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South Sudan Official Fears New War if Peace Deal Deadlock Continues


Officials in South Sudan say efforts to implement key parts of a 2005 peace deal with the Sudanese government have failed and the international community must intervene. As Nick Wadhams reports from Nairobi, there are fears the new tension could lead to a resumption of Africa's longest-running conflict.

South Sudan's Ambassador to Kenya says his government wants an emergency meeting of the a group of East African nations - the Intergovernmental Authority on Development - to jumpstart the peace process.

The ambassador, John Andruga Duku, says that the government of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has refused to act on crucial parts of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, known as the CPA, which ended a 21-year civil war between the north and south.

He argues that the north, under the leadership of President Bashir's National Congress Party (NCP), is trying to rewrite parts of the CPA that both sides already agreed to. The south has become so frustrated that he fears the prospect of new violence.

"We ourselves, the parties, are not able to resolve the outstanding differences," he said. "We have a different interpretation of the status of the implementation of CPA as of now. We are in a situation which if there is no international community involvement and serious decision, the situation can get out of hand and we can go back to war. That is possible."

The civil war was fought between the largely Christian Sudan People's Liberation Army, the SPLA, in the south and the forces of the Sudanese government in the north, which is mostly Muslim. More than 1.5 million people died.

There have been several signs recently that the peace process was faltering. Earlier this month, the United Nations said the north had missed a July 9 deadline to withdraw its troops from some areas of the south. U.N. officials later said that the SPLA had also missed the deadline to withdraw all its troops.

Duku said the main sticking points had to do with the troop withdrawals, as well as determining a border and settling the fate of the Abiye region, which both sides have claimed.

"As I speak to you now, this process has totally reached a deadlock on Abiye," he said. "Because our partner, that is the NCP, they decided to go around whatever has been agreed. We go one step forward and step back two steps. So just taking people round, round, round, and that is a process that has no conclusion. On the matter of the border between north and south, they are also stonewalling the process and trying to renegotiate what has already been signed as an agreement in Kenya here."

Sudanese officials acknowledge that some parts of the peace deal have not been fulfilled but have repeatedly said that they will do their part to fulfill the CPA. They blame the south for many delays.

On Tuesday, the U.S. special envoy for Sudan, Andrew Natsios, accused Sudan's government of delaying implementation. He cited the border dispute as a major problem and said the north was also not meeting targets meant to pave the way for elections in 2009.

According to the peace deal, south Sudan gets six years of autonomy leading up to a referendum in 2011. Its people will then decide whether to secede from Sudan.