Top Sudanese official dies in car accident

A top Sudanese presidential adviser who played a key role in Darfur peace negotiations died early Wednesday in a car accident, a government official said.Majzoub Khalifa was driving on a road from his home village to the capital with his brother Khawadh Khalifa when their car flipped over in a road accident at dawn on Wednesday, Sudan’s presidential spokesman Majzoub Faidul told the Associated Press.

The two brothers died of their injuries near the northern Sudan town of Shendi some 180 kilometres north of Khartoum,  he said.

Sudanese television interrupted its usual programmes shortly after and ran recitations of the Koran  in sign of mourning.

Khalifa was one of the most senior aides to Sudan’s President Omar Bashir. They hailed from the same dominant Arab tribe, the Jaaly, and Khalifa was a top member of the ruling National Congress Party.

He negotiated and signed on behalf of Sudan the May 2006 Darfur Peace Agreement meant to end bloodshed in the remote western Sudanese region where over 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million made refugee since a local rebellion erupted four years ago.

Bashir “mourns… a leading Sudanese figure and a symbol of national and Islamic action: the late Doctor Majzoub Khalifa,” the official news agency, SUNA, quoted a presidential statement as saying.

Faidul said the president would attend his adviser’s funeral in his home village of Taibat Khawad.

Born in 1952, Khalifa was a medical doctor by training. He was a senior figure in the Islamist movement that planned the bloodless military coup that brought Bashir to power in 1989. Khalifa became agriculture minister, and then held the influential position of governor of the state of Khartoum.

Considered a relative hardliner in the NCP, he reportedly held strong sway on government affairs through his informal position as presidential adviser, and was considered the Sudanese point man for all matters related to Darfur.

Since being named presidential adviser in August 2005, Khalifa spearheaded Sudanese efforts to solve the crisis, signing the 2006 peace deal in Abuja, Nigeria, with one Darfur rebel group and negotiating with other factions since.

The United Nations mission in Sudan expressed its “heartfelt condolences” to Khalifa’s family and the Sudanese government.

Khalifa “will be remembered as a tenacious negotiator and a high calibre statesman, and for his contribution to the peaceful resolution of the Darfur conflict through the Abuja peace process,” the UN said in a statement.


King offers condolences

AMMAN (JT) – His Majesty King Abdullah sent a cable to Sudanese President Omar Hassan Bashir offering his condolences over the death of adviser Majzoub al-Khalifa and his brother, killed in a car accident on Wednesday, the Jordan News Agency, Petra repor.

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