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Sudanese Parliament Ratifies North-South Peace Agreement


Sudan's parliament has unanimously ratified the peace agreement with the main southern rebel group that was signed last month.

After three days of debate, the 300 National Assembly members showed their support for the peace agreement that the Sudanese government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement concluded January 9, ending 21 years of war between them.

According to media reports, legislators shouted "Allahu Akhbar," or God is great, as they ratified the agreement.

Last week, the legislative body of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement ratified the agreement in Rumbek, south Sudan.

A committee is to be formed to draft a provisional constitution for a six-year interim period, after which southerners would be able to vote in a referendum whether or not to stay in Sudan.

The leader of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, John Garang, is set to become the country's first vice president and will head a southern administration during the transition period.

The war has claimed an estimated two million lives and displaced many more since its inception in 1983.

The conflict pitted a largely Muslim north against a Christian and animist south. The fighting also centered on oil-rich areas in the south where local populations had been forcibly removed to get to the oil.

The peace agreement contains a number of protocols that spell out how the north and south are to share wealth and power, how they will manage their armies jointly and separately, the balance between state and religion, and other arrangements.

It followed more than two years of often-rocky negotiations in Kenya.