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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 November 2007, 11:15 GMT
Bashir 'preparing for Sudan war'
Salva Kiir (left) and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir (right)
Salva Kiir (l) is officially deputy to Omar al-Bashir (r)
The leader of South Sudan's former rebels has accused President Omar al-Bashir of "mobilising for war".

On Saturday, the president threatened to rearm northern militias despite a 2005 peace deal.

Mr Bashir called on the militias "to open training camps and to gather mujahideen, not for the sake of war but to be ready for anything."

The deal to end a 20-year civil war, which killed some two million people, has been in trouble for some time.

The Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) withdrew from a national unity government last month, accusing Mr Bashir of reneging on parts of the agreement.

'Self-defence'

SPLM leader Salva Kiir, who is national vice-president, accused Khartoum of re-arming the militias.

He was speaking to a large crowd at a rally in the southern capital, Juba, following his return from a trip to the United States.

Mr Kiir said he would never take the south back to war but reserved the right to self-defence if it came under attack.

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He warned his supporters to guard against war-mongering by Mr Bashir's National Congress Party.

NCP Youth Department Secretary Haj Majed Suwar told the state-owned Sudan Media Centre that members had "started assembling mujahideen who [were] waiting eagerly to execute the president's order".

President Omar al-Bashir was speaking at a celebration organised by the Popular Defence Force (PDF) on Saturday.

The PDF are accused of committing widespread atrocities during both the conflicts in South Sudan, and more recently in Darfur.

Leading NCP member Nafie Ali Nafie downplayed the president's comments, telling the independent daily Akhir Lahaza that "relations with the SPLM will never go to the brink of collapse."

The southern ministers say they would only return to the national unity government if 11 key issues were tackled, including the fate of the disputed oil-rich Abyei area, marking the north-south border and the removal of the pro-northern militias from the south.

In his speech, Mr Bashir also said he was committed to peace in the south but also said he would not make any changes to the status of Abyei, which he says lies in the north.

As part of the 2005 peace deal, the mainly Christian and animist South is due to vote in 2011 on whether or not to seek independence from the Muslim- and Arab-dominated north.

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