Sudan government and SPLM sign deal
NAIVASHA (Kenya): Amid singing and cries of joy, Sudan’s government and southern rebels signed the final chapters of a peace deal on Friday, paving the way for a comprehensive accord ending Africa’s longest-running civil war.
Delegates from the government and rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) signed the last two of eight peace protocols that together make up an overall accord ending 21 years of war in the oil-producing south, witnesses said.
“The war in the south is over,” Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir told a ceremony in the Kenyan town of Naivasha that was also attended by South African President Thabo Mbeki. “Our happiness will not be complete unless we solve the problem of Darfur,” Bashir added, referring to a separate and worsening war in the western region of Africa’s biggest country.
Mediators said a ceremony had tentatively been set for January 9 in Nairobi where both principal negotiators — SPLM leader John Garang and Sudanese First Vice President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha — are due to sign the eight deals agreed by their staff in two years of talks. .
In the capital Khartoum, southern Sudanese thronged one of the main streets where a screen had been erected to show live televised pictures of the signing. Some held placards with the name of the SPLM, others chanted “New Sudan” or “John Garang.” “I am so happy with signing of peace. We expect Sudan will become better. Now, Sudanese have the right to live in any place they want inside Sudan,” said Tom Okween, a 38-year-old hotel worker, who like many others had come to work in the capital. Ahmed Abdel-Hamid Awad, a 33-year-old journalist from the north, was also enjoying the moment. “Maybe the Naivasha agreement will be the beginning of the solution in Darfur and in the rest of the regions of Sudan,” he said.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan welcomed the accord and said the official signing of the peace deal would “...usher in a new era of peace in Sudan, in which the United Nations is prepared to play a significant role,” chief UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said in New York. reuters