Sudan

Machar quits in setback for Sudan peace process

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Khartoum (dpa) - Riek Machar, the rebel leader who convinced six rebel factions to lay dowm their arms and sign a peace agreement with the Khartoum government in 1997, has abandoned the agreement, throwing the peace process into confusion.

Machar, who under the Khartoum peace agreement became the assistant president of Sudan and administrator general of Southern Sudan, tendered his resignation to President Omar Beshir on January 31. The letter of his resignation was published Saturday in the press.

The independent al-Rai al-Aam published in full the resignation letter sent to the president by Machar from the Kenyan capital of Nairobi where he is currently residing.

Among the reasons for his resignation is what he called the violation of the agreement by the government quoting as an example the dismissal and appointment of governors of the southern states by Beshir without consulting him.

Under the agreement, persons to be appointed governor in the southern states have to be recommended by the administrator general of the southern states, a post occupied by Machar.

The resignation letter also complained that the government had refused to implement some of the terms of the agreement such as the creation of a Southern Sudan consultative council, the formation of a joint military commission to monitor the ceasefire between the government and the rebel factions that signed the Khartoum agreement and entrusting public order in the hands of the southern states administration.

Machar also accused the government of waging war on the Southern Defence Force - the name given to the fighters of the six rebel factions that signed agreement with the government in 1997 - based at the Unity State, killing innocent people including two state ministers.

"For your information I have also resigned from my post as chairman of the United Democratic Salvation Front (UDSF) party," the resignation letter said.

This party was made up mainly of former rebels and southern Sudanese living in government-controlled towns, particularly Juba and Wau in southern Sudan.

The government-run al-Anbaa daily commented that Machar was forced to resign by outside circles.

Machar left Khartoum towards the end of last year on a tour of European countries after which he went to Kenya from where he had been going into southern Sudan to consult with his forces, some of whom had earlier announced their return to the armed struggle against Khartoum which they accused of violating the peace agreement.

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