North-south Sudan talks stumble

KHARTOUM
Nov 11, 2007 (AFP)

Talks between north and south Sudan aimed at ending a festering political crisis broke down on Sunday after the two sides failed to agree on how to apply a peace deal that ended Africa's longest-running civil war.

The talks stumbled primarily on what should happen to the disputed oil-rich province of Abiye after former rebels from the Sudan People's Liberation Movement signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005, SPLM vice-president Malek Agar said.

"The six-member committee suspended its work because of differences on how to deal with disputed matters and the persistence of disagreements on the application of the CPA," Agar told journalists.

However, Agar said the joint committee's suspension of work was not "the end of dialogue" aimed at ending a crisis sparked by the southerners' walkout from the national unity government on October 11.

"The committee expects new instructions from the two presidents," Agar said, referring to President Omar al-Beshir and the south's First Vice President Salva Kiir.

The committee was set up following an initial agreement on November 3 between the SPLM and Beshir's ruling National Congress Party to seek a way out of the deadlock.

The pullout of southern ministers from the Khartoum government was the most serious blow to the peace deal since it was signed in 2005 after years of tortuous negotiations.

The accord provided for a six-year transition period in which the south would enjoy regional autonomy and participate in a national unity government in Khartoum.

In 2011, southerners will be asked to vote in a referendum on whether they want to be independent or remain part of Sudan.

 

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