Home | News    Saturday 17 April 2004

Sudan’s vice president takes two-day break from peace talks

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NAIROBI, April 17 (Reuters) - Sudan’s first vice president has left peace talks aimed at ending Africa’s longest civil war for a two-day visit to Khartoum as mediators work on proposals for a final deal, officials said on Saturday.

First Vice President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha and rebel leader John Garang have been locked in talks over whether Islamic sharia law should be imposed in the capital Khartoum, in the Muslim north of the country.

Delegates to the talks in Kenya said both parties have requested assistance from regional mediating body IGAD, trying to bring an end to 21 years of war in the oil-exporting country.

"Vice-President Taha has gone back to Khartoum for two days. (He) has gone back to Khartoum to work on his other responsibilities," said a government official, who did not wish to be named.

"This does not mean the negotiations have stopped. Delegates from both parties are still meeting in Naivasha," the official said, referring to the Kenyan resort where talks are being held.

A spokesman for the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M) accused the government of stalling.

"The SPLM delegation will remain at the negotiating table, waiting for the vice-president to come back," spokesman Yasir Arman said.

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