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Last Updated: Monday, 10 January 2005, 14:41 GMT
Sudanese celebrating peace deal
SPLA supporters celebrate in Nairobi
Sudanese began celebrating after the signing in Nairobi
Tens of thousands of Sudanese have been taking part in rallies celebrating the historic peace deal between the government and southern rebels.

President Omar al-Bashir told a rally in the main southern town, Juba, that the end of war would bring a big rise in living standards.

He urged millions of people displaced during the 20-year war to return home.

The deal was signed during a lavish ceremony attended by international dignitaries in Kenya on Sunday.

In the capital, Khartoum, people converged on the city centre, waving flags and banners in support of the peace deal.

Juba

Just before President Bashir spoke, 20 white doves were released in front of a crowd waving white cloth.

"We want to bring water, electricity, telephone communication so that people here will be equal to those in Khartoum," Mr Bashir told the rally.

He also promised to build a road to Juba from Khartoum and onwards to Kenya and Uganda.

Last chance

Rebel leader John Garang, whose home town is Juba, told a cheering crowd in Nairobi on Sunday that the peace deal would change Sudan "forever".

His words were translated into Arabic on Sudanese television.

FINAL PEACE DEAL
Sudan Vice-President Ali Osman Taha, left, and SPLM leader John Garang
Army
Both sides will unify into 39,000-strong force if the south does not secede after six years
Autonomy
The south will have autonomy for six years followed by referendum for secession
Oil wealth
To be shared 50:50
Jobs
To be split 70:30 in favour of the government in the central administration
To be split 55:45 in favour of the government in Abyei, Blue Nile State and the Nuba mountains
Islamic law
To remain in the north
Sharia in Khartoum to be decided by elected assembly

Television and radio schedules were cleared to bring hours of live coverage of the signing ceremony.

The BBC's Jonah Fisher in Khartoum says the word on every southerner's lips now is implementation.

They are all too aware that previous agreements have been signed and failed.

"If everything is going all right all the people will go back because they are displaced now around Khartoum. They are not workers, they are jobless," one man told the BBC.

"They have nothing so if the peace will be fought in the right way they will go back to the south Sudan and everything will be there."

Plan

Starting in July, the south will be autonomous for six years and will then vote in a referendum to decide whether to remain part of Sudan, or become independent.

Sudan's new oil wealth - currently producing about 320,000 barrels a day - is to be split equally between north and south.

It is hoped that this time, the involvement of the international community will help keep the peace agreement on track.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell was among the many dignitaries who attended the signing ceremony.

Everyone is acutely aware that this agreement is almost certainly the last chance for Africa's largest country to stop itself splitting apart, our correspondent says.

The war was sparked by discrimination by the Arab government in Khartoum against the Christian and Animist south.

Muslims in Darfur in Western Sudan made similar complaints about Khartoum leading to a rebellion. The ensuing violence has caused up to two million civilians to flee their homes.




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