Sudan Rebel Group Disowns Unity Declaration

Nairobi- Kenya (PANA) -- The Sudan People's Defence Forces (SPDF) has rejected the declaration of unity between it and the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA/M) which was announced Monday in Nairobi.
In a statement made public Tuesday, the group said the agreement was signed by only two of the seven members of the SPDF Peace Committee.
It said some of the articles were not acceptable.
Meanwhile, the SPDF leadership has summoned a convention to take place in Southern Sudan on 28 June.
"The SPDF Peace Committee regrets to inform our friends and the public that the announcement on unity between SPDF and SPLM/A made this afternoon (Monday) by two members of our peace committee was premature.
"These two members were not authorised by the leadership to make the announcement as consultation within the Movement was not completed," the statement said.
The SPLM/A and SPDF led by Col.
John Garang and Dr.
Riach Machar respectively, were comrades in arms in the 12-year-old independence war against the government of Gen.
Omar el Bashir, until 1996 when they split.
They declared Monday, after they had met for three months in the Kenyan capital, that they had decided to merge again to bring about a Confederal/Federal United Secular Democratic New Sudan.
The unified movement had also endorsed the harmonisation of the political, military and administrative structures of the movement and called for the immediate cessation of hostilities in southern Sudan.
It also declared its commitment to the peace process spearheaded by IGAD (Inter-governmental Authority on Development) now being chaired by President Daniel arap Moi of Kenya, among other peace moves.
The SPDF Peace Committee said it did not approve the designation of the Movement as the "Organic unity of the two Movements under the SPLM/SPLA.
" "It is our sincere hope that this appropriate action will not be an obstacle to the continuation of peace and unity talks between the two movements which we intend to pursue honestly in order to forge a true understanding between the southern Sudanese political forces,".
Observers in the Kenyan capital had hailed the unification announcement saying it would end one of the longest and most senseless wars in Africa.
A reliable Sudanese source told PANA Tuesday in Nairobi that the pact should have been signed and announced by Garang and Machar.
Akasha Alsayed Akasha said Western countries were behind the protracted war for selfish reasons, adding that it had been turned into a huge business concern for all those involved as well as outsiders.
"It is not a war between Arabs and Africans or between Muslims and Christians.
The problem is political and should be resolved politically in such a way that all Sudanese are guaranteed equal stake in the affairs of the country," said Akasha, a Muslim and former commander in the SPLA.
The problem of Sudan featured prominently in talks with the leaders of Kenya and Uganda during US Secretary of State, Gen.
Colin Powell's African tour.
In Nairobi, Powell announced that his country would dispatch 40,000 tonnes of food to Sudan to help avert starvation in the government controlled northern part of the county.
Making the announcement after discussions with workers involved in Operation Lifeline in Nairobi, Powell declared: "Things are deteriorating fairly rapidly in the north.
On both sides of the conflict in the drought-affected areas, we do not expect people will make it until the fall.
"We announced today an additional 40,000 tonnes of food that will be distributed regardless of need on both sides of the conflict," he added.

29 may 2001 14:47:00

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