocols concerning human rights.

    These include ending the state of emergency and guaranteeing political, trade union and press freedoms.

    The Sudan war erupted in 1983 when the southern rebels rose up against Khartoum to end what they said was the marginalisation

    of the black, animist and Christian south.

    The war and its effects have killed at least 1.5 million people
    and displaced four million others.



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