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A Milestone For Sudan

Umar al-Bashir, the president of Sudan, has sworn-in twenty-nine cabinet members to serve in the newly formed Sudanese unity government. Sixteen ministers are members of the ruling National Congress Party, nine are former rebels from Sudan's Popular Liberation Movement/Army, and four represent other political groups.

The ministers were selected under quotas agreed to under a January 2005 peace accord. The accord ended fighting between an Islamic government in Khartoum and the mostly animist and Christian Sudanese in the southern part of the country.

The twenty-year conflict led to the deaths of some two-million Sudanese, primarily from starvation and disease. Four-million other Sudanese have been left homeless.

The accord provides a new federalist framework for Sudan. It includes decentralization of political power and a more equitable distribution of revenue from oil production.

Along with implementing the peace accord, representatives from the Sudanese government have also been meeting with rebels from Sudan's western province of Darfur. Mediators from the African Union are seeking to end violence in Darfur that has caused the death of tens of thousands of people and the displacement of some one-million-eight-hundred-thousand others. Sudanese rebels in Darfur are fighting Arab militias backed by Sudanese government troops in a conflict that began in 2003.

U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack, says, "for the first time in Sudan's history, you have a government that is broadly representative of the people of that country and is not marred by the scars of the North-South conflict":

"It's important as a measure of progress in implementing the North-South agreement and it's important for dealing with Darfur because clearly now what you have in the capital is a more broad-based, more empowered central government that is being looked to by the international community as having...implemented its commitments and has increased authority to deal with unrest in Darfur."

In a written statement, President George W. Bush said, "All Sudanese can be proud of this significant progress, because it demonstrates the parties' continued commitment to a common vision of a unified, democratic, prosperous, and peaceful Sudan."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.