North, south Sudan agree on implementing peace deal

Source: Reuters

JUBA, Sudan, Aug 19 (Reuters) – Representatives from Sudan’s north and south have agreed to implement several disputed or neglected elements of a 2005 peace deal that ended more than two decades of fighting, a U.S. envoy said on Wednesday. Scott Gration, the U.S. special envoy to Sudan, said the new agreement was the result of months of work discussing sticking points in the deal that included the long-delayed demarcation of the north-south border and security issues. The 2005 deal ended one of Africa’s longest wars. But tensions persist between the two sides as Sudan prepares for presidential, parliamentarian and other elections in 2010, followed by a referendum on southern secession in 2011. The formal talks began in June when Gration invited representatives of the former southern rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the northern based National Congress Parties (NCP) to thrash out their differences in Washington. “It is a culmination of many months of work. It represents agreement between the NCP and SPLM on issues that remain, to implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement,” he said after the deal was signed in the southern capital Juba. Some elements of the 2005 deal have been set aside for now, including a stand-off on the results of a census and a law to guide the referendum on secession, officials said. Gration said talks on these issues would continue in the next months between the SPLM and NCP, with U.S. officials. North-south fighting has broken out three times in two oil-producing areas since the peace deal was signed in Kenya in 2005. Some 50,000 people lost their homes and dozens were killed in violence in Abyei town last year. The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague decided a new boundary for the disputed area in July, which was agreed to by both sides. On Wednesday both said they would pull back their armies from the Abyei area to avoid any further fighting. A ‘points of agreement’ document released after the meeting also said that a demarcation committee for the new boundary should be formed with surveyors chosen by both sides in equal numbers. Senior NCP official Ghazi Salaheddin said the two parties had managed to agree on 10 out of 12 trouble areas, including on wealth sharing between north and south. The SPLM rejected the census results when they were announced in May, saying that southerners living in Khartoum had been undercounted and some figures in northern areas inflated. Tension over the census result has been compounded by an argument over the draft referendum bill. At issue is how many people would need to be registered and vote for a result to be considered valid and whether only southerners now in the south or also those living in other areas of Sudan should be allowed to vote. (Reporting by Mavis Biriungi, writing by Skye Wheeler)

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