Mediators at Sudan Peace Talks Say 2 Sides at Odds

Voice Of America
10 Apr 2004

Mediators at peace talks between Sudan's government and southern rebels say the two sides are at odds over whether the capital should be subject to Islamic or secular law.
The mediators at the talks in the Kenyan city of Naivasha say they had expected the parties to sign a framework agreement on all outstanding issues this weekend. But they say the disagreement over which law should govern the capital, Khartoum, will make that unlikely.

Sudan's Foreign Minister, Mustafa Osman Ismail, says he still believes an agreement will be reached within a matter of days, rather than weeks.

The government wants Khartoum to be under Islamic law, known as Sharia, while rebels from the southern-based Sudan People's Liberation Army want non-Muslims to be exempt from the law.

The issue is one of several that is blocking a final deal to end more than 20 years of civil war.

Earlier this week, the acting U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Charles Snyder, voiced frustration over the slow pace of the negotiations during a visit to Kenya.