Friday, November 19, 2004

 

Peace agreement signed in Sudan

We'll see if this actually holds, which in my experience, peace agreements rarely lead to anything other than bloodier fighting. Still, you have to hope.

Sudan Foes Sign Peace Pledge at Security Council
World - Reuters
By Evelyn Leopold

NAIROBI, Kenya (Reuters) - Sudan's government and its southern rebel foes signed a pledge at the U.N. Security Council Friday to end Africa's longest running civil war by December 31.

With the council's ambassadors as witnesses, a Sudanese government official and a negotiator from the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement signed a document pledging to sign a final pact by December 31 to end 21 years of war in the oil-producing south of Africa's biggest country.

After the signing ceremony, the Security Council, meeting away from New York for the first time in 14 years, unanimously adopted a resolution promising political and economic support once Sudan was at peace.

The southern civil war has killed an estimated two million people, mostly from famine and disease, since 1983 when Khartoum tried to imposed Islamic sharia law on the mainly animist and partly Christian south. Oil and ideology have complicated the conflict.

The resolution also said the council would monitor abuses in a separate war in the troubled western Darfur region and take action against any party failing to fulfill its commitments.

The memorandum signed by the government and SPLM said: "The parties declare their commitment to expeditiously complete negotiations... so as to conclude and sign the comprehensive peace agreement no later than 31 December, 2004.

"The parties recommend themselves to finalize and conclude a comprehensive peace agreement in recognition that prompt completion of the peace process is essential for all the people of the Sudan as it will help in resolving all challenges facing the country."

All 15 ambassadors of the world's top security body then signed the document in alphabetical order, starting with Algerian Ambassador Abdallah Baali and ending with U.S. Ambassador John Danforth, this month's council president, who initiated the meeting in the Kenyan capital.

CONFLICT ON MANY FRONTS

Sudan faces conflict on many fronts -- mainly in the south where rebels have been fighting the government since 1983, when Khartoum tried to impose Islamic law on the entire country, but also in Darfur in the west, where violence that erupted nearly two years ago has led to a profound humanitarian crisis.

The council's visit to Nairobi was only the fourth time the council had left New York since 1952, the year the United Nations moved into its permanent Manhattan headquarters.

Danforth initiated the trip to the Kenyan capital, arguing that direct talks with northern and southern leaders would send a message that the world is watching and that peace would earn substantial development aid.

The resolution asks the United Nations, the World Bank and others to devise a long-term development plan, including possible debt relief, for the northeast African county, rich in oil but impoverished, once there is peace.

It tells Sudan that preliminary accords negotiated in Kenya in June should be part of the final peace. They call for a coalition government, an integrated military and a sharing of oil revenues. The south can vote on secession in six years.

Sudanese Vice President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha and SPLM leader John Garang addressed the first day of the two-day special U.N. session Thursday but had their deputies sign the memorandum, saving their signatures for the final accord.

Taha said long-term plans would require $1.8 billion in aid over three years. Britain, the former colonial power, has pledged some $180 million but diplomats doubted any package would reach $1 billion. Although the council has threatened sanctions against Sudan in previous resolutions, Russia, China, Algeria and Pakistan are wary of imposing them.

On Darfur, the council negotiated language until the last minute, starting in New York, continuing on a U.S. air force flight to Nairobi and arguing while munching hamburgers in a military canteen during a refueling stop in Spain.

More than 1.5 million Darfur people, mainly African villagers, have been left homeless by rampaging Janjaweed Arab militia and Sudanese security forces. Thousands have been killed. Khartoum has denied backing the Janjaweed, but has been slow to respond to the humanitarian crisis.

Yahoo! News - Sudan Foes Sign Peace Pledge at Security Council

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