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Thursday, August 6, 1998 Published at 21:36 GMT 22:36 UK

World: Africa

Sudan peace talks end in failure

SPLA rebels: fighting Islamic rule

Peace talks between the Sudanese Government and southern rebels have ended without any breakthrough.

A spokesman for the SPLA rebels, Pagan Amum, said that three days of negotiations in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, had broken up with "no convergence on any points".

The two sides have agreed only to meet again in Nairobi in six months, he said.

The Sudanese Government delegation, headed by the Foreign Minister Mustapha Osman Ismail made no immediate comment, nor did the talks chairman Bonaya Godana, the foreign minister of Kenya.

Sources at the talks said the two sides remained deadlocked on how much of southern Sudan should be covered by a referendum on whether the south should secede from the rest of the country.

No date has yet been set for the referendum which the two sides agreed at peace talks in Kenya in May.

Both delegations have told journalists that they welcome an offer by the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan to mediate in the conflict.


The talks have been taking place against a backdrop of famine in southern Sudan, which aid agencies say is directly related to the civil war.

[ image: An estimated 2.5m people are threatened by the famine]
An estimated 2.5m people are threatened by the famine
On Monday, the Sudanese Government declared a unilateral ceasefire for the whole southern part of the country.

This extended a partial truce agreed last month between the army and the SPLA to allow the delivery of food to thousands of starving civilians.

The SPLA, led by John Garang, started fighting Khartoum in 1983, seeking greater religious freedom for the south and, later, for self-determination.

The war pits the largely Islamic, Arab north against the mainly black African and Christian or animist south.

The country contains a plethora of ethnic groups and inter-ethnic fighting has also prolonged the conflict.

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