SUDAN: Talks seeking truce extension to start tomorrow 1998.11.16

SUDAN: Talks seeking truce extension to start tomorrow 1998.11.16

SUDAN: Talks seeking truce extension to start tomorrow

NAIROBI, 16 November 1998 (IRIN) - Talks between the government of Sudan, the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the UN are scheduled to start tomorrow (Tuesday) in Rome, Italy, to discuss ways of improving the delivery of humanitarian assistance in the country.

The meeting of the Technical Committee on Humanitarian Assistance is to be chaired by UN Assistant Emergency Relief Coordinator Ross Mountain. The UN Humanitarian Coordination Unit (UNHCU) in Khartoum said the government delegation is to be led by State Minister James Mabor of the Southern States Coordinating Council. The Senior Advisor to SPLM Chairman on Political Affairs, Elijah Majok Aleng, is to lead the rebel team. The delegations were to hold preparatory discussions in Rome today.

The convening of the meeting was called for by the regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) at the end of the inconclusive Sudan peace talks held in August in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. A representative from the Kenyan government, which plays a leading role within IGAD in the peace efforts, will attend the Rome talks as an observer.

Issues to be discussed in Rome include measures to ensure the safety of humanitarian workers, the use of rail and cross-line road corridors for the delivery of relief supplies, and the extension of the current humanitarian ceasefire, UNHCU said. The current ceasefire, which started on 15 July, was extended by the government and the SPLM in early October. However, it expires in mid-January 1999 and is in effect only in famine-stricken Bahr al Ghazal.

The UN was expected to propose to the government and SPLM delegations that the ceasefire be extended at least until the next harvest in October 1999 and that it be expanded to cover "all areas of acute humanitarian need" in the country, not just Bahr al Ghazal, a UN official in Khartoum told IRIN. The ceasefire extension would enable OLS to deliver relief food and other emergency assistance to some 2.2 million needy people in southern Sudan. The ceasefire extension would also aim to stop population displacements and allow people to cultivate their own food.

Also scheduled to take place in Rome later this week is a meeting of the IGAD Partners Forum (IPF) for Sudan, comprised mainly of a group of donor countries and some UN agencies. The IPF, formerly known as the Friends of IGAD, has been striving to broker a ceasefire and to reinforce the peace process in the country.

In support of the IGAD-led peace process, UNDP is also pursuing its efforts to promote informal dialogue between the warring parties as a way to foster confidence-building and prepare for post-conflict recovery. The programme allows the parties to meet at a technical level - in neutral countries outside the political framework of peace negotiations - to discuss such issues as wealth and resource sharing and an appropriate basic education system for the country. It is based on the premise that the principal root causes of the civil war are poverty and social and economic exclusion, not race or religion. Several such meetings have already taken place with government and SPLM participation.

Meanwhile, UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast is scheduled to arrive in Khartoum on 22 November as part of efforts to explore how the UN could further contribute to resolving the conflict in the Sudan, a UN official told IRIN. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan last month asked Prendergast to travel to the region to help find ways of advancing peace prospects in Sudan and Somalia.


From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <> To: Subject: SUDAN: Talks seeking truce extension to start tomorrow 1998.11.16 Message-ID: <>

Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D

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