Sudan

Sudan: Government, rebels sign new MOU on cessation of hostilities

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NAIROBI, 4 February (IRIN) - The government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Tuesday to reaffirm their commitment to the total cessation of hostilities, spokespersons from both sides told IRIN.
The spokesman at the Sudanese embassy in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, Muhammad Dirdiery, said the MOU provided, for the first time, for a verification mechanism to monitor all ceasefire violations. "In case of any violations, the party will have to surrender the area taken," he added.

The monitoring team would consist of representatives from the government, the SPLM/A, the US, the UK, Italy and Norway, and they would start "immediately", said Dirdiery. The existing US-led Civilian Protection Monitoring Team monitoring team would be incorporated into the new team, he added.

"This means that the war which has continued for 19 years has been brought to an end," said Dirdiery, adding that the ceasefire would cover the entire country.

A spokesperson from the SPLM/A was not immediately available for further comment.

On 31 January a pro-government militia group in Sudan, the South Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SSLM/A), had captured the town of Akobo in Upper Nile State, Dirdiery told IRIN.

The town had been under the control of the SSLM/A until 19 October, he added, when the SPLM/A retook it in breach of the previous MOU on the cessation of hostilities, signed by both sides to the conflict on 17 October. George Garang, an SPLA spokesman, confirmed to IRIN that the town had been taken by about 1,700 soldiers, who were assisted by helicopter gunships.

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