Home | News    Monday 14 July 2003

Beshir warns mediators to "go to hell" if they insist on Sudan peace draft

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KHARTOUM, July 14 (AFP) — Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir defended Islamic law and told Kenyan-based mediators they can "go to hell" if they insist on pushing a draft peace settlement rejected by his negotiators.

Beshir was giving his first reaction to a draft that mediators from the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) presented at the latest round of negotiations with southern rebels in Kenya that ended Saturday.

During a speech to farmers south of here, Beshir told the mediators to "come up with a reasonable alternative, otherwise they have to dissolve the document in water and drink it", state-run Omdurman Radio reported.

If the mediators insisted on the draft, "let IGAD and those behind it go to hell", Beshir said.

It was not clear if Beshir was using such strong language to counter possible pressure from Islamists in his government, appeal to constituents, or improve Khartoum’s stance when peace talks resume later this month.

His speech at Nur al-Dinn, about 150 kilometers (90 miles) south of here, was laced with references to Islamic (Sharia) law and how Sudanese government troops had fought a 20-year war to defend Islam.

The president stressed that his government "is committed to peace but not to surrender", according to the radio.

One of the bones of contention at the Kenya talks has been the government’s refusal to suspend Islamic law in the capital Khartoum during the transition period when mediators had proposed that the city serve as the joint capital.

The government also rejected a proposal to carve out an area of Khartoum and designate it the joint capital, according to the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).

Islamic law applies in all government-controlled regions of Sudan.

The spokesman for Sudan’s negotiating team, Sayyed al-Khateib, told the official Al-Anbaa newspaper that the status of Khartoum and other issues were the main stumbling-blocks.

Khateib said the draft settlement his delegation rejected on Saturday contradicted the so-called Machakos Protocol signed a year ago in Kenya that provided for a united Sudan during a six-year transition period.

The IGAD draft "played down this unity and appeared to almost remove any link between the south and the federal government (in Khartoum)", he said.

He said the draft made the south "a monopoly of the (rebel) movement, excluding other southern political forces from power".

Khateib said this and a proposed formation of a council of ministers "will make the south almost a separate entity without any relationship with the federal government".

Though he conceded the word "secularism" was not mentioned in the text, "what was proposed in it about the national capital renders the Machakos Protocol meaningless", he said.

Asked whether a date could be set for signing a peace agreement, Khateib replied: "The negotiation is a process that may get protracted and therefore we cannot say that August or September will be the final date."

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, the chief Kenyan mediator General Lazaro Sumbeiywo and Beshir have all previously expressed hope a settlement could be struck by August.

Talks with the SPLA are scheduled to resume in the western Kenyan town of Nakuru on July 23.

Meanwhile, Riak Quai, vice president of Sudan’s ruling National Congress party, asked Arab League chief Amr Mussa to urge IGAD to withdraw its draft peace accord.

IGAD, which is backed by the United States, has long overshadowed any Arab attempts to mediate an end to the war in Sudan.

The SPLA has been fighting since 1983 to end domination of the mainly Christian and animist south by the Arab Muslim government in Khartoum.

The conflict in Africa’s largest country has cost an estimated 1.5 million lives and displaced about four million people.

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  • 3 August 2013 18:34, by simon yel

    Bashir is just threatening people .

    repondre message

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