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Militia gets power-sharing deal

10/6/2005 7:12pm

Khartoum - A southern Sudanese militia group reached a deal with the government for its troops to be integrated with the army and for a share of seats and posts in southern institutions, said an official on Thursday.

Paulino Matep's South Sudan Defence Forces (SSDF) fought alongside northern Arab government troops and against the former rebel, Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), during the 21-year civil war that ended in January.

Paul Gatkuoth of the SSDF said: "The government has agreed to admit 628 officers and 6 000 non-commissioned officers and men from the SSDF into the joint military unit in the south."

An army official confirmed that SSDF forces would be integrated into a joint unit in southern Sudan, but did not elaborate on the numbers.

Post-war national unity govt

The SPLM had also granted the SSDF 20 seats in the southern parliament and three ministries in the government of southern Sudan.

Khartoum signed a peace agreement with the SPLM in January 2005 and the former foes set up the country's first post-war national unity government last month.

Power-sharing quotas enshrined in the peace deal gave 52% to the ruling party of President Omar al-Beshir, 28% to the SPLM and 14% to northern opposition parties and six to southern opposition movements.

The largely autonomous south also retained its own institutions and was due to hold a referendum on self-determination in six years.

Nine months after peace was signed, the vast war-ravaged south remained unstable and fears of communal strife there were heightened by the July 30 death of historical southern leader, John Garang, and reports of deadly rampages by gangs with links to the Ugandan rebellion.

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