Peace talks resume in Kenya

Nairobi,
12 May (IRIN)

Talks aimed at ending Sudan's long-running civil war resumed in the Kenyan town of Machakos on Saturday, with the signing of a partnership agreement on administrative arrangements for a transitional period.

The accord, signed by the Sudanese government and rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) outlined specific measures necessary for building up the humanitarian, security and development needs of southern
Sudan during the first six months of the transitional period.

Both sides have expressed confidence that the current round of talks - facilitated by the regional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) - can bring about a final agreement to end the 20-year war, in
which an estimated two million people have been killed and four million displaced.

SPLM/A chief negotiator Nhial Deng Nhial told the opening session that his movement supported the new "holistic" approach taken by the mediators.

The remaining sticking points revolve around the issues of power and wealth sharing, security arrangements, and the fate of three areas - Abyei, Nuba Mountains and the Funj Region - which although geographically situated in the north, have always identified with the southern struggle.

"It is our hope that this session of negotiations will truly rekindle the spirit of the Machakos Protocol [signed July 2002] so that the parties negotiate with seriousness and commitment to resolve this long and intractable conflict," Nhial said.

Khartoum also has reiterated its commitment to achieving a comprehensive peaceful end to the conflict. Presidential Peace Advisor Ghazi Salah El Din Atabani confirmed that the Sudanese government was keen to realise
"comprehensive peace, development and services for all parts of the country", 'Al Ayam' Arabic daily said.