August 23, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s president Omer Al-Bashir has announced a temporary ceasefire in the country’s war-stricken state of South Kordofan, two days after talks with the rebels Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) dissolved in disagreement.
Al-Bashir, who was addressing a conference on civil administration, according to the country’s official news agency SUNA, said that the ceasefire would last for two weeks during which the situation will be re-assessed and SPLM-N’s reaction observed.
The announcement comes two days after a meeting held in Khartoum between Al-Bashir and SPLM-N leader Malik Aggar failed to revive efforts seeking a negotiated solution to the crisis.
According to the SPLM-N, the meeting failed because Al-Bashir insisted that any talks between his ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and the SPLM must be conducted directly and without the involvement of a third party.
Al-Bashir said that the announcement stems from the government’s keenness on peace. “We will seek an end to the war and peace in South Kordofan.”
Fighting between Sudan’s army and SPLM-N rebels in South Kordofan erupted in early June after Al-Bashir ordered the forcible disbarment of SPLM-N fighters following the secession of South Sudan with which the rebels were previously aligned.
UN estimates that at least 200,000 people in South Kordofan have been killed, injured or forced to flee their homes and land since the fighting erupted.
Sudan this week announced through its UN envoy that the government will let six UN agencies access South Kordofan under the supervision of the country’s humanitarian coordinator to assess the situation.
However, Al-Bashir today appeared to contradict his country’s acceptance, saying he had ordered the authorities not to allow a single foreign agency into South Kordofan. He added that the government would carry out aid operations through the Sudanese Red Crescent.
Sudanese officials vowed not to allow South Kordofan to become “a new Darfur,” in reference to the country’s western region where conflict forced millions from their homes into displacement camps.