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Sudan, Southern Rebels Set Date to Sign Pact

By Ibrahim Ali Suleiman
Associated Press
Sunday, December 26, 2004; Page A29

KHARTOUM, Sudan, Dec. 25 -- The Sudanese government and the country's main southern rebel group will sign a peace agreement Jan. 10 in Kenya to end more than 20 years of civil war, a senior government official said Saturday.

The government and the Sudan People's Liberation Army had pledged to finalize an agreement to end Africa's longest-running war by Dec. 31, making a commitment last month before the U.N. Security Council, which held a rare meeting in Nairobi to spur peace talks.

_____Crisis in Sudan_____
Q&A: Darfur A brief explanation of the issues and current humanitarian situation in Western Sudan.
Photos: Continuing Crisis
Photos: Sudan's Rebels
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Danforth Says He Left Position At U.N. for Personal Reasons (The Washington Post, Dec 4, 2004)
Ambassador to Leave U.N. Job Next Month (The Washington Post, Dec 3, 2004)

The north-south war has pitted Sudan's Muslim-dominated government against rebels in the Christian and animist south seeking greater autonomy and more of the country's wealth. The conflict is blamed for more than 2 million deaths, primarily from famine and disease caused by the war.

An adviser to President Omar Hassan Bashir told the official Sudan Media Center that the government and rebel negotiators decided to continue talks over the Christmas and New Year's holidays to resolve outstanding differences before the agreement is signed.

U.N. and U.S. officials say they hope that a solution to the civil war, which will include a new constitution and power-sharing government, will encourage negotiations to end the conflict between government-backed forces and rebels in the Darfur region of western Sudan.

An estimated 70,000 people have died in that conflict, which has driven 1.8 million from their homes since non-Arab rebel groups took up arms in February 2003 against what they saw as years of government neglect of and discrimination against Sudanese of African origin.

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