Government Declares Ceasefire in South Sudan
The Sudanese government has declared a two-week ceasefire in all parts of southern Sudan to coincide with peace talks with southern rebels, state radio announced Friday.
"The ceasefire has been decided to create an atmosphere conducive to reaching peace and stopping the bloodshed among the Sudanese people," said a statement from Information Minister Ghazi Salah Eddin Atabani, who is also the government's official spokesman.
The government started an open-ended session of talks with the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) in Kenya Thursday, attended by US and European observers.
A Sudanese diplomat told AFP on Wednesday that the current round would focus on the issue of the separation of state and religion, self-administration for the south and the right to self-determination.
Both parties to the conflict have been in fruitless negotiations since the 1993 start of talks sponsored by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a group of seven east African nations.
Sudan's civil war, spearheaded by the SPLA, is set against a background of resistance by the mainly animist and Christian south to the Islamic regime in Khartoum.
Over the past few years several ceasefires have been announced, but they have not always been respected – KHARTOUM (AFP)
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