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SPLA, Khartoum Deal is a Gamble

If the peace agreement signed in Kenya on January 9 really ends the 21-year-old Sudanese civil war, the killing will stop and millions of refugees will be able to go home - but the deal carries a big risk for Africa. As The Nation put it in Nairobi: "One of the elements of the settlement is that the south has the right to secede after six years. This is the first time in Africa that a peace settlement has recognised the right to secession." That's not strictly true, since the almost equally long war in Ethiopia ended in the early '90s with independence for Eritrea. But Eritrea could be treated as an exception because it had already been a separate entity in colonial times; the Sudan deal is different. The basic rule that Africa's old colonial borders must never be changed, adopted by the Organisation of African Unity (now the African Union) at the dawn of independent Africa, is starting to break down.

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