Sudan: is peace imminent? At long last Sudan's president, Omar Beshir, held a landmark meeting with the SPLA leader, Dr John Garang in Nairobi. So is peace imminent?

Author:Mozyinski, Peter
Position::Around Africa

The two rivals met in the Kenyan capital while President Beshir was on a one-day state visit. They expressed hope on reaching a final agreement by the end ofJune, and reaffirmed their commitment to honour the previous peace agreements reached between the two parties, particularly the Machakos Protocol. "The meeting was very important indeed because they [Beshir and Garang] are the ones who hold the key to a final agreement," said General Lazaro Sumbeiywo, Kenya's chief mediator.

Yet bringing a swift resolution to Africa's longest-running conflict might still be an uphill task despite the diplomatic progress. The peace process has managed to rumble on, despite walkouts, breakdowns, continued fighting in the oilfields, a new rebellion in Darfur and countless other difficulties. Now, both the government and the SPIA are afraid of upsetting the Americans, and neither wants to bear the blame for the collapse of the peace process. President Beshir has done much to distance his government from its previous connections with radical Islam, though Sudan still remains on the US terror list, and as such labelled as "axis of evil". Even so, on 28 March, Gerhart Baum, the UN's Special Rapporteur on human rights in Sudan told the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva: "I have seen no fundamental change since my last visit, in spite of further commitments by the government. The country remains under the iron-tight grip of the omnipresent security apparatus, which continues to enjoy virtual impunity. "

In recent months, the US-sponsored Civilian Protection Monitoring Team has said the government and its allied militia have committed a number of attacks in the oil rich areas south of Bentiu and killing civilians.

"The positive changes...

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