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Sudanese leaders pledge to end uprisings in South

4/22/2005 7:41am

NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 21, 2005 (PANA) -- Southern Sudanese leaders and former rebels on Tuesday pledged to forge peace and unity in the vast region emerging from a 21-year war as talks aimed at promoting post-war reconciliation between various factions kicked-off in Nairobi.

Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) leader John Garang and Sudan's Second Vice President Moses Machar appealed for unity and reconciliation among the southerners and called for common resolve to rid the region of militia activities.

"The people of southern Sudan have for a very long time waited for this peace. It would be treacherous for us to throw it away because we think we have differences of personal interests at stake," Machar told over 200 delegates who included the former rebel army, its political wing and rivals as well as representatives from Khartoum.

Former Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi, who was approached by Garang to mediate in the search for a lasting solution towards the achievement of lasting peace in the region, said the factions should promote dialogue to unite the various opposing ideologies.

Sudan's ruling National Congress Party (NCP), chaired by Machar, would work together with the SPLM to put an end to militia activities in southern Sudan, Machar told the delegates.

The three-day conference, dubbed South-South Dialogue, was convened by Moi's continental peace promotion body, the Moi African Institute, which the former leader formed to advocate his legacy as a peacemaker in the region.

Moi initiated the Somalia and the Sudan peace mediation efforts that led to the formation of the Somalia government and the signing of the comprehensive peace agreement for Sudan.

The 9 January peace agreement between the main rebel force, the SPLM, and the Sudanese government gave the southern Sudan limited autonomy in conducting its affairs but did not include other factions from the war-torn region.

"The comprehensive peace agreement belongs to all the Sudanese people. It doesn't matter who signed it and it's your duty to nurture peace and use it for development of southern Sudan," Garang said.

He said the peace deal offered "key solutions" to some of the problems the southerners had been fighting for in the last 21 years.

"The SPLM is fully committed to the dialogue no matter how difficult they are. We are ever ready for dialogue and reconciliation for the common good of our people," Garang said.

The SPLM leader said: "This is a place you belong and everybody will be treated like any other person joining the Movement. It is never too late for dialogue between brothers and sisters."

Garang, who is the Sudan's First Vice President- designate and the leader of the semi-independent southern Sudan government, praised Moi for playing a pivotal role in search for peace in the Sudan.

Sudan remains volatile despite the peace deal and the promised aid, tensions remain high between the government, its proxy militias in the south and the SPLM/A, security analysts say.

Many militias have refused to deal with SPLM/A leader whom they accuse of being dictatorial.

Several leading militia groups, among them the pro- Khartoum southern Sudanese militia groups, whose absence was blamed on the Khartoum government, snubbed the conference.

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