Khartoum and SPLA agree to draft post-peace interim constitution

Dec 25 (AFP)

Sudanese officials and southern rebels agreed to form a committee to draft an interim constitution, as both sides scrambled to reach a settlement to their 21-year-old conflict by year's end, a press report said Saturday.

Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) chief John Garang and Vice President Ali Osman Taha agreed to set up 60-member committee tasked with drafting an interim constitution after a comprehensive peace deal is reached, the Al-Rai al-Aam daily reported.

Quoting government sources close to the negotiations in the Kenyan town of Naivasha, the newspaper said the committee would also discuss other provisions for the six-year interim period leading up to self-determination.

Among the issues still being discussed by the two sides ahead of a peace deal is that of financing for the SPLA and other rebel groups in southern Sudan, said Deng Alor, a negotiator for the movement's political wing.

More than two years of intense negotiations have already delivered agreements on key issues such as power- and wealth-sharing, but technical details still have to be ironed out before a final deal is clinched.

War erupted in southern Sudan in 1983 as a freedom struggle by the mainly Christian and animist south against successive Islamic governments in Khartoum. Since then, the conflict has killed at least 1.5 million people and displaced four million others.