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South Sudan president vows no return to civil war
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Oct 13, 2010 - 8:03:37 AM

South Sudan president vows no return to civil war

JUBA, Sudan South Sudan?s president Salva Kiir vowed on Wednesday there would be no return to war in Africa?s largest country, despite mounting tensions as a referendum on southern independence approaches.

South Sudan, which fought a two-decade civil war against the north in which some two million died, is due to vote on whether to secede or remain united with the north in a January 9 referendum set up as part of the 2005 peace deal.

"There is no reverse to this peace agreement" and no going back to war, said Kiir, first vice president of Sudan and president of the semi-autonomous south.

"We have suffered a lot and we don?t want to see people suffering again," Kiir added, speaking at the launch of a political conference for over 20 southern parties in Juba.

"We want peace and no return to war," he said. "No drop of blood should be shed again."

The three-day conference in the southern capital is aimed to establish "common principles" between all political leaders to support a "free, fair and transparent referendum," Kiir added.

"Therefore let us all work for a peaceful settlement of all issues so as to guarantee mutual respect and good neighbourliness."

Kiir shared a stage with his fellow vice president Ali Osman Taha of the north?s ruling National Congress Party.

But he also called on former civil war enemies in the north to implement an agreement on the contested border area of Abyei, which is due to hold a own simultaneous referendum on whether to join the north or the south.

"We do not want Abyei to become a potential trigger for a conflict again between the south and the north," Kiir said.

Negotiations on the future of the contested oil-rich region broke down on Tuesday over the issue of who is eligible to vote in Abyei, with south Sudan's army warning that the security situation there was deteriorating.

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