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Last Updated: Friday, 19 September, 2003, 14:15 GMT 15:15 UK
Sudan peace deal 'within days'
From left, SPLA's John Garang, Sudan's Vice President Ali Osman Mohammed Taha at peace talks in Kenya
John Garang (l) is getting more respect from government-run media
Hopes of an agreement at Sudanese peace talks in Kenya have been raised, with Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail saying a final settlement could be reached within days.

On Friday, delegates were discussing two of the outstanding issues - the size and the length of deployment of military forces in southern Sudan during a six-year interim period.

The BBC's Caroline Karobia in Naivasha says that both sides have agreed that 36,000 troops should be initially deployed - the government and the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) contributing 18,000 troops each.

But the SPLA wants the joint force reduced to 6,000 after the first two years of the interim period, which the government objects to.

Critical

The negotiations between the rebel leader, John Garang, and the Sudanese Vice-President, Ali Osman Taha, are seen as critical for the survival of the Sudanese peace process.

The fact that Mr Garang and Mr Taha have been talking now for two weeks has, in itself, been taken as an optimistic sign.

The government-run media has also changed its tone towards Mr Garang and the SPLA.

Newspapers now refer to the SPLA leader as "Mr John Garang, the leader of the SPLA", unlike in the past when they described him as "rebel leader John Garang".

Observers say that the shift seems to be part of the government's preparation for Mr Garang assuming a position in an interim administration to be created under a final settlement.




SEE ALSO:
Sudan's peace under threat
09 Sep 03  |  Africa
Sudan Government frees 'rebels'
07 Sep 03  |  Africa
Sudan president pledges peace
01 Jul 03  |  Africa
Sudan 'ceasefire broken'
02 Jan 03  |  Africa
Sudan talks end without deal
18 Nov 02  |  Africa
Country profile: Sudan
03 Mar 03  |  Country profiles


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