Sudan deal nears on two regions

BBC News Online
23 Januarys 2004

Delegates at talks aimed at ending two decades of civil war in Sudan are said to have resolved the status of two disputed regions. Chief mediator Lazarus Sumbeiywo says both parties have agreed on the fate of Blue Nile and Nuba Mountain provinces. However, they have not yet agreed on the status of Abyei province.

The government and SPLA rebels have already signed an agreement on a 50-50 split of the country's wealth, including oil revenues. Negotiators say they are hopeful that a final peace deal can be reached during the current round of negotiations, despite reports that negotiations could be postponed on Saturday.

The BBC's Alice Muthengi said that both parties will announce details of the agreement after they conclude talks on the remaining Abyei region. Control of the three regions is a key issue at the talks led by the leader of Sudan's People Liberation Army (SPLA) and Vice President Ali Osman Taha. The two areas would enjoy "self-rule, autonomy and popular consultation", a rebel SPLA spokesman told Reuters news agency.

Darfur

Despite the peace talks, fighting in Darfur in western Sudan has intensified. The United Nations says that a further 15,000 people have fled Darfur in the past week taking the total number of refugees to have poured into neighbouring Chad since fighting resumed in recent months to 110,000.

"This is one of the biggest influxes of refugees. It is due to attacks by the Sudanese army," said Albert Katumba a protection officer with the UN refugee agency (UNHCR).

SLA rebels say they want to end alleged government discrimination in Darfur region.