January 8, 2005

DONE IN THE SOUTH, ON TO THE WEST:

Powell in Nairobi to Press Sudanese Leaders on Darfur (David Gollust, 07-January-2005 2001, VOA News)

The secretary will meet in the Kenyan capital with, among others, Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir, Vice President Ali Osman Taha who has been the lead negotiator in the north-south talks, and southern rebel leader John Garang, who will become first vice president under a new power-sharing arrangement.

At a news briefing, State Department Deputy Spokesman Adam Ereli called the north-south peace accord, to which Secretary Powell devoted considerable time and effort, a historic achievement. At the same time, he rejected a suggestion the Bush administration is neglecting Darfur, which said is an issue of "utmost importance:"

"We are not turning a blind-eye to it,” he said. “To the contrary, we are working to leverage the achievement of a north-south agreement to not only bring pressure and bring focus and bring attention to the problem in Darfur, but to perhaps use some of the positive things coming out of the north-south agreement, and the positive mechanisms and ways of dealing with problems, and apply them to Darfur and make progress on that issue as well."

Under the north-south agreement, achieved after two years of Kenyan-led mediation, the Khartoum government and the southern rebel movement will share power and resources, including oil revenue, and merge their armed forces.

After six years, the south will hold a referendum on whether to remain part of Sudan.

U.S. officials say they hope the Nairobi accord can be a model for a peace accord in Darfur, where autonomy-seeking rebels in the western region took up arms against the Khartoum government in early 2003.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 8, 2005 6:12 AM
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