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Sudan Briefs Egyptian President on Civil War - 2002-07-28

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has been briefed by a top Sudanese official on efforts to end Sudan's 19 year civil war. Egypt is concerned about a tentative agreement that would allow southern Sudan the right to eventually form its own state.

Egypt has a keen interest in the ongoing peace process aimed at ending Sudan's civil war. Egypt is heavily dependent on water from the Nile, which it shares with Sudan and other neighboring African states. It is the issue of water that has Egypt seriously concerned about a proposed peace deal that would offer southern Sudan the option to secede from the north in the next six years.

The war in Sudan pits the mostly Islamic government in the north against rebels seeking greater autonomy and the right to form their own state in the largely Christian south. As many as two million people have died as a result of the war in Sudan.

Political analysts in the region have said Egypt wants to avoid the creation of another country, which could demand a share of the Nile's water. Political leaders in Sudan have been urging Egypt to stand with the government to help preserve Sudan's unity.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak met in Cairo with Sudanese First Vice President Ali Osman Taha for a briefing on the evolving peace process.

Four main issues remain to be resolved, according to Mr. Taha: power sharing, oil well sharing in the southern oilfields, human rights and a cease-fire.

The government had vowed to create an Islamic state after seizing power in 1989. But under a framework agreement endorsed by both sides, the Sudanese constitution would be rewritten to ensure that while Islamic law can be applied in the north, it would not infringe on the rights of non-Muslims in the south.

It was also agreed that six years after a full peace agreement was signed, the south would be allowed to vote on whether to remain part of the country.

Mr. Taha stressed the government would "work hard" to make Sudanese unity more attractive to southerners.