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US Envoys Optimistic About Sudan Peace Process


U.S envoys to Sudan, Constance Newman and Roger Winter say they expect Sudan's Comprehensive Peace Agreement to hold, despite the death of Vice President and former rebel leader John Garang.

The Sudanese Peace Agreement is a "done deal," says U.S. envoy to Sudan, Roger Winter. Mr. Winter and envoy Constance Newman, said Sunday they expect the agreement to hold, despite Mr. Garang's death in a helicopter crash.

Last week Sudan was shaken by rioting that erupted following his death, which triggered unsubstantiated rumors that the northern government may have been responsible. One hundred-30 people were killed in ethnic clashes between north and south Sudanese. The violence led some to question whether the peace deal that ended two decades of civil war between north and south Sudan would weather the storm.

Mr. Winter told reporters Sunday that Sudan and the international community have reasons to be optimistic, and he stressed that no changes should be made to the present agreement.

"I'm optimistic under the circumstances. The deal is done. If this had happened a few months ago with an undone deal, I think it would be a potentially much riskier circumstance. The deal is done. It's recognized internationally. It's legal. It's the deal," he said.

Mr. Garang was a charismatic leader, and a key figure in the peace process. He assumed the vice presidency one month ago and was expected to contribute to ending the humanitarian crisis in the troubled western Darfur region as well as smaller uprisings in eastern Sudan.

Ms. Newman said a lesson could be learned from Mr. Garang's passing.

"Dr. Garang had relationships with governments and with rebel groups that could have made a difference. But what we have to do, all of us now, is look for other ways to get to the governments that influence rebel groups, get to the rebel groups," she said. "There is always a danger in the world of depending on one person. We always need to relieve that one person of having the sole responsibility of saving us all."

Both U.S. envoys expressed faith in the leadership abilities of Mr. Garang's successor, Salva Kiir Mayardit.

Mr. Mayardit's agenda differs from Mr. Garang's on at least one key issue. As part of the peace deal, in six years, southern Sudanese will vote on whether to remain united with northern Sudan or to secede and form its own nation. Mr. Mayardit has been known advance a separatist agenda, while Mr. Garang wanted a unified Sudan. Mr. Winter said the Sudanese government will have to work hard to keep the nation unified.

"If they want to see a unified state of Sudan, if they really want it to happen, they've got a major psychological and political obstacle to overcome, which is the sentiments of much of the population now. That means responsive government, it means justice," said Mr. Winter. "It means a whole package of things, including development that enable people to see that peace is worth it."

At the request of the Ugandan government, the United States will provide material support for the investigation into Mr. Garang's death, but the U.S. government will not be involved in the investigation itself. The Sudanese government will conduct the inquiry, which has been called a formality by the Sudanese Government and by Garang's Party, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement.

Mr. Mayardit is expected to be inaugurated in a small, subdued ceremony on Tuesday, in marked contrast to Mr. Garang's lavish celebration one month ago.

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