Sudan peace talks take a break in Kenya

Dec 12 (AFP)

High-level negotiations aimed at ending a conflict in southern Sudan took a break in Kenya over the weekend after Vice President Ali Osman Taha returned to Khartoum for discussions, officials said Sunday.

Taha left for Khartoum Saturday evening "for consultations with authorities there on the remaining issues" before signing a final peace accord to end Africa's longest conflict, an official with the talks said.

Khartoum and Sudan Peoples' Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) last month pledged in a written promise to UN Security Council in Nairobi to sign the deal ending 21 years of conflict in southern Sudan by
December 31.

A government delegate told AFP that Taha will resume talks with SPLM/A leader John Garang on Tuesday in Kenya's northwestern town of Naivasha.

More than two years of intense negotiations have already delivered agreements on key issues such as sharing of power and wealth, leaving technical details on the negotiation table, crucial to reaching a final peace deal to halt Africa's bloodiest conflict.

At least 1.5 million people have been killed and over four million others displaced by the war, which erupted in 1983 when the mainly Christian and animist south took up arms to end domination by the Arabised Muslim north.