Sudan balks at US-proposed ceasefire in Nuba Mountains

Nov 27 (AFP)

Sudan has voiced reservations to US special envoy John Danforth about his proposal for a ceasefire in Sudan's central Nuba Mountains as part of his mission to end 18 years of civil war, President Omar al-Beshir was quoted as saying Tuesday.

Beshir, quoted by state-run radio and television as well as independent newspapers, said the ceasefire must also include neighboring areas through which a government oil pipeline travels.

"We have expressed to the American presidential envoy our reservation towards the partial (Nuba area) ceasefire he has proposed," Beshir was quoted as saying during a briefing with media executives late Sunday.

Danforth discussed the ceasefire and other confidence-building ideas when he visited here earlier this month on his first peace mission since he was appointed pointman for Sudan by US President George W. Bush in September.

A ceasefire should include the pipeline which crosses the Nuba Mountains as well as the oil-production sites which are near those mountains, Beshir said.

In case of a ceasefire, Beshir said both the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) rebels and government troops "must stay within their respective barracks while the civil administration be run by the government of Southern Kordofan State."

The interview came too late for Monday's newspapers and the broadcast media appeared to have timed the report with the print media.

The SPLA, which recruits mainly from animists and Christians in the south and central regions, has been fighting successive Arab and Muslim governments in Khartoum since 1983.

Northern opposition groups joined the rebels in 1995, after Beshir took power in a 1989 coup backed by Islamic fundamentalists.