Sudan foes near accord on Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile: reports

May 11 (AFP)

The Sudanese government and southern rebels are close to a power-sharing agreement covering the Nuba Mountains and the southern stretch of the Blue Nile which could open the way to a peace accord, reports said Tuesday.

According to the independent al-Sahafa, envoys of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) have accepted a Khartoum proposal under which the post of governor of each of the two regions will first be held by a government appointee for 18 months and then by an SPLA nominee for the following 18 months.

The two districts are in central Sudan but the SPLA maintains it represents the people living there.

On the other hand, the southern rebels have rejected a government offer to share government positions in the two regions on a 60-40 percent basis, favouring the government. The SPLA says the share should be 50-50.

The independent daily Al-Rai al-Aaam said "relative progress had been made in Monday's negotiations" and that "an agreement is close".

The two sides agreed recently that sharia, or Islamic law, should be applied in Khartoum but that non-Muslims should be exempt.

The status of the capital had been a major obstacle to signing a peace deal.

Sudan's civil war started in 1983 and the conflict, marked by famine and epidemics, has resulted in the death of 1.5 million people.