Sudan says southern peace deal will be signed on time

Dec 28 (AFP)

Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir said his government is committed to signing a final peace deal with southern Sudanese rebels on time, an official newspaper reported Tuesday.

Beshir said at a summit with leaders from Yemen and Ethiopia on Monday that a comprensive agreement would be signed within the "set timeframe," Al-Anbaa reported.

Kenya has been hosting talks in Naivasha aimed at finding a comprehensive settlement to the 21-year-old war between Khartoum and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army, Africa's longest-running conflict.

The two sides had pledged in writing to the UN Security Council last month to sign the deal by December 31, when a temporary ceasefire is set to expire.

But the African Union on Monday claimed that an agreement would be signed on January 10, although this could not be confirmed.

Al-Anbaa, reporting from Naivasha, said the two sides were striving to iron out final points of disagreement.

The southern Sudan war erupted in 1983 as a freedom struggle by the mainly Christian and animist south against successive Islamic, ethnic Arab governments in Khartoum.

Since then, the conflict has killed at least 1.5 million people and displaced four million.