Sudan

Reported attack threatens Sudan government's role as peacemaker

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The United States says a reported attack and aerial bombardment on the town of Leer in Western Upper Nile, "constitute a flagrant violation of the cessation of hostilities agreed to in a Memorandum of Understanding...between the Government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement."
"If these reports are true," said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher in a statement issued January 27, "Khartoum risks losing its credibility as a serious partner for peace with both the United States and the international community."

Following is the text of the statement:

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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
January 27, 2003

Statement by Richard Boucher, Spokesman

SUDAN: UNITED STATES DEEPLY CONCERNED AT REPORTS OF CONTINUED GOVERNMENT OFFENSIVES, LENDS SUPPORT TO CESSATION OF HOSTILITIES MONITORING MECHANISM

The United States is deeply concerned at the reports of a continuing offensive undertaken by the Government of Sudan and its proxies in southern Sudan, as well as the Government's continuing build-up of forces at garrisons in the south.

A number of sources report that on Sunday, the Government of Sudan attacked the town of Leer in Western Upper Nile, southern Sudan, using troops and aerial bombardments.

Any ongoing offensive by the Government in Western Upper Nile, as well as related build-ups of military forces at garrisons in the south, constitute a flagrant violation of the cessation of hostilities agreed-to in a Memorandum of Understanding signed in Machakos, Kenya on October 15, 2002 between the Government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement. If these reports are true, Khartoum risks losing its credibility as a serious partner for peace with both the United States and the international community.

At the request of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, which is mediating the peace talks, the United States has offered the services of the Civilian Protection Monitoring Team (CPMT) to assist in investigating the latest attack. Efforts are underway to expand the CPMT to facilitate efforts to monitor the cessation of hostilities as called for in the Memorandum of Understanding. CPMT teams are presently enroute to the scene of the reported attack.

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(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)