Sudan military to begin observing ceasefire Tuesday

Jan 21 (AFP)

Sudan's armed forces were ordered to begin observing a six-month ceasefire in central Sudan at noon (0900 GMT) Tuesday, local time, the military said in a statement.

Sudan's armed forces "will be instrumental in achieving the objectives of the (ceasefire) agreement out of their firm belief that dialogue is the best means for reaching peace and for avoiding war and its negative effects on the nation and the population," spokesman General Mohamed Beshir Suleiman said Monday.

The truce aimed at allowing humanitarian supplies to reach the Nuba mountains, was hammered out between Khartoum and the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) in talks in Switzerland on Saturday, and was scheduled to go into effect within 72 hours. It is renewable on a six-monthly basis.

The central Sudanese Nuba mountains region is only one part of a huge area of Sudan 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 south -- since 1983.

The government has also been fighting northern groups who took up arms in 1995 in a conflict which has left between one million and 1.5 million people dead and four million people displaced.

Suleiman said he hoped that the agreement "will be an effective step for achieving comprehensive peace" throughout Sudan.