Sudan says people moving freely in ceasefire area

Jan 27 (Reuters)

People are starting to move freely in the Nuba mountains region of central Sudan in line with a ceasefire agreement between the government and rebel forces, a Sudanese newspaper reported on Sunday.

"The movement of citizens has started to take a natural form," Foreign Ministry undersecretary Mutrif Sidig, a peace adviser, was quoted as saying in the government-owned Al-Anbaa newspaper. "This is an indication of the success of the Switzerland (ceasefire) agreement."

The government and representatives of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, the political wing of the main guerrilla group, agreed this month to stop fighting in the Nuba region, which is facing a humanitarian crisis after 19 years of civil war. The ceasefire came into effect on Tuesday.

The two sides, who reached the agreement at talks in Switzerland, also agreed to allow civilians to move freely inside the 80,000 sq km (31,000 sq mile) Nuba region and to allow access by air to humanitarian aid.

Sidig said many people in the region had travelled into government-held areas from those under rebel control.

He did not comment on charges by the Sudan People's Liberation Army, made on Thursday, that the government had violated the ceasefire.

In broad terms, the war in Sudan pits rebel groups fighting for greater autonomy in the mainly Christian and animist south against the Islamic government in Khartoum in the north.