US to Give $3m in Support of Sudan Rebels
The US State Department has reached an agreement to supply $3 million in logistical support to a Sudanese opposition alliance that includes the main group fighting for autonomy in the African country's war-torn southern provinces, government sources familiar with the arrangement told the Washington Post.
Under a contract with DynCorp, a Reston government and defense contractor, the Bush administration will provide funding for office space, equipment, radios, vehicles, staff and training in an effort to enhance the political effectiveness of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the sources said.
The goal, they said, would be to strengthen the alliance's position as it confronts Sudan's Islamic government, led by President Omar Hassan Al Bashir, a general who took power in a military coup in 1989.
While the NDA was constituted as an umbrella organization of opposition groups across Sudan, some analysts, human rights groups and Sudanese experts have expressed concern that the aid program could fuel government fears of heightened US support for an 18-year-old rebellion in the south, said the paper.
"This package feeds false hopes and expectations on the part of the southerners and sustains excessive paranoia in Khartoum," said Steve Morrison, a Sudan and Africa specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
In Khartoum, the Sudanese government announced that it would unilaterally cease air strikes against southern rebels starting on Friday, the Post said.
The government statement, read on state radio on Thursday, gave no reason for the move and did not say how long it would last.
Sudan in April rejected a Sudan Popular Liberation Army (SPLA) ceasefire call that said the Islamist government should halt oil exports and prospecting until a peace deal was reached.
The SPLA has in the past threatened to attack oil facilities in the south, alleging that oil revenues help the government finance a civil war that has killed an estimated 2 million people and displaced around 4 million – Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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