Home | News    Saturday 18 June 2005

Sudan’s Beshir hopeful opposition deal will bolster Darfur talks

CAIRO, June 18 (AFP) — Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir said he was optimistic a deal signed Saturday between his government and the country’s largest opposition bloc would boost ongoing talks in Nigeria to solve the crisis in Darfur.

Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir addresses a crowd in Juba, Sudan Monday Jan. 10, 2004. (AP).

"We are very optimistic 2005 will be a year of peace," Beshir said, after attending the signing of a reconciliation agreement between his government and the National Democratic Alliance that ended a 16-year feud.

"We are very hopeful that efforts under way in Abuja will now be crowned with an agreement for the stability and security of the people in Darfur," he said.

The agreement Khartoum signed with the NDA Saturday comes five months after the peace deal it clinched with southern rebels, ending 21 years of a bloody war.

"We hope this agreement will open a new page for solving the situation in Darfur," said Sudanese Vice President Ali Osman Taha, who signed the agreement with the NDA.

All the participants in the landmark ceremony, which was held in Cairo, also expressed their desire to see the stop-and-start negotiations under way in Abuja finally yield an agreement.

The main Darfur rebel group, the Sudan Liberation Army/Movement, is officially a member of the NDA but has been engaged in separate negotiations with the government.

The movement welcomed the Cairo agreement but warned Sudanese unity would not be achieved until the conflict in Darfur was solved.

"We welcome the signing of this agreement but we stress that there can be no global peace in Sudan so long our people in the East, in Darfur and in Kordofan (centre) obtain their fair share of the country’s power and resources," SLA/M chairman Abdel Wahed Mohammed Ahmed Nur told AFP.

International pressure has intensified recently to end bloodshed that has claimed between 180,000 and 300,000 lives and displaced some 2.4 million people.