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Sudan's Southern Government Withdraws From National Census


Sudan's ruling party has asked the southern regional government to reverse its decision against taking part in an important national census due this month.

The National Congress party issued its appeal after an emergency meeting led by Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir late Saturday.

The census is meant to help decide how northern and southern Sudan will share wealth and power following the end of their 21-year civil war.

Southern Sudan says the census results will favor the north unless an estimated two million displaced southerners living in the north are transported home.

Southern officials also raised the matter of the north-south border dispute, and an absence of census questions on race and religion that the south had requested.

Disagreements over troop presence, oil revenue, and other issues have strained the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended Sudan's civil war. The sides remain especially far apart on which will control the oil-rich Abyei region.

The delay in the census has raised concerns that elections scheduled for next year may not take place.

The south withdrew from a national coalition government last year, accusing northern Sudan of failing to implement key parts of the peace deal. The southern ministers later rejoined the government after the north promised to remove its troops from the south.

The United Nations estimated that the 21-year north-south conflict killed more than two million people.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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