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Southern Sudanese Government Hails Call for Lifting Sanctions

The Southern Sudanese government has welcomed calls by U.S special envoy Scott Gration for a partial lifting of sanctions against Sudan.

Gration said specific restrictions should be lifted to help develop the Southern Sudanese region.

The region is still recovering from 22 years of civil war between the north and south, which left tens of thousands dead and destroyed infrastructure.

Gration adds that the restrictions on the north-led government "have spilled over" into the region impeding the Southern governments development efforts.

Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, head of Southern Sudan's mission to the United States, told VOA that his government is determined to improve the lives of its peoples.

"If there are some sanctions that are seen to be hindering developments in the South, then they can be lifted because that was the intention of the U.S Congress. To exempt Southern Sudan from the sanctions so that the development can be taken," Gatkuoth said.

He said his government is against lifting sanctions that would bolster the position of its northern partners.

"We will not welcome any sanctions (being lifted) that will benefit the National Congress Party because they will abuse it and they will use it to embolden themselves and entrench themselves so that they can continue to operate and marginalize all the marginalized people in Sudan," he said.

Gatkuoth denied his government has been unfairly accusing its northern partners.

"You know the history of the National Congress Party is known to any Sudanese. What they always do is sign an agreement with any political party or any movement and then when you have an agreement with them, the intention for them is to continue to use that agreement as a tool to empower themselves, (but) not to change the system," Gatkuoth said.

He said the south feels the need to rebuild Sudan as a whole.

"As of now, we need to fix Sudan. Sudan is a mess and this is why the SPLM (Sudan's People Liberation Movement) is calling for a new Sudan. We need to fix it," he said.

Gatkuoth said there were indications that Washington would lift some sanctions.

"The U.S committed themselves to lift the sanctions, but what happened after the agreement? Darfur broke out; they continued to do killings in Darfur. Then how do you expect the sanctions to be lifted if they are continuing to kill our people in Darfur? Gatkuoth asked.

Meanwhile, Special Envoy Scott Gration is scheduled to travel to Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa Friday to witness ongoing talks between Darfur rebels aimed at finding a lasting solution to the six-year war in the restive Darfur region.