Wed, Jan 26, 2005 - Page 6 News List

Sudanese rebels endorseagreement to end conflict

AP , Rumbek, Sudan

Leaders of Sudan's main southern rebel movement unanimously endorsed on Monday an agreement to end Africa's longest-running civil war, paving the way for a new constitution and power-sharing government.

Members of the 224-seat National Liberation Council, the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army's legislative body, met for two days at their southern headquarters in Rumbek to discuss details of the deal, signed by their leader John Garang and Vice President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha on Jan. 9 in neighboring Kenya.

Members asked questions about security arrangements, the division of wealth between north and south, and the structure of a new government, but proposed no amendments to the accord.

Sudan's national Parliament also must sign off on the deal. Deliberations in the capital, Khartoum, begin Saturday.

Once ratified, the deal is legally binding on all sides, clearing the way for the drafting of a new constitution and formation of a government in which insurgents will receive 30 percent of seats. In six years, southern states will have an opportunity to vote on secession.

The 21-year war has pitted the Arab Muslim-dominated government in Khartoum against rebels fighting for greater autonomy and a larger share of the country's wealth in the largely African Christian and animist south.

More than 2 million people have died, mainly from war-induced famine and disease, and at least twice as many have fled their homes.

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