No country with "aggressive record" to monitor Sudan ceasefire: Khartoum

KHARTOUM
Jan 20, 2002 (AFP)

No country with an "aggressive record towards Sudan" will be allowed to provide observers to monitor a just concluded ceasefire in central Sudan, a senior government representative said Sunday.

"The Sudan (government) has set some conditions" on the ceasefire, Presidential Peace Adviser Ghazi Salah Eddin Atabani told journalists.

"The most important of (the conditions) is that the country which will participate as the third party, first, should not have an aggressive record towards Sudan and, secondly, should not be suspected of taking sides in the current conflict," Atabani said.

The "international observation" referred to in the accord "does not mean an international body like the United Nations or a peace-keeping force that maintains a foothold in Sudan," Atabani added.

The Sudanese government and the country's main rebel group, the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) signed a six-month ceasefire agreement Saturday aimed at ending fighting in the Nuba Mountains and allowing humanitarian aid into the region.

Under the agreement, a truce-monitoring commission will be set up, to be staffed by both government and rebel representatives, and with a neutral chairman.

The accord, which was due to come into force within 72 hours of the signing, also provides for an International Monitoring Unit of 10-15 foreign observers from countries agreed to by both sides.

"There are many countries that can participate in goodwill in the mechanism for observing and reporting on a violation of the ceasefire," Atabani said.

Khartoum still insists that the agreement be "a prelude to achieving a comprehensive peace," Atabani says.

"The agreement comes in the interest of the Sudan and cannot be described as a negative agreement, but it is a positive one, although it was less than what the government has always called for," he said, presumably a reference to Khartoum's call for a comprehensive ceasefire throughout Sudan.

The Nuba mountains region of central Sudan is only one part of a huge area of the country affected by a civil war which has pitted successive Arab and Muslim governments in Khartoum against the SPLA -- mainly composed of animists and Christians from the southern part of the country -- since 1983.