Sudanese want just and lasting peace, mediator says

4 July (IRIN)

On the eve of what may be the last stage in the Sudanese peace talks, due to begin on Sunday, people all over Sudan are ready and waiting for "a just and lasting peace", the chief mediator in the peace process, Lazarus Sumbeiywo, told reporters in Nairobi.

A 10-day trip to government and rebel-held areas in both northern and southern Sudan - which included visists to Khartoum, Malakal, Bentiu, Juba, Kurmuk, Malualkon, Yei, Ikotos, and Rumbek - allowed him to speak to
a wide range of people and to "confirm that the people themselves want peace", he said.

"They are tired of war, tired of death and destruction. They want to return to their homes and villages. They're tired of living in camps for displaced," he said.

It is hoped that the peace talks, which begin in the Kenyan town of Nakuru on Sunday and are due to last for seven days, will lead to a final Draft Framework Agreement by mid-August.

In order to achieve peace, both sides needed to work together to change "the mentality of war mongering and negative slogans", said Sumbeiywo.

Despite people's enthusiasm for an agreement, Sumbeiywo said he found it striking that that they didn't "seem to have a grasp of the details of what is coming, of what is being negotiated for them".

Several key issues reportedly need to be resolved during the next stage of talks, including the makeup of the armed forces, the religious status of Khartoum, the precise details of wealth sharing, the percentage of
southerners in national institutions and power-sharing arrangements, including the presidency and vice-presidency.

Separate talks, chaired by the Kenyan government, will take place concurrently on the disputed areas of Southern Blue Nile, Abyei and the Nuba mountains, the results of which will have to be worked into a final
national agreement.