Jan 08, 2004 (M2 PRESSWIRE) — Minister of International Development Hilde F. Johnson attended the signing of an agreement on wealth-sharing in Naivasha, Kenya, on Wednesday, which will be part of the final peace agreement between the Sudanese Government and the SPLM.
She also had talks with the leaders of the negotiations, First Vice President Ali Osman Taha and SPLM leader John Garang, during which she congratulated them on the agreement and discussed outstanding issues.
"I have told the two men that the Norwegian Government is very pleased with the agreement. This is a significant step towards a final peace agreement. The negotiations will now enter the final stage," said Ms Johnson.
"I am pleased that both leaders confirmed that they will immediately continue negotiations on the outstanding issues.
There is good reason to hope that a framework agreement will be signed in the near future. I also stressed that I was seriously concerned about the situation in Darfur in western Sudan, and encouraged them to help achieve a ceasefire and access for humanitarian supplies to the many refugees in the area," said the Minister.
On 25 September 2003 the parties signed an agreement concerning the military issues. The next step will be to settle the questions of power-sharing and the status of the three disputed areas the Abyei, the Nuba Mountains and the Southern Blue Nile. With that a general framework agreement will be in place. Before a final peace agreement can be signed, the parties must also reach agreement on the ceasefire arrangements and other issues regarding the implementation of the peace agreement.
"Norway will support the implementation of a peace agreement.
Together with Italy, Norway co-chaired a meeting of the donor group IGAD Partners Forum in Nairobi on 15 December, which was attended by the parties and representatives of the UN, the World Bank and major donor countries. It was agreed at the meeting that the World Bank and the UN should be responsible for identifying Sudans assistance needs in connection with a donor-country conference to be held in Norway," said the minister.
The current round of peace negotiations on Sudan has been going on since May 2002, facilitated by the regional organisation the Intergovernmental Authority on Development.
The negotiations have been led by Kenyan general Lazarus Sumbeiywoo and envoys from Uganda, Eritrea and Ethiopia.
Norway has participated in the negotiations as an observer, together with the USA, the UK, Italy, the UN and the OAU.
Norway has been providing humanitarian assistance to Sudan for a long time, both through Norwegian NGOs and through international organisations. This year the total amount allocated will be approximately NOK 200 million. Norway is also contributing personnel and financial resources to the Joint Monitoring Commission, which is monitoring the ceasefire agreement in the Nuba Mountains in Sudan. The JMC is headed by Brigadier Jan Erik Wilhelmsen. Norway is also supporting the Verification and Monitoring Team established to monitor the implementation of the MoU on the temporary cessation of hostilities, which is headed by Kenya.
A peace agreement in Sudan will make great demands on the international community in terms of assistance with reconstruction, demobilisation, mine clearance and the establishment of civil institutions. Norway is already providing financial support to preparatory measures under the auspices of the UN and the World Bank, and is co-operating with the USA, the UK, Italy, the EU, the UN and the World Bank on preparations for large-scale assistance. These efforts will now be intensified in connection with a donor conference to be hosted by Norway.