AFRICA/SUDAN - GOVERNMENT AIRFORCE HITS TARGETS IN THE WEST BUT TALKS WITH MAIN REBEL GROUPS CONTINUE
Khartoum (Agenzia Fides) - While talks to restore peace in Sudan continue, the government airforce has admitted bombings in the western part of the country. However a military spokesman affirmed that targets bombed by Khartoum’s military aircraft belonged to the so-called Justice and Equality JE rebel group and not to the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Army SPLA or the Sudan Liberation Movement SLM groups which are negotiating with the government to restore peace in Sudan.
The SLM, which operates mainly in the arid western region of Darfur, accuses the government of excluding the region from development and power. Recently the group negotiated a treaty with the regular army while representatives of the government and the rebel movement continue talks in Abeche (Chad).
Also the main rebel group SPLA, which operates in the south of the country, has reached an agreement with the government for a cessation of hostilities. The agreement stipulated the withdrawal of government troops from southern Sudan and gradual fusion of SPLA troops with the government forces in a unified army. Moreover the sides reached a political agreement to hold a referendum for self-determination in the south after a transition period of six year. Negotiations to agree on final details continue in Kenya. Among the points still to be settled, whether the Nuba Mountains and Abiey the south of the Blue Nile State will be under SPLA or government control; the distribution of oil revenue (as from 2004 daily produce: half a million drums); organisation of power and the application of Sharia Muslim law in the capital.
The war, which started in 1983, has caused the death of at least 2 million people, displaced millions more and caused immense damage. (L.M.) (Fides Service 3/11/2003, lines 28 words 341)
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