Britain joins the search for peace in Sudan

Khartoum- Sudan (PANA) -- Britain says it is seeking a leading role in ending 18 years of fighting in Sudan, Khartoum press reports Saturday quoted the Ambassador Richard Makepeace saying.
"The international community is right now well prepared to exert effort to towards the realisation of peace in Sudan," Makepeace said, noting that "the regional situation is also more encouraging than what it was two years ago".
He said his country hoped to see more coordination between Libya and Egypt on the one hand, the East African Inter- government Authority for Development (IGAD) on the other hand to restore peace in Sudan.
Makepeace said Britain was encouraging IGAD member states to discuss with Libya and Egypt the possibility of a joint forum for peace in Sudan.
Meanwhile the government in Khartoum has expressed disquiet at the conduct of the rebel Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement and Army (SPLM/A) during the peace talks within IGAD.
At a press conference last Friday presidential adviser Ghazi Atabani said the talks were inconclusive because the SPLM/A was not committed to the agenda.
"During all previous rounds of peace talks, the SPLM/A had continuously ignored important issues on the agenda such as the relation between religion and the State and the devolution of power," Atabani charged.
He said the SPLM/A kept rushing to the issue of self- determination, which is way at the bottom of the IGAD Declaration of Principles (DOP).
"The IGAD mediators had stipulated in the DOP that the warring parties should consider the issue of granting the South the right to self-determination in case they do not reach constitutional agreement," Atabani explained.
He said in the light of these circumstances the government had decided to reconsider its position towards the IGAD talks.
"The coming round of talks would be a water-shed," he said, warning that "either the SPLM/A sticks to the agenda of the talks or the government reconsiders its position towards the talks".
The SPLM/A started a bush war against the Khartoum government in March 1983 after former president Ga'afar el Nimeiri divided the South into three administrative units instead of one.
Nimeri said he was responding to requests by smaller ethnic groups who feared the domination of the Dinka tribe that won a majority in the South Parliament.
Angered by the move, Dinka elements in the national army took to the jungle and started the war.
A few weeks later the rebels called John Garang, a Dinka and army colonel, to join them, which he did, forming the SPLM/A and later issuing a manifesto vocally expressing the intention to launch a socialist state in a unified Sudan.
This won SPLM/A the support of socialists in the region, including former Ethiopian dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam, who provided the movement with arms and training support.
In September the same year, Nimeri declared the application of Sharia'a laws in Sudan, thus compounding the situation and causing an escalation of hostilities.
In 1991 the government of President Omar el Bashir introduced a legal amendment that exempted the mainly animist South from Sharia'a law.
But this did not satisfy the SPLM, which argues that the enforcement of two laws in one and the same country bespeaks division.

06 october 2001 13:00:00

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