UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
SUDAN: Final peace pact to be signed in Nairobi on Sunday
NAIROBI, 4 Jan 2005 (IRIN) - African leaders and other world dignitaries will gather in Nairobi on Sunday to witness the signing of a comprehensive peace agreement between the Sudanese government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM/A), Kenya's regional cooperation
The pact is expected to end more than two decades of civil war that has killed hundreds thousands of people, displaced many others and prevented development in southern Sudan.
"This Sunday, we have a very big celebration [in Nairobi] - the signing of the comprehensive [peace] agreement before the international community," Kenya's minister for East Africa and regional cooperation, John arap Koech, told reporters in the capital. "The number of dignitaries that is going to be in Nairobi will be many."
The signing in Naivasha, Kenya on Friday of a permanent ceasefire between the government and the SPLM/A, and an agreement on how the various peace protocols so far signed would be implemented, paved the way for the conclusion of the final deal.
"We are going to replace war with peace and hence enhance economic development in the region," said Koech, adding that intra-regional trade in eastern Africa was bound to increase with the restoration of peace in southern Sudan and the expected installation of a government in strife-torn Somalia.
The southern Sudan peace process, sponsored by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a regional grouping of six states, began in 1994. Several previous attempts by other mediators to end the conflict had failed.
Khartoum and the SPLM/A had pledged, in a memorandum initialled at an extraordinary session of the UN Security Council on 18-19 November in Nairobi, to reach a comprehensive peace agreement by 31 December 2004.
The two parties signed six protocols last May on key issues relating to the peace process, including power-sharing arrangements and the administration of three contested areas during a six-year interim period that will precede a referendum to determine whether the south will remain part of Sudan. Those protocols will form part of the comprehensive peace agreement.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan welcomed the signing of the permanent ceasefire agreement at the weekend and the initialling of the deal on the implementation modalities, saying he looked forward to the final settlement.
In a statement issued by his spokesman, Annan commended "the dedication of the Sudanese delegates, who persevered to bring the talks to a successful conclusion by the agreed timeline".
He hailed the "relentless diplomatic efforts of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, led by its chief mediator, Gen Lazarus Sumbeiywo, which were instrumental in bringing about a final agreement". Annan also thanked the Kenya government for its "sustained support for the negotiations and other governments for their substantial assistance".
The war in the south erupted in 1983 when the SPLM/A took up arms against the government, based in the north, to demand greater autonomy and access to resources. The conflict displaced hundreds of thousands of people within Sudan and forced many others to become refugees in neighbouring countries.
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