Arab League brings Eastern Sudan into focus

Dina Ezzat, Sunday 28 Nov 2010

An Arab conference on the development of East Sudan is to be held in Kuwait 1-2 December

Amre Mussa
AFP: Arab league chief at a press conference in early November

An Arab conference on the development of East Sudan is scheduled to take place in Kuwait on 1 and 2 December, decided an Arab League meeting yesterday.

The meeting at the headquarters of the pan-Arab organisation  underlined the need for Arab attention to go to East Sudan.

East Sudan suffers from serious underdevelopment problems as well as inter-tribal disputes but world, and indeed Arab, attention has been focused on Darfur, in western Sudan, and the south.

The conference will be attended by representatives Arab member-states and Arab development orgnisations. It will also be attended by international development organisations.

Meanwhile, the Arab League meeting reiterated commitment to support peace and security in Darfur and South Sudan.

The Arab meeting, held at the level of permanent representatives, called on Qatar, Libya and Egypt to continue work that aims at concluding a peace deal between the Khartoum regime and the Darfur rebel groups. It also appealed to the rebel groups to agree on a common agenda of demands to facilitate the conclusion of a peace deal.

The meeting was held as the commission organising Sudan's 9 January referendum on southern independence had said that it has extended voter registration by one week – until 8 December.

The registration process was launched on 15 November and was due to end on 1 December.   

The leaders of north and south Sudan have still to come to an agreement on a number of pending issues, including the demarcation line between the north and south, before the referendum is held.

Today, following the Arab meeting, Arab League Secretary-General Amre Moussa welcomed the efforts of the north and south leaders to settle their differences ahead of the referendum but stopped short of anticipating a timely resolution of these conflicts.

Independent observes and regional diplomats have doubts that the volume of pending issues could be fully and successfully resolved by 9 January. They suggest it is "possible" for the leaders of the south to agree to "a technical delay of few weeks" to allow for the completion of all required pre-referendum measures.    

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