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Sudan's Vice President Discusses Peace Accord, Secession and Darfur

Sudan's First Vice President Salva Kiir Mayardit says the people of his country are enjoying peace, even though a landmark accord signed earlier this year has not been fully implemented.

In an interview on the VOA program Straight Talk Africa, Mr. Kiir said Sudan's newly created unity government continues to discuss how to implement a complex power-sharing agreement.

For more than two decades, rebels fought the Muslim-dominated government in Khartoum, seeking religious and economic freedom for Sudan's Christian and animist south. The landmark accord, signed in January, created a new administration and allowed the south to hold a referendum on independence in six years.

Mr. Kiir made no prediction about the outcome of such a vote. He told VOA the top priority of the peace process is unity.

The vice president said the situation in Sudan's western Darfur region remains serious. But he predicted the next round of peace talks, set for later this month, will produce a breakthrough.

Mr. Kiir took over as head of the southern rebel movement last August, following the death of longtime leader John Garang in a helicopter crash. In the interview, he thanked the United States for mediating talks that led up to January's historic accords, and for giving humanitarian assistance to southerners during the long conflict.