Sudanese peace process still on course despite delays: mediator

NAIROBI, Jun 14, 2005 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- The implementation of the peace deal signed between Sudan's southern rebels and Khartoum government is still on track despite delays in the writing of a new constitution, a top mediator said here Tuesday.

Kenya's chief mediator to the Sudan peace process Lazarus Sumbeiywo said a government of national unity will be formed immediately after representatives from the Khartoum government and Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) complete negotiating a new constitution.

"From January 10 the parties actually went into the seclusion to start writing basis of interim national constitution and they have been working on this. So it's a question of time," Sumbeiywo who mediated the Sudan conflict told a meeting in Nairobi.

"If they sign the constitution on July 9 and a month later we get the government, we should give them a clap," Sumbeiywo said.

The mediator, however, regretted that a separate conflict in western region of Darfur has overshadowed efforts to bring a lasting peace to the southern Sudan.

"With Darfur, the international community and the media just drifted off and forgot about the south. I think the media can bring back the south to life again," Sumbeiywo asserted.

According to the peace agreement signed in January 9 in Nairobi, Sudan's new government of national unity should have been formed by July 9, incorporating members of both the Khartoum administration and former guerrilla leaders from the south.

However, the deadline has to be delayed by at least a month to finalize wording of the constitution, particularly some sensitive religious references.

Sudan's 21-year conflict which came to an end early this year claimed lives of 800,000 people, displacing over 1 million.