- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 2, 2005

NAIROBI, Kenya — A peace accord ending Africa’s longest-running civil war requires Sudan’s government to withdraw at least 91,000 troops from the rebel-controlled south, a rebel official said yesterday, revealing new details of the deal signed last week.

The forces must pull out within 2 years, while a proposed government for the autonomous southern Sudan will field a separate army using its share of oil and tax revenues as well as international aid, rebel spokesman Samson Kwaje said.

“It will be a legitimate department of the government of southern Sudan,” Mr. Kwaje said, detailing the accord signed Friday after two years of talks to resolve a conflict that has killed 2 million people in the past two decades, mostly from war-induced famine and disease.

The rebels, meanwhile, have eight months to withdraw their forces from northern Sudan. They must pull out 30 percent of their fighters within four months of a signing ceremony scheduled for Sunday in Kenya, said Ad’Dirdeiry Hamed, deputy Sudanese ambassador to Kenya.

The rebel pullout will cover the Nuba Mountains, land along the southern Blue Nile and Abyei, areas now held by the insurgents but which the government considers to be a traditional part of northern Sudan, Mr. Hamed said.

The rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Army and government forces also agreed in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, that their allied paramilitary groups in southern Sudan must either be disarmed or join rebel and government forces within a year, Mr. Kwaje said.

Rebels wanted this to happen in six months, “but we wanted more time because this is a sensitive issue,” government spokesman Sayed El-Khatib said.

Government and rebel forces each will contribute 20,000 troops to new, integrated army units. Rebels and the government also agreed to demobilize an unspecified number of troops, Mr. Kwaje said.

The war pitted the Arab-dominated north against southern rebels consisting mainly of Christians and followers of traditional faiths.

Under the accord, Sudan will rewrite the constitution to ensure that Islamic law, or Shariah, is not applied to non-Muslims anywhere in the country, Mr. Kwaje said.

U.N. and U.S. officials hope a solution to the civil war will spur a resolution to a separate conflict between government-backed forces and rebels in the western Darfur region, where disease and hunger have killed 70,000 people since early last year.

Nearly 2 million people are thought to have fled their homes since the Darfur crisis began.

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