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Sudanese papers hail end to political crisis, warn ex-southern rebels

BBC Monitoring

Sudanese newspapers have welcomed the return of the former rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) to the unity government that ended weeks of a debilitating political crisis.

The return to government of the SPLM, which is the main political grouping in the south, was announced on 12 December, during a press conference in Khartoum by a six-member panel comprising representatives from the ex-rebels and its peace partner, the National Congress Party (NCP) of President Umar al-Bashir.

The SPLM pulled out its ministers out of the federal cabinet in October 2007, accusing the NCP of undermining the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended the war between the north and south early 2005.

Front page news

Leading Khartoum-based newspapers - both Arabic and English language - reported on SPLM's return in their front pages. Some pro-southern dailies also carried editorials and commentaries warning the SPLM of the "heavy responsibilities" ahead and the need for a national reconciliation conference.

In a front page report headlined "North-South bonding mechanism formed", the private English-language Sudan Tribune noted that both the SPLM and NCP had "co-launched a mechanism to tie the country - north and south -, regardless of the results of self-determination referendum". Similar sentiments were evident in the paper's editorial headlined "Against all predictions, the crisis is solved", which said that the SPLM and NCP had "superseded the [CPA] partnership itself by creating mechanisms to ensure strong ties between the south and north, even after the referendum of 2011". According to the Sudan Tribune, "this is the sign of the k! ind of forward-thinking that has been lacking so much in Sudanese politics".

Similar comments also appeared in a page one report by the pro-opposition Ra'y al-Sha'ab that said that NCP and SPLM had launched "an initiative for national reconciliation among political forces".

The reconciliation theme was also evident in the private Al-Ahdath, whose story headlined "The matrix resolves the crisis", said that the NCP and SPLM had agreed to launch "a mechanism for national reconciliation and boosting democracy" in the country.

The headline in the pro-north Al-Intibaha, which is opposed to the CPA, was terse: "The SPLM: We will not suspend again". The pro-government Akhbar al-Yawm didn't carry the report on its front page, but published the entire text of the press conference on Page 9. The paper also carried reactions to the end of the stand-off.

Two other dailies - the private Al-Ra'y al-Amm and the liberal Al-Sahafah - published fa! ctual reports on the issue on their front pages, but not as the main h eadline.

Relocating government

The private Al-Sudani paper opted to concentrate on the announcement by the committee that some government sessions will alternate every quarter between Khartoum and Juba, the capital of the south. The Al-Sudani piece was headlined "Juba to alternate with Khartoum as national capital".

A similar headline was observed on the pro-government Akhir Lahzah that carried the story on its front page under the banner "The presidency of the republic decides to relocate Sudan's capital to Juba every three months to follow up the situation in south."


Despite the positive reaction, Alfred Taban, the editor of the pro-south Khartoum Monitor daily, warned the SPLM to remain vigilant in regards to the success of the CPA.

In a commentary entitled "SPLM to return to GoNU", Taban noted that while the end to the crisis was "a welcome development", it, however, carried "a big responsibility" for the SPLM in terms of ensuring success of the peace accord.

Khartoum Monitor also carried an editorial entitled "Boycott to end" that urged a national reconciliation conference to "take place as soon as possible" with the aim of healing "the national trauma and settle differences resulting from the continuous war in the country".

Source: BBC Monitoring research in English 13 Dec 07


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