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Saturday, 20 July, 2002, 16:49 GMT 17:49 UK
Sudan peace talks reach breakthrough
SPLA rebels after capture of Kapoeta, near border with Kenya and Uganda
The SPLA captured the town of Kapoeta last month
The Sudanese Government and the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) say they have achieved a breakthrough towards ending their 19-year conflict.

The two sides have agreed on a framework for future talks aimed at ending the civil war in the south of the country.

A rebel spokesman, Samson Kwaje, told the BBC that both sides had agreed that after a six-year period, a referendum would be held in the south on the right to self-determination, and that Islamic law would only apply to the north.

The head of the government delegation, Ghazi Salah al-Din, said the deal included "a structure which resolves the basic question of state versus religion and self-determination (for the south)".

"These were the two most difficult questions which we had," he added.

Talks on ceasefire

The agreement followed five weeks of negotiations in the Kenyan town of Machakos.

Mother and her child displaced by the fighting
Thousands of civilians have been displaced
The Sudanese Government said the deal would only be implemented after a cessation of hostilities.

Both sides have agreed to continue, in three weeks' time, talks aimed at ending the fighting.

Reports say both sides had come under intense pressure from the United States to reach a deal.

Sudan is ruled from the north by Arab Muslims, while the people in the south have a predominantly Christian heritage.

In 1983, the southerners took up arms to fight for self-determination.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Cathy Jenkins in Nairobi
"A deadlock of years may have been broken"

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09 Jul 02 | Africa
02 Jul 02 | Africa
01 Jul 02 | Africa
01 Jul 02 | Africa
17 Jun 02 | Africa
12 Jun 02 | Africa
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