Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Sudan News Update: SPLM Set January Deadline; Kenya Editorial

Former Sudan rebels set Jan. deadline for implementing deal

16 Oct 2007 15:58:00 GMT

KHARTOUM, Oct 16 (Reuters) - Former south Sudanese rebels demanded on Tuesday that outstanding provisions of a 2005 peace deal with the Khartoum government be implemented by Jan. 9 to salvage an agreement that ended more than 20 years of civil war.

Sudan's president met a delegation led by the Sudan People's Liberation Movement's vice chairman, Riek Machar, the first meeting since SPLM ministers quit the government last week.

The two sides say they will not return to war, but blame each other for a stalemate in implementing the Jan. 2005 deal.

Describing the 30-minute meeting as "cordial", Machar told reporters SPLM Chairman Salva Kiir would arrive in Khartoum within 48 hours to sit down with President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and resolve the stalemate.

"The return of the ministers to work is dependent on how fast the critical provisions ... are resolved and how fast the violations are corrected," Machar said.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said in Cairo that he and intelligence chief Omar Suleiman would travel to the southern Sudanese capital, Juba, on Wednesday for talks with both sides to help resolve the dispute.

The SPLM complains that hundreds of political prisoners are still being held in northern jails; that northern troops remain deployed in southern oil fields; that the north-south border has not been demarcated; and that the oil sector is not being run in a transparent way. It also says promised press freedom has not materialised.

A key bone of contention is the oil-rich central region of Abyei. The 2005 peace deal gave independent international experts the job of marking Abyei's borders, but Bashir's National Congress Party rejected its findings.

Kiir submitted a reshuffle of SPLM ministers three months ago, which Bashir has still not approved.

"Most of the issues can be resolved by the president alone ... by a stroke of his pen," Machar said, adding: "On the issues of non-implementation (we gave them) up to Jan. 9, the third anniversary of the deal."


The peace deal ended Africa's longest civil war, which claimed 2 million lives and drove some 4 million from their homes. The war largely pitted the Islamist government in Khartoum against mainly Christian or animist southern rebels.

Machar said that, despite having waited two days for Bashir to receive him, he was confident the problems would be resolved: "I believe the president has the political will to do this."

He declined to say what the SPLM would do if outstanding issues were not settled by Jan. 9. But he said thousands had taken to the streets in southern towns to show their support for the deal.

The NCP insists it is being implemented and blames the SPLM for delays. Observers say the international community has neglected the north-south deal, distracted by the conflict in Sudan's Darfur region.

"The extensive and compelling list of grievances articulated by the SPLM in its ... communique has long been well known to international actors, and yet pressure on Khartoum to abide by its commitments has been virtually non-existent," said Sudan expert and U.S. academic Eric Reeves.

Machar said he hoped the crisis would be resolved before Darfur peace talks begin on Oct. 27 in Libya.

Darfur rebel factions are meeting in Juba this week to try to agree a unified position, one of the main obstacles to peace.

The SPLM wields influence over the Darfur rebels, and SPLM participation in the government delegation at previous talks greatly helped mediation efforts.

Machar declined to say whether the SPLM would join the government team at the Libyan talks or send its own.

"I'm hoping it will be resolved in the next two days so that we don't have to send a separate delegation," he said.

It's Up to this Country to Avert War in Sudan

East African (Nairobi)
16 October 2007

THE CRISIS IN SOUTHERN SUDAN MUST NOT be allowed to snowball in to another armed conflict, no matter what it takes. And yet, with the Sudan People's Liberation Movement suspending its participation in the government of national unity, the return of hostilities is imminent, given that Khartoum has been reluctant to withdraw its troops from the South as per the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

The region simply put cannot afford another war. It has its hands too full with the conflagration in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, the sabre-rattling between Eritrea and Ethiopia, the rebel/government stand off in Burundi, the killer militias in Darfur to even contemplate Khartoum and the Government of Southern Sudan having a go at each other.

The wealth and power sharing components of the peace agreement, especially sharing of oil revenue, have not gone as planned, as Khartoum becomes more recalcitrant because of the possible secession of the South in the coming referendum.

Kenya, as the chair of Igad and a major stakeholder in Sudan, must step in to prevent the situation deteriorating. In the event of war breaking out again, it is Kenya that will be the loser from the inevitable influx of refugees and small arms. The country already has a lot on its hand courtesy of Somalia. Over to you, President Kibaki and special Sudanese peace envoy Daniel arap Moi.

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