/ 11 March 2008

Sudan’s Bashir raises doubt over peace accord

Sudan President Omar al-Bashir on Tuesday raised doubts over a peace deal that Senegal said the leaders of Sudan and Chad are to initial in Dakar on the eve of an Islamic summit.

Bashir referred to a Saudi-brokered deal signed in Riyadh in May 2007, when the two leaders made a pilgrimage to Mecca and prayed together inside the Kaaba, the holiest Muslim shrine.

”After the prayers inside the Kaaba, hand in hand, we said: ‘We have a deal, and may Allah punish he who breaks it’,” Bashir told a press conference in Dubai at the end of a three-day visit to the United Arab Emirates.

”If the Chadian president failed to honour an agreement made inside the Kaaba, how can you expect him to adhere to an agreement he [might] sign in Dakar?” he asked.

”We already have five [peace] agreements signed with Chad,” Bashir said.

Shortly before the Saudi-brokered deal was reached, Libyan leader Moammar Gadaffi brokered a peace accord last year, but it was never implemented by either side.

And in February 2007, Sudan, Chad and the Central African Republic agreed not to support rebellions abroad from their own territory.

United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon will be watching as the leaders of Chad and Sudan make a new attempt on Wednesday to seal a peace accord amid mounting tensions along their border.

Chad’s President, Idriss Déby Itno, and Bashir are to meet on the eve of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference summit in Senegal.

Senegal President Abdoulaye Wade has said Déby and Bashir will initial an agreement ending the dispute between the two African neighbours that has festered since 2003.

But neither country has made a firm commitment to the accord, the latest in a series mounted to try to end the dispute that has exacerbated efforts to contain the conflict in Sudan’s troubled Darfur region on the border.

In the latest incident, Chadian rebels stormed the capital, Ndjamena, at the start of February in a bid to overthrow Déby. Chad said the rebels used bases in Sudan and were armed by its government, charges denied by Khartoum. — AFP