Sudan Rebel Criticizes Cease-Fire
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) _ A Sudanese rebel official dismissed a unilateral cease-fire declared by the government, calling it a negotiating tactic in advance of talks aimed at ending the country’s 15-year civil war.
The Khartoum government on Monday announced the cease-fire throughout southern Sudan to allow humanitarian relief to reach an estimated 1.5 million people threatened by famine. The talks between government and rebel representatives were set to begin today in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital.
Daniel Kodi Angelo, an official for the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, questioned the timing of Khartoum’s announcement.
``This cease-fire is just a maneuver,″ Angelo said in Cairo, Egypt.
The government’s declaration expands the scope of a three-month truce agreed to last month between the government and the SPLA in the hardest-hit southwestern region of Bahr al-Ghazal.
Sudanese officials said the cease-fire should aid negotiations with the rebels and urged the SPLA to respond with a similar declaration.
The mainly African, Christian and animist southerners have been fighting the Islamic, Arabized north since 1983 for greater autonomy.
The last major cease-fire, brokered by former President Jimmy Carter, was signed in March 1995 and lasted two months. The government then extended it another two months.
The U.N. World Food Program is dropping 9,500 tons of food a month _ at a cost of $30 million _ into the south in the largest aid operation currently under way.
Riak Machar, a former rebel who split with the SPLA six years ago and recently joined the government, said Khartoum was working to assist humanitarian efforts in south Sudan.
Machar and Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Ismail will represent Khartoum in the talks. SPLA commander Salva Kir heads the rebel delegation.
The Sudanese government and the SPLA have been holding sporadic peace talks sponsored by the Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a regional cooperative of six East African countries.