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Page last updated at 19:15 GMT, Tuesday, 16 June 2009 20:15 UK

Sudan denies sowing south dissent

Members of South Sudan's army in May 2008
The UN convoy was being guarded by 150 soldiers from South Sudan's army

A minister in north Sudan has denied his government provided the arms used in a recent attack on a UN aid convoy.

The strategic planning minister told the BBC he had no knowledge of where the weapons might have come from.

On Monday, a governing party leader in South Sudan said they were distributed in the south to spread dissent.

He had said Khartoum wanted to destabilise the region before a referendum on southern independence due in 2011.

Twenty-seven river barges were looted in Sunday's attack by gunmen from the Jikany Nuer tribe, who wanted to stop the food supplies reaching a rival ethnic group.

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A 22-year war between the mainly Muslim north and the Christian and animist south ended in 2005, after 1.5 million people died.

Under the 2005 peace deal the former rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) formed a power-sharing government with President Omar al-Bashir's National Congress Party in Khartoum.

After the barge attack, SPLM Secretary General Pagan Amum said the spirit of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) had been "assassinated" by Khartoum, as he accused its government of distributing arms in the south.

But Minister Tajussir Mahjoub told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme that no "sane government" would do that.

"Everybody is keen to see the CPA go through," he said.

Several hundred people have been killed in clashes between rival ethnic groups, including the Jikany Nuer, in the south in recent months.

Relations between the former foes are tense, with national elections due in 2010 and then a referendum on whether the south should secede due in 2011.



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