Sudan rebels offer "tranquility" and not ceasefire
The Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) "wants to make clear its position. We do not accept a ceasefire as proposed by the government," rebel spokesman Yasser Arman said on the telephone from Eritrea.
"We are ready to create a conducive atmosphere for the talks once they are resumed by observing restraint and not engaging in offensive actions -- what we call days of tranquility -- when the talks are actually in session," he said.
Khartoum has demanded a nationwide ceasefire as its price for resuming peace talks previously held in Machakos, Kenya, which it abandoned on September 2 in protest at the SPLA's capture of the key southern garrison town of Torit.
The Kenyan chairman of the talks, General Lazaros Symbio, is due Tuesday in Khartoum to convince the regime of President Omar al-Beshir to return to the negotiating table.
The government and the SPLA were negotiating in Machakos the implementation of a preliminary accord brokered by the United States, Britain and Norway to end the 19-year war, signed in the same town in July.
Under the agreement, the mainly Christian and animist south were to enjoy six years of self-rule, before deciding in a referendum whether it wants to secede or remain part of Sudan, which is dominated by the Arab and Muslim north.
Meanwhile, Arman accused Khartoum of keeping up military pressure to recover Torit and other regions of Eastern Equatoria province despite Symbio's visit.
Government troops "attempted to go round our positions but they failed," he said.
Arman pointed out that if the talks resume, the SPLA would bring up the issue of the actual boundaries of the self-rule region despite Khartoum's insistence that it should only cover ten out of Sudan's 26 provinces.
He added the SPLA would also seek a restructuring of the central government to increase the south's influence.
Copyright (c) 2002 Agence France-Presse
Received by NewsEdge Insight: 10/01/2002 16:50:48
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