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Sudan leader says south might secede

Associated Press / October 27, 2009

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CAIRO - Southern Sudan might secede from the Muslim-dominated north of the country in an upcoming referendum because unity has become “unattractive,’’ the south’s leader said yesterday.

Salva Kiir accused the Khartoum government of never making “unity an attractive option’’ for the mostly Christian and animist southerners.

Sudan’s savage two-decade civil war ended in a 2005 peace agreement that included a provision for a 2011 referendum for the southerners to choose if they wanted to remain in the country.

A southern decision to secede could well reignite one of Africa’s worst conflicts, which has claimed 2 million lives.

“There is hope that Sudan may stay united if the other party is serious,’’ Kiir told reporters after a meeting yesterday with President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt to discuss Sudan’s conflicts.

Kiir also accused the northern government of failing to implement fully the peace agreement including the demarcation of the oil-rich border region between the north and the south.

He said the maps should be ready next month.

The peace deal put an end to the 21-year-old civil war between the mostly Arab and Muslim north and rebels in the Christian-animist south that left 2 million people dead and 4 million displaced.

But the deal is plagued by distrust between the two sides and has repeatedly threatened to unravel, bringing the two sides to the brink of war.