- The Washington Times - Friday, November 4, 2005

Unity in Sudan remains fragile as many in the country’s south have yet to see a “peace dividend” from their decision earlier this year to end the country’s 21-year-old civil war, the region’s top political leader warned yesterday.

Salva Kiir, first vice president in the new unity government in Khartoum and president of the regional government in southern Sudan, complained that foreign donors have delivered only a tiny fraction of the more than $2 billion in aid promised at a much-touted donors’ conference for Sudan in Norway this spring.

“In southern Sudan, we have no development, no capacity to build institutions. Our capital, Juba, has no electricity, no water in the taps,” Mr. Kiir said in a speech during a visit to Washington this week.

“Our people see no peace dividend in the south. If they do not see anything, they will ask what was this peace with the north all about?”

Mr. Kiir, making his first Washington visit since joining the unity government in Khartoum in August, was thrust into the international spotlight following the July 30 death of longtime southern rebel commander John Garang.

Mr. Garang was killed in a plane crash just after he joined the unity government in a U.S.-backed peace deal designed to end more than two decades of fighting between north and south Sudan that took an estimated 2 million lives.

But that peace deal did not address the separate conflict in Sudan’s western Darfur region, where ethnic rebel groups have been battling brutal Arab militias backed by Khartoum. The Bush administration has labeled the violence against Darfur’s civilian population genocide.

Mr. Kiir’s visit included meetings with Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Deputy Secretary of State Robert B. Zoellick. Mr. Zoellick plans a trip to Sudan and Kenya next week.

U.S. officials have warned that Sudan must do more to curb violence in Darfur. U.N. Ambassador John R. Bolton said this week leading Sudanese officials could be targeted for sanctions if Darfur continues to deteriorate.

Mr. Kiir held out hope that a new round of talks between the government and the Darfur rebels could make progress, as the southern Sudanese would be taking part in the talks for the first time.

“We did not participate in the Darfur talks before because we felt we did not have input,” he said. “Now we will participate, and it is our determination that we could have a peace agreement by the end of the year.”

Mr. Kiir said he was also under pressure from southern Sudanese over a decision to give control of the critical government oil ministry to a northern candidate, despite the fact that the overwhelming bulk of the country’s reserves are in the south.

“Our people are blaming me for having sold out, but we did not think it was worth going back to war over the control of one ministry,” he said.

The peace accord gives the south the right to vote on whether to secede from Khartoum in six years, and many analysts say it is likely the south will vote to leave.

Mr. Kiir said there was a growing feeling in the south that “we are buying our own independence through oil.”

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