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Sudan Peace Talks  Resume in Kenya - 2003-12-05

Sudanese First Vice President Ali Osman Taha and rebel leader John Garang are expected to resume their peace talks in Kenya Saturday.

Officials from the Sudan government and the Sudan People's Liberation Army have been preparing all week for their meeting. The two began their face-to-face negotiations in October, but broke off for the Muslim holiday of Ramadan.

Still to be worked out are details of powersharing, security arrangements and jurisdictional disputes over the Nuba Mountains, Southern Blue Nile and Abyei.

Kenyan mediator retired General Lazaro Sumbeiywo said the two sides are close to reaching a peace deal, and are expected to wrap up the talks by early January.

The two sides have been talking for more than a year in Kenya, in an effort to end Sudan's 20-year civil war, which has claimed as many as two million lives.

An analyst with the International Crisis Group, David Mozersky, said the governance of the three disputed areas will be particularly difficult for the two sides to work out. But he said the parties, pressed by the international community, are well on their way to reaching an agreement.

"There is momentum, said Mr. Mozersky. "There is greater international pressure to reach a deal - and not only pressure, but incentive - than there ever has been before. These are all positive factors that are eventually going to push them towards the final peace agreement that they will finally reach."

In the meantime, the spokesman for a Sudanese non-government organization network, Suzanne Jambo, told reporters her 34-member organization is watching this latest round of talks closely.

Ms. Jambo said her group is calling for a South African-style truth and reconciliation commission to help Sudan live with its violent past. "If you talk to an average person in south Sudan - whether they're inside south Sudan, whether they're in Kenya, in East Africa or the world at large," she said, "they have a lot of pains and a lot of grudges and a lot of hatred that need to be dealt with."

Ms. Jambo said a truth and reconciliation commission would help all Sudanese to come to grips with the suffering they have inflicted on one another.