Bashir accuses Garang of waffling on certain questions

Nov 1 (AFP)

Sudan's president accused the leader of southern rebel forces in his country of waffling on questions holding up their peace accord in an interview published Saturday by an Egyptian daily.

"(John) Garang has gone back on questions which were settled by the Machakos accord (in July 2002), such as the creation of a central bank for southern Sudan, of a currency only for the south, and of a defense ministry, all of which would pave the way to secession and we refuse that," General Omar Beshir told al-Ahram.

"Why this procrastination, why these obstacles?" the president wondered.

However Beshir added that "the negotiations have covered most of the ground, and despite the problems, we expect to rapidly reach a peace accord."

The Sudanese peace negotiations are scheduled to restart November 30 after Ramadan in Kenya with both parties saying they expect to sign a comprehensive peace accord by the end of this year.

Khartoum and the Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA), the southern rebel movement led by Garang, signed in July 2002 the Machakos accord, allowing for a period of autonomy of six years for the south at which point a referendum on self-determination would be organized.

Beshir said three questions still need hashing out before signing the accord -- power sharing, resource sharing and the status of three contested regions in the center of the country, Abyei, the Nuba Mountains and the southern Blue Nile.

"Garang said that the inhabitants of these three regions supported him during the fighting and want to link up with him, but this is false because these regions are part of northern Sudan and Arab tribes live there", the president said.

"Besides, the SPLA has no presence in those regions."

Sudan's civil war erupted in 1983 when the SPLA took up arms against Khartoum to end domination of the mainly Christian and animist south by the Arabized, Muslim north.