Nuba Mountains ceasefire extended until January

25 June (IRIN)

The ceasefire in the Nuba mountains, which was signed by Sudanese government and the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) in January 2002, has been extended for the third time until 19 January 2004.

"The population in the Nuba mountains has now enjoyed freedom of movement for the past 17 months and living and working conditions have significantly improved," said a statement released on Tuesday by the Joint Monitoring Mission (JMM) and the Joint Military Commission (JMC), which are mandated by the two sides to supervise the ceasefire.

The monitoring bodies said they had observed "no major violations of the ceasefire".

The statement also said the JMM and the UN Mine Actions Service had demined, opened and improved a series of roads, from Kadugli to Kauda, Dilling to Julud, various roads in Miri Jebels, and they were working on the road between Kadugli and Talodi. This had led to the delivery of "vast quantities" of humanitarian aid by the UN and other agencies, the statement said.

A group of 12 nations supporting the peace process in the region, known as the Friends of the Nuba Mountains, had indicated that they were willing to secure the financial needs of the monitoring mission, the statement added.

Commenting on the ceasefire, JMC head Brigadier General Jan Erik Wilhelmsen said it was "clear that the people want peace and development and they believe that JMC is an important factor in the process of achieving this for the future".