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Page last updated at 08:21 GMT, Friday, 17 July 2009 09:21 UK

Sudan rivals agree to avert war

File photo from May 2008 showing Abyei village in South Sudan after clashes
Much of Abyei was left in ashes after last year's clashes

Rival parties from north and south Sudan have agreed new plans to prevent conflict ahead of next week's ruling on their disputed border.

The two sides ended 22 years of conflict in 2005 but tension remains high, especially in the oil-rich region of Abyei, claimed by both sides.

A court in The Hague is due to rule on the border next Wednesday and both sides promise to abide by its ruling.

The agreement in Khartoum was overseen by US envoy Scott Gration.

Last year, clashes in Abyei forced some 50,000 people to flee their homes and reportedly left 100 dead.

Map

Tensions are rising ahead of national elections put back until April 2010 and a referendum on whether the south should secede, due in 2011.

Senior negotiator Malik Aggar, from the south's former rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), told the BBC there was bound to be disappointment from one side or another with the decision from the Permanent Court for Arbitration.

"We expected some violence may be there but both parties are prepared to quell any violence," he said.

He said that the presence of UN peacekeepers would be increased, while both sides would send officials to explain the ruling and try to avert bloodshed.

However, he also said there were up to 14 unresolved issues between the two sides.

Ghazi Salahaldin from President Omar al-Bashir's National Congress Party also said the two sides were working together to prevent renewed conflict.

The long civil war - separate from the Darfur conflict - between the mainly Muslim north and the Christian and animist south ended in 2005, after claiming 1.5 million lives.



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