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Sudan's Warring Parties Delay Signing Key Peace Agreements - 2004-05-26


Last-minute disagreements have held up the signing of a peace accord between Sudan and the southern based rebel movement.

The appointed hour for the signing ceremony passed on Wednesday with the two sides continuing to haggle over the content of the accord on political power sharing. The Kenyan foreign minister, Kalonzo Musyoka, said the accord will still be signed on Wednesday even as the talks dragged on between officials from the Sudan government and the Sudanese People's Liberation Army.

One Western diplomat at the talks said the disagreement centered on the percentage of representation the Sudanese government would have in a power sharing government in southern Sudan.

Hundreds of diplomats and other dignitaries had gathered in Naivasha to witness the signing between representatives of the SPLA and the Sudanese government. Besides working out an agreement on power sharing, the two sides aimed to settle the status of the disputed regions of the Nuba Mountains, southern Blue Nile and Abyei.

Diplomats say more negotiations will be required before comprehensive cease-fire and implementation agreements are signed. The Sudanese conflict began in 1983. An estimated two million people have died during the war, many from famine and disease. The SPLA represents the mainly Christian and Animist southerners, while the Khartoum government is controlled mainly by Muslim Arabs.

The conflict in southern Sudan is not related to the 15-month war in the western Darfur region of the country, which the United Nations has classified as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

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