Home | News    Saturday 5 November 2005

Darfur peace deal possible by year end - Sudan’s Kiir

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Nov 4, 2005 (WASHINGTON) — A peace deal in Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region could be reached by year’s end if southern Sudan officials join the talks, First Vice President Salva Kiir said.

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Salav Kiir

"Our determination is to let us bring peace to Darfur by the end of the year," said Kiir at a forum of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington.

But Kiir expressed disappointment at US renewal of sanctions against the government as a sponsor of terrorism, and what he said was a lack of promised aid to rebuild the south in the wake of January’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) with Khartoum.

Kiir spoke as the US State Department announced that Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick will travel to Nairobi next week to attempt to reconcile feuding factions of the Sudan Liberation Movement, the main group fighting the government in Darfur.

The plunge of the SLM into a divisive power struggle following the election of a new leader, whom the group’s founder branded illegitimate, threatened to stall the Darfur peace talks in Abuja two weeks before they are scheduled to resume.

"All have agreed to go to Nairobi" to meet Zoellick, said Jendayi Frazer, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.

"The critical component here is that all sides see the United States as a critical player in trying to bring the SLM together," Frazer said.

"Our message to them getting back to Darfur is that you cannot win friends or win advantage at the negotiating table if you are attacking civilians," she said.

"And if you want the US to help you and to provide assistance to you in terms of negotiations, then you have to honor the ceasefire" with the government in Darfur.

Kiir also serves as president of Sudan’s southern government, which signed the US-brokered CPA with Khartoum in January to end a 21-year civil war between the north and the south. He said he believed the CPA could be a model for the upcoming Abuja talks, in which his southern government will take part for the first time.

His officials will make proposals he believed the Darfur rebels will find attractive, but declined to give any details in advance of the talks.

But Kiir meanwhile said that implementation of January’s peace accord could be impeded by US sanctions on Khartoum.

Washington announced the renewal of the sanctions Tuesday just as Kiir was meeting with Vice President Dick Cheney, timing Kiir called "a very bad coincidence".

The United States has applied annual sanctions, including an economic embargo, against Sudan since 1997 because Khartoum’s actions and policies "continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States".

Sudan would ask for humanitarian exemptions for railway and riverboat equipment in order to restore major transportation links between the north and the south, Kiir said.

The links were necessary to transport home thousands of people displaced by the lengthy civil war, he said.

But Kiir added that rebuilding southern Sudan was further imperiled by the lack of aid disbursements, despite pledges of 4.5 billion dollars for the next three years at an Oslo donors conference in April.

"Pledging is one thing... nobody has paid," Kiir said, noting that the World Bank will manage the money.

"To enjoy peace you must have a peace dividend," he said.

According to the state department, Zoellick, who has visited Sudan three times this year, will also travel to Khartoum, Darfur and Juba in the south to evaluate the situation after the CPA pact.

(AFP/ST)

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