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Sudan Peace Great But Darfur Worries

May 11, 2004

An estimated 1.5 million people have died in two decades of civil strife, complicated by recurring drought, that has devastated south Sudan.

But an imminent end to the suffering hovers on the horizon as separatist rebels in the southern part of the country edge ever closer to signing a peace agreement with the Islamist regime in Khartoum.

From a regional standpoint, Uganda must be firmly behind these on-going talks between the Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA) and government of Sudan. We stand to benefit once the guns fall silent with finality.

Firstly, we have had to host a large number of Sudanese refugees - a situation that has at times had severe security implications for us as a country.

More closer to home, Uganda and Sudan have fought running battles on the war front and through diplomatic channels in trying to resolve our own insurgency in the middle north of the country.

Once SPLA and Khartoum put pen to paper the blood-spilling days of the rebel Lord's Resistance Army will be well and truly numbered.

No longer will they enjoy safe haven in south Sudan and neither will the Sudanese be worried that the SPLA shall have more than moral backing from Kampala.

For the millions of internally displaced people in Gulu, Kitgum, Pader, Lira and parts of Teso this is cause for hope that they may one day return to normal life.

In this atmosphere of impending rapprochement, however, it is mystifying that Khartoum has been implicated in the on-going savagery visited on blacks living in Darfur area by the Arab Janjawid militia.

There are credible reports of ethnic cleansing and other shocking crimes against humanity being perpetrated against the people.

While the Islamist regime denies most reports and allegations, the world community must worry because the two-decade war in the south had ethnic overtones.

This regime should be the last one to be giving tacit support to further belligerence in the region - especially of the sort that re-ignites memories of the bitter southern experience.

Notes: (The Monitor (Kampala)
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