The Swiss foreign ministry has welcomed a landmark peace deal between Sudan’s government and southern rebels, which ends Africa’s longest civil war.
The treaty was signed on Sunday in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi in the presence of foreign dignitaries including United States Secretary of State Colin Powell.
“The foreign ministry hopes that the parties will do everything to actively put the peace accord into practice and that... they will benefit from support from the international community,” said the ministry in a statement on Sunday.
Sudan's vice-president, Ali Osman Mohammed Taha, and John Garang, chairman of the Sudan People's Liberation Army, signed the peace agreement at a lavish ceremony in neighbouring Kenya, where peace talks have been taking place since 1997.
If implemented, it would bring to an end a conflict which began over 20 years ago, pitting Sudan's Islamic government against rebels seeking greater autonomy and a greater share of the country's wealth for the largely animist south.
The conflict is estimated to have resulted in more than two million deaths, primarily from war-induced famine and disease.
The deal calls for an autonomous south with its own army, national power and wealth sharing, religious freedom and a new constitution during a six-year interim period.
At the end of that period, the ten southern states will hold a referendum on whether to become independent.
But the deal does not cover the separate, newer conflict in the western region of Darfur, where government-backed militia are accused of killing thousands as part of a campaign against rebels demanding more rights.
The region is currently undergoing what the United Nations has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
“The foreign ministry hopes that the deal negotiated between the north and the south will open the way to peace in other regions of the country, in particular in Darfur,” said the foreign ministry.
Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey visited Darfur last June and called for a political solution to end the crisis.
The conflict has so far claimed the lives of an estimated 70,000 people and left up to two million homeless.
swissinfo with agencies
The deal was signed on Sunday in Nairobi, Kenya.
It puts an end to a conflict that started over 20 years ago and has resulted in an estimated two million deaths.
In Dafur, a separate conflict has killed an estimated 70,000 and left two million homeless.
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