Peace talks resume in Kenya

18 February (IRIN)

A possible final round of Sudanese talks resumed in Kenya on Tuesday, with both warring parties reaffirming their commitment to signing a peace peace deal to end the country's 20-year civil war.

The talks, facilitated by the regional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), are widely expected to lead to the signing of the final peace agreement between the government and the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A).

On Wednesday, IGAD facilitators were still carrying out consultative meetings with the parties in order to draw up the agenda for the negotiations, Samson Kwaje, the SPLM/A spokesman, told IRIN.

The talks, which had made substantial progress in the areas of wealth-sharing and security arrangements during a six-year transitional period to follow the signing of a final accord, were adjourned in early February at the request of the government delegation to enable its members to travel to Mecca to perform the Islamic pilgrimage of Hajj.

The two pending issues are of power-sharing and the status of three disputed regions, namely Abyei, Nuba Mountains and southern Blue Nile during the transition.

Sa'id Khatib, the official government spokesman, said this round of talks was "of great importance", because it would iron out the remaining issues
before the final agreement. He said the current round would last until 16 March, by which time, it was hoped, a final agreement would have been
reached, he was quoted as saying by the Sudan News Agency, Suna.

The outstanding issues are expected to be resolved during direct negotiations between First Vice-President Ali Uthman Muhammad Taha and
SPLM/A Chairman John Garang, both of whom arrived for the talks in Naivasha on Tuesday.