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Egypt hosting a conference between NCP & SPLM on Sunday

February 20, 2010 (KHARTOUM) – The Egyptian government will be hosting a three-day conference between the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) in the latest move by Cairo ahead of April elections and the 2011 referendum.

Nafi Ali Nafi, presidential advisor and member of the northern ruling National Congress Party, left, and Pagan Amum, secretary general of the main southern party and partner in unity government, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, right, seen at a press conference in Khartoum (AP)

The official Egyptian news agency (MENA) said that the NCP official will be headed by Sudanese presidential assistant Nafie Ali Nafie and SPLM by its secretary General Pagan Amum.

MENA quoted an unidentified Egyptian official as saying that the summit “comes in recognition by Egypt of a common destinies between the two states and historical linkage, present and future, which brings together the two brotherly peoples”.

The official said that the conference will contribute to meet the challenges experienced by the Sudan and strengthen the unity and stability of Darfur to provide security and stability throughout the country.

It is not clear why the Darfur issue has been included on the agenda of the meeting between SPLM and NCP. The Sudanese government today signed in Chad an agreement with the Darfur rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).

A few weeks ago sources told Sudan Tribune that Cairo has invited the NCP and SPLM for a conference aimed mainly at discussing the “Sudan’s unity and postponement of elections”.

Cairo has been stepping up its efforts for more engagement in Sudanese political issues after losing ground to other regional and international players such as Libya and Qatar. The Egyptian government is particularly concerned about the fate of South Sudan which will decide next year whether it wants to become a separate state.

It was revealed earlier this month that Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak made rare remarks speaking of “peaceful” separation between North and South Sudan. He has reportedly criticized Khartoum for lacking the will to preserve the unity and warning that there are regional powers wanting to fuel conflict in the area which he described as “vital to Egypt”.

Egypt fears the impact of South Sudan independence on the Nile water agreement and the possible reallocation of share with the new state even though legal experts say that the water agreements are still binding to the new state.