Khartoum says deal with southern rebels has completed peace process

Jan 1 (AFP)

Sudanese Vice President Ali Osman Taha said on Saturday that a deal signed with rebels in the south of the country had completed the peace process to end Africa's longest-running conflict.

"The peace process has been fully completed and there is no issue that has been left unresolved," Taha said upon his return from Naivasha in Kenya where the deal was signed on Friday.

The Khartoum government and the main southern SPLM/A rebel group on Friday signed accords on two outstanding issues, paving the way for the signing of a comprehensive peace deal in Nairobi on January 9.

Taha told a crowd gathered at the headquarters of the ruling National Congress party that the deal he negotiated with rebel leader John Garang was "an open book" in which nothing was hidden and which "is open to every Sudanese to read and discuss."

Meanwhile, the opposition Popular Congress party issued a statement welcoming the Naivasha deal as an important development that would "halt the bloodshed and fighting among the sons of one country."

The party added that it looked forward to the implementation of the deal's protocols concerning human rights.

These include ending the state of emergency and guaranteeing political, trade union and press freedoms.

The Sudan war erupted in 1983 when the southern rebels rose up against Khartoum to end Arab and Muslim domination and marginalisation of the black, animist and Christian south.

The war and its effects have killed at least 1.5 million people and displaced four million others.