Gov't, rebels meet to discuss aftermath of war

A two-day meeting is due to begin on Wednesday in Washington to continue planning for a post-war period in Sudan, when expanded humanitarian assistance will be available to the country.

The meeting, to be hosted by the US State Department, will bring together representatives from the government of Sudan, the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), donors and the United Nations.

A Joint Planning Mechanism (JPM), which is co-chaired by the government and the SPLM/A, has been mandated to assist both sides to assess needs, develop priorities and draw up action plans for implementation. The Washington meeting follows two others held in the Netherlands in April, and in Kenya in May.

Priority areas for the JPM include the return and reintegration of displaced people and refugees, economic development including the development of small-scale enterprises, the building of infrastructure, rehabilitation of basic services in the areas of health, education and sanitation, mine action programmes, and the development of a "peace culture".

An agreement on capacity building and the creation of the JPM, signed by both sides on 10 May, says there is a need for a programme that provides "rapid tangible benefits" to the Sudanese in the first six months after a peace agreement, as well as long-term development. "These processes must start immediately and run parallel to the ongoing peace process," it continues.

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have been requested to support the JPM with technical assistance.

The latest session of peace talks between the government and the SPLM/A began on Sunday in the Kenyan town of Nakuru. They are expected to last for seven days and to yield a draft final peace agreement by mid-August.