Government and rebels to meet in Kenya next week to discuss three areas in central Sudan

Feb 24, 2003 (AP)

Sudanese government and southern rebel officials will meet in Kenya next week to discuss three disputed areas in central Sudan, the Kenyan peace envoy to Sudan was quoted Monday as saying.

Lt. Gen. Lazaro Sumbeiywo was quoted by the official Sudanese News Agency as saying the government and the rebels will discuss the Abyei area of West Kordofan, the Nuba Mountains area of Southern Kordofan and the Angasana of Blue Nile province.

Kenya is hosting talks on the three areas separately to another round of negotiations that are being brokered by the regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development.

Sudan says the IGAD talks can only deal with southern Sudan, a region where civil war has raged since 1983. Khartoum says other areas, including Abyei, Nuba and Angasana, must be dealt with separately from the IGAD process.

Another round of peace negotiations between both sides will follow on March 22 in Kenya, SUNA reported.

The rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army took up arms against the Khartoum-based Islamic-oriented government in 1983 seeking greater autonomy for predominantly animist and Christian people living in southern Sudan. More than 2 million people have died in fighting and related famine.

The SPLA and Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir's government signed a cease-fire in October, which both sides have previously accused the other of violating the cease-fire.

In July, both sides also signed a protocol providing for the separation of state and religion in southern Sudan, and a referendum on self-determination for the south in six years.

Sumbeiywo - who also heads the IGAD mediation team- expressed hope Monday that the negotiations would reach conclusion by June, SUNA reported.

The Kenyan envoy arrived in Khartoum late Saturday and held talks with Sudan's top peace adviser, Ghazi Salah Eddin Atabani, and top officials representing Sudan's southern states and the Foreign Ministry. He is expected to leave Wednesday.