Sudanese army, SPLA exchange prisoners in Nuba region
5 May, 2002 (PANA)
The Sudanese army and the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) have exchanged their first prisoners of war in the south-western Nuba Mountains region under a six-month truce brokered by the US, Sunday press reports said in Khartoum.
According to a report in the daily newspaper Akhbar el Youm, the SPLA released seven Sudan army soldiers on Thursday while on Friday the army reciprocated and freed 14 SPLA captives.
The POWs exchange took place at the Kawda truce line outpost south of Kadugli town, the South Kordufan State's regional capital.
The Sunday paper quoted Gen. Jan Eric, an American leading the joint committee of Western observers assigned to monitor the cease-fire, as saying that conditions were stable along the truce line.
"We can see that both parties are committed to the cease-fire," said Gen. Eric. "No violations were monitored since the truce came into effect two months ago," he said.
Eric considered the exchange of POWs "an important step along the road towards confidence-building and final peace between the warring parties."
The Nuba Mountains truce signed in Geneva on 1 January 2002 and which is renewable every six months, seeks to create favourable conditions for the delivery of food aid to the area's population.
It calls for the opening of roads by removing land mines and the rehabilitation of infrastructures.
The Nuba Mountains region is part of Northern Sudan. However, frustrated by what they termed as "neglect of the area" by successive governments in Khartoum, groups of Nuba citizens joined the SPLA in the 1990s and overran several localities in the mountainous region
US peace mediators hope the Nuba truce could be replicated in southern Sudan, where government and SPLA forces have been fighting since 1982.
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