Both sides agree to secession for southern Sudan
Approximately two million people have died in 19 years of civil war in Sudan. On Saturday the country's Islamic government and the largely Christian south reached a basic agreement that may lead to a full peace accord.

After five weeks of negotiations, the Khartoum government has agreed to terms for the Sudan People's Liberation Army's (SPLA) biggest demand, independence. Under the deal, a six-year transition period will be followed by a referendum offering secession to Christians and animists in the south.

Until then, the Sudan government has agreed not to force Islamic law on Christians.

The two sides have not agreed on a ceasefire but one is expected by September. According to the BBC, both sides are under intense U.S. pressure to reach a deal and have agreed to continue negotiations through August.

According to Nairobi's The Nation, a female member of the SPLA wept as the deal was reached. "I cannot believe this, or my God, how sweet is the news, after all these years of civil strife," she cried. "Now we will have something good to tell our people who have suffered beyond repair."

However, six years is a long time. As the BBC reports, both sides are cautious and "there is still a long way to go before the Sudanese can be assured of a new era of peace."

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