Albright Backs Sudan Peace Efforts|
By DIANNA CAHN Associated Press Writer
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) - Calling on Sudan's government to take seriously the people of its rebellious south, Secretary of State
Madeleine Albright today committed U.S. funding and support to end the nation's 16-year civil war.
Albright, who will meet Saturday with rebel leader John Garang, said that despite hostile relations between Washington and the
Sudanese government, she believed the United States could play a role in mediating the conflict.
Her meeting with Garang ``should be viewed as an important support for what we think needs to be done ... to have the people of
the south be taken seriously in Khartoum,' Sudan's capital, Albright said following talks today with Kenyan President Daniel arap
Albright praised recent efforts to revive deadlocked peace talks. The regional Inter-governmental Authority on Development, which
is sponsoring the talks, established a secretariat in July in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, to conduct continuous negotiations.
The United States and the European Commission already have been funding the IGAD-sponsored talks, which were conducted
sporadically before the secretariat was established. But today, Albright committed U.S. funding to cover ``more than half the
expenses' for the secretariat's first six months.
``I believe that we need a renewed effort,' she said. ``I think that we are all, on a daily basis, horrified by what is going on in Sudan
and we believe that the IGAD process is the best way to go forward.'
Nearly 2 million Sudanese have died since 1983, when the government of the Arab and Islamic north began fighting the rebels in the
mostly Christian and animist south, led by Garang's Nairobi-based Sudan People's Liberation Army. Most of the deaths have been
caused by war-related famines.
Tens of thousands of Sudanese also have been abducted as slaves by pro-government forces, and hundreds of thousands of
Sudanese farmers have been driven off their land.
Albright dismissed alternative peace proposals by Egypt and Libya, saying all peace efforts should be under the umbrella of the
IGAD process. That is in keeping with the rebel position.
Parties to the peace process have agreed on granting some form of broader self-rule to southern Sudan, beginning with an interim
two-year period of administration for the south, but the peace process has stalled over the plan's details.
One sticking point is freedom of religion. The rebels demand either a secular state or suspension of Islamic law for the interim
period, while Khartoum insists religious freedom is guaranteed under Sudan's Islamic constitution.
Other disagreements include what the interim administration's boundaries would be and who would participate in a referendum on
southern self-determination. dailynews.yahoo.com