NAIVASHA, Kenya, Sept 11 (AFP) — A team of experts on wealth-sharing arrived in Naivasha on Thursday to reinforce the Sudanese government delegation in peace negotiations with southern rebels aimed at ending a 20-year-old civil war, an official said.
"More delegates from Khartoum, who are experts on wealth-sharing, arrived in Naivasha on Thursday to reinforce the government side," Sudanese charge d’affaires Ahmed Dirdeiry told AFP.
On Wednesday, Sudan’s Defence Minister Major General Bakri Hassan Saleh and several top generals also joined the Khartoum team headed by Vice President Osman Ali Taha, currently negotiating with the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) leader John Garang to unlock the deadlock that has prevented a peace settlement of Africa’s longest civil war.
Saleh’s arrival came as Taha and Garang, who have been meeting at this Kenyan Rift Valley town 80 kilometres (50 miles) northwest of Nairobi since Thursday last week, were haggling over security arrangements during a six-year interim period of self-rule for the south, which will be effected when a comprehensive peace accord is signed.
The thorny issue with regard to the security arrangements is Khartoum’s opposition to a clause in a draft deal drawn up by mediators of the regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) providing for a separate army for the south, under Garang’s leadership.
Khartoum has argued that the clause paves the way for the south’s immediate secession.
Taha and Garang have also been negotiating how to share power and resources, particularly oil revenues, during the interim period of self-rule for the south provided for in an accord signed in July 2002.
The two sides are also wrangling over three disputed areas — the Southern Blue Nile State, Abyei, and the Nuba Mountains in the centre of the country — where the SPLA is active, despite the areas not being geographically in the south.
The 20-year-old conflict between the Muslim-dominated regime in Khartoum and the mainly Christian or animist SPLA is estimated to have killed at least 1.5 million people and displaced another four million.