The following is an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government:
The Sudanese government and the rebel group called the Sudan People's Liberation Movement have signed an agreement to end almost twenty-two years of civil war. The conflict between an Islamic government in Khartoum against the mostly animist and Christian Sudanese in the south led to conditions in which two-million people died, primarily from famine and disease. Four-million were left homeless.
Sudan's first vice president, Ali Uthman Muhammad Taha, and the leader of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, John Garang, signed the accord. Under the agreement, the southern part of Sudan will gain religious and political autonomy and a share of country's oil wealth. Islamic law will apply to the north, but not the south. The south will have a six-year period of self-rule culminating in a referendum on whether the south remains part of Sudan. The agreement also calls for Mr. Garang to become Sudan's first vice president, replacing the current holder of that office, Mr. Taha.
The agreement provides a new federalist framework for all of Sudan, including decentralization of power to the states and the opening of the political system in Khartoum. Nevertheless, the agreement does not resolve the conflict in the Darfur region of western Sudan. Thousands of African Sudanese have been killed in attacks on their villages by Janjaweed Arab militias supported by the Sudanese government. The attacks have driven about two-million people into camps, where tens of thousands have died from disease and malnutrition. Secretary of State Colin Powell urged the government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement to end the conflict:
"These new partners for peace must work together immediately to end the violence and the atrocities that continue to occur in Darfur -- not next month or in the interim period, but right away, starting today. The United States and the world community expect the new partners to use all necessary means to stop the violence, and we expect to see rapid negotiation to resolve the crisis in Darfur."
The U.S. hopes to improve relations with Sudan, which has been under strict U.S. sanctions for many years. But Mr. Powell warned that "achieving this positive relationship will only be possible in the context of peace throughout the entire country."