SPLM/A stresses limited time, scope of Nuba cease-fire

Jan 24, 2002 (IRIN)

The rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) on Thursday issued a statement confirming that all SPLA units in the Nuba Mountains region of Southern Kordofan had been ordered to "observe and extend the current military stand-down in the area", effective from 12 noon (local time) on Tuesday, 22 January.

This was bringing into force the Nuba cease-fire agreement signed in Burgenstock, Switzerland, on Saturday 19 January, SPLM/A spokesman in Nairobi, Samson Kwaje, stated.

Sudanese army spokesman General Muhammad Bashir Sulayman had previously said the army would observe the cease-fire from the same time, and would be "instrumental in achieving the objectives of the agreement" in the 80,000 square-kilometre south-central Nuba region.

In accordance with the terms of the Burgenstock agreement, the Nuba Mountains region covered by the cease-fire was "the whole of Southern Kordofan and the province of Legawa in Western Kordofan", and no others, Kwaje said.

The cease-fire was only for a period of six months and its renewal would depend on the experience of the initial cease-fire period, he stated.

"Its further renewal will also depend on continued needs for further humanitarian intervention in the Nuba area after a thorough evaluation process," Kwaje added.

The SPLM/A statement followed previous comments from the rebel movement in which it downplayed the national significance of the Nuba cease-fire agreement, saying that the negotiations leading up to the agreement had been of a technical nature and had not been peace talks, according to observers.

The government has repeatedly called for a comprehensive cease-fire throughout Sudan, but the SPLM/A is firmly opposed to gradual expansion of cease-fire agreements countrywide outside the context of a comprehensive political settlement to end the Sudanese civil war, they said.

"This agreement will make it possible for the Nuba people to receive international [humanitarian] assistance, but until and unless a comprehensive political settlement of the conflict in the Sudan is reached, the conflict in the Nuba Mountains is far from resolved," Commander Abdulaziz Adam Elhilu (Abd al-Aziz Adam al-Hulw), head of the SPLM/A Nuba delegation, told the Associated Press news agency in Switzerland.

The Nuba cease-fire agreement was negotiated at the initiative of the US, which launched a new initiative for humanitarian access and peace in Sudan following the appointment of the US special peace envoy, John Danforth, in early September 2001.

The agreement, which is due to be supervised by a Joint Military Commission, was agreed after six days of talks in Switzerland between government and SPLM/A Nuba delegations.