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Sudan: Moi mandated by IGAD to merge peace initiatives

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NAIROBI, 14 January (IRIN) - A new effort to merge two parallel but different peace efforts on Sudan under the chairmanship of Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi has emerged from last week's summit meeting of the regional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
Moi has been charged with merging IGAD's own peace initiative with the Libyan-Egyptian initiative, the essence of which was distilled in a joint memorandum in July 2001, according to the US peace envoy, John Danforth, as quoted by the Kenyan Television Network on Saturday, after a briefing with Moi in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

Danforth is hoping to build broad international support for the process of combining peace efforts on Sudan under Moi, as mandated by IGAD.

"Our hope is [that] a core of support for peace, led by Egypt and Kenya and joined in by the Europeans, Canadians and ourselves, is going to have an effect," United Press International (UPI) on Monday quoted the American peace envoy as saying.

After his first trip to Sudan as US peace envoy in November, Danforth wrote to Moi and President Husni Mubarak of Egypt, urging them to work together on a peace effort which would reconcile the two regional peace initiatives, according to regional analysts.

Moi had now been mandated by IGAD to pick up on that and was due to dispatch Kenya's special envoy for the Sudanese peace process, Lt-Gen Lazarus Sumbeiywo, to Egypt for talks on how to proceed with the merger of the parallel peace efforts at an early date - possibly as early as this week, they added.

The Kenyan president said on Saturday that the mandate given him by IGAD (comprising Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda) would enable him to encourage the warring parties to reach an agreement, according to KTN.

The latest phase of Sudan's civil war, since 1983, has pitted government and aligned militia forces against mostly southern Sudanese rebel groups, including the southern People's Liberation Movement/Army SPLM/A), on numerous fronts - along the traditional North/South divide, in "transitional zones" (including the Nuba Mountains and Southern Blue Nile) and also on the eastern front.

Moi said he would invite all parties interested in the Sudan peace process to a meeting in Nairobi within the next six months, the Kenyan official Sunday Times newspaper reported on Sunday.

That meeting would (potentially) involve face-to-face talks between Sudanese President Umar Hasan al-Bashir and the leader of the SPLM/A, John Garang, which, Moi said, would lay the foundation for a cease-fire to be monitored under the auspices of the United Nations, the report stated.

In his speech at the IGAD summit in Sudan last week, Moi deplored the intransigence of both sides involved in the Sudanese conflict, and their refusal to make concessions.

The peace process was in danger of collapse unless it was put on the right track and had the necessary impetus created to achieve an early peace agreement, the official Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) quoted him as saying.

Moi on Sunday agreed with Norwegian Minister for International Development Hilde Johnson, during her stop in Nairobi after a working visit to northern and southern Sudan, on the vital significance of international support for the Sudanese peace process, KBC reported.

Johnson, her British counterpart, Clare Short, and the US peace envoy, John Danforth, have all been engaged in hectic shuttle diplomacy to government- and rebel-held areas of Sudan, as well as the Kenyan capital and other regional centres, in a bid to re-energise efforts to find a just peace in Sudan.

"This is a historic opportunity to reach a peace deal. There is a deep war weariness both in the (Sudanese) army and in the South," the UK-based Financial Times newspaper quoted Short as saying after her return from a five-day visit to Sudan.

"Mistrust means that the two parties, left to themselves, probably will not be able to make it work. That is why we have got to try," she added.

Danforth said on Sunday he was not sure if the leadership in the north or that in the south were ready or willing to make peace, UPI reported. "If by chance either or both sides are tired of decade after decade of killing to no avail, maybe it's time for peace," he added.

[ENDS]

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