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Historic Peace Deal in Sudan

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Section: International News Geography: Africa sudan Topics: civil war, oil

January 12, 2005

Historic Peace Deal in Sudan

by Nathan Lepp

Africa's longest running civil war - extending back 21 years with 2 million dead and 4 million displaced - ended on Sunday following a comprehensive peace agreement reached in Nairobi when southern rebel leader John Garang and First Vice President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha signed a peace accord two years in the making.

Included in the accord is an agreement to grant the South its own regional government, the sharing of oil revenues, and military integration. Also included is the right of the South to vote for secession at the end of a six-year interim period. To the dismay of many, however, senior members of the Sudanese government will not be held accountable for human rights abuses committed in the rebel-held areas.

US interest in the conflict has been high as Sudan is listed as a state sponsor of terrorism. The South is also home to significant oil reserves that bring the Sudanese government $4 billion each year. President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, following the signing of the agreement said, "What was spent on fighting will now be spent on health, education and other services."

Along with the 4 million people displaced internally within the Sudan, observers expect that more than half a million refugees in neighbouring countries will return to their homes. The resettlement effort will require significant resources and coordination, and it is hoped that it will take place gradually.

Diplomatic pressure on the Sudanese government will remain strong as the civil war in the western Darfur region continues unabated with more than 1.6 million Darfuris displaced and an estimated 70,000 killed since last March. While it is hoped that the North-South deal may prove to be a model for Darfur, warnings of escalating violence from both the UN and US Secretary of State Colin Powell cast a shadow over the Sudanese government's statements of goodwill. Observers remain hesitant even about Sunday's agreement, warning that implementing the agreement peacefully will take a great deal of negotiation and a policy turnaround on the part of the Khartoum government.

» Reuters: Sudan, southern rebels end 21-year war

» BBC: UN warning over Darfur violence

» The Guardian: No justice for Sudan

» Reuters: Powell says genocidal acts continuing in Darfur

» Christian Science Monitor: Day for peace in a splintered Sudan

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