Former Sudan Foreign Minister, Lam Akolfounds, own party

Sudan’s former foreign minister Lam Akol said on Saturday he was leaving the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) to found his own rival faction ahead of elections set for February 2009.

The controversial southern politician told AFP he was founding SPLM-Democratic Change “to save (the SPLM) from the abyss it is falling into,” adding that the SPLM was “not democratic” and losing support in south Sudan.

Akol was named foreign minister in 2005 after his SPLM movement that fought two decades of civil war against Khartoum signed a power-sharing deal with the Sudan government. He was replaced by Deng Alor in October 2007.

“We are going to have candidates all over Sudan,” not just in the south, for next year’s election, Akol said.

Under the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the SPLM is currently in a government of national unity with President Omar al-Beshir’s National Congress Party and also heads the government of semi-autonomous south Sudan.

A referendum on independence for the south is scheduled for 2011, but Akol indicated that his new grouping had not yet formulated a policy on this.

Last month, southern Sudanese president Salva Kiir, who is also first vice president of Sudan, warned that the 2005 peace deal was “seriously threatened” by growing levels of violence.

Several rival ethnic groups have clashed in the south in recent months, leaving more than 1,000 dead and many thousands more displaced.


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