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Sudan Assembly Gives Unanimous 'Yes'

With cries of "God is Great," members of parliament unanimously Tuesday ratified the government's peace agreement with the southern rebels, formally sealing the end to Africa's longest civil war. 

When the speaker called the "yes" vote, all the legislators in the chamber stood up to show their approval, according to a live broadcast on state television. Lawmakers clapped and some shouted "Allahu Akbar," the Islamic rallying cry meaning "God is Great."


The peace agreement signed in Nairobi, Kenya, on January 9 provides for the creation of a transitional government in which the former southern rebels, the Sudan People's Liberation Army, will have several positions in the cabinet.


The agreement also provides for Sudan's southern provinces to vote in a referendum on self-determination at the end of a six-year transitional period.


On Monday, a UN-appointed independent panel concluded in a report that the Sudanese government "has not pursued a policy of genocide" in the war-ravaged western region of Darfur.


The 176-page report said the central government of Sudan did not have intent to carry out genocide in Darfur, which is a key factor to establish a case of genocide.


"The crucial element of genocidal intent appears to be missing, at least as far as the central government authorities are concerned," the report explained.


"Generally speaking the policy of attacking, killing and forcibly displacing members of some tribes does not evince a specific intent to annihilate, in whole or in part, a group distinguished on racial, ethnic or religious grounds," it added.


"Rather, it would seem that those who planned and organized attacks on villages pursued the intent to drive the victims from their homes, primarily for purposes of counter-insurgency warfare."


The report noted that in some instances individuals, including government officials, may have committed "acts with genocidal intent" but they can only be determined by "a competent court" on a case-by-case basis.


Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan proposed on Monday the establishment of a 11,000-strong UN peacekeeping force to help the Sudanese government and its rebels in the south carry out a comprehensive peace deal.


In a report to the Security Council, Annan recommended the deployment of 10,130 troops and 755 civilian police officers in southern Sudan. The military component will consist of 750 observers, 160 staff officers, 5,070 peacekeeping soldiers and a protection force of 4,150.


Urging extensive and sustained international assistance for the implementation of the peace accord, Annan said the UN has encountered difficulty putting together the new peacekeeping mission. The world body currently runs 16 such operations around the globe.


"Despite appeals made to over 100 member states, the secretariat has received a very limited number of responses," he noted. "While some crucial enabling units are still required, we have just enough commitments from troop contributing countries to initiate a phased deployment of the operation in all sectors as planned."


(China Daily February 2, 2005)

Sudan: UN Clears Government of Genocide
End in Sight for Southern Sudan Conflict
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