Friday, April 16, 2004

Sudan: deadlock (in the south)

Talks between the government and the SPLA/M stalled a few days ago over the issue of Sharia in Khartoum. The government wants Sharia to apply to everybody in the capital ... the SPLA/M says it should only apply to muslims. Just yesterday, President Omar al-Bashir gave a speech in which he vowed not to abandon Sharia, saying non-muslims' rights would be guaranteed.

Both sides have had to call in the mediators. Chief mediator Lazaro Sumbeiywo told The Associated Press, "Yes, they have asked us to help them resolve the outstanding issues."

Earlier this month, they settled the two other major issues.

SPLA/M = Southern People's Liberation Army/Movement

UPDATE: On Saturday, VP Ali Osman Taha, the chief government negotiator, returned to Khartoum for a couple of days. The SPLA/M say the government is stalling ... but people speaking on behalf of the goverment say Taha returned to brief President Bashir about the negotiations and to attend to other responsibilites.