Sudan extends cease-fire with southern rebels

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (VOP TODAY NEWS) — Sudanese and southern Sudanese officials agreed late on Saturday with a leader of a union of armed factions operating along the common border to extend a ceasefire and allow humanitarian aid to some conflict-affected areas in Sudan.

Sudan says the neighboring state of southern Sudan harbors the owner of a drug, a Sudanese rebel. A long and troubled border separates the two countries and both countries have a history of supporting armed groups on other territory since the oil-rich south of South Sudan became independent in 2011.

Sudan and Arak signed a ceasefire on April 17 that includes the Blue Nile and South Kordofan regions, a week after the ouster of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir after 30 years in power. The deal was due to expire at the end of July.

Peace talks will continue as rebel factions from Sudan’s Darfur region are expected to arrive in Juba on Sunday from Addis Ababa.

Talks on Saturday were attended by South Sudan’s chief security adviser Tut Qallawak, General Mohamed Hamdan Diklu, vice president of Sudan’s ruling transitional military junta, and Oqar, a leader of a wing of armed opposition groups.

Sudan faces an armed insurgency in various parts and protests from disgruntled citizens over decades of poor economic management and human rights abuses by security forces. Many protesters have been protesting against Bashir and the military junta that left him in office.

This month, the Sudanese military junta and forces of freedom and change, which includes political and armed factions of Sudan, signed a three-year power-sharing agreement, but many details remain unsettled.

It was not part of the deal. Weekend negotiations in Juba focused on armed groups operating in areas bordering southern Sudan.

Kulawak said the Juba transitional military junta’s visit on Sunday focused on peace negotiation issues with Sudanese opposition groups from South Kordofan, the Nuba Mountains and Darfur.

Akar, leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) north of Malik Akar’s faction, said he wanted to agree with the forces of freedom and change on a common position. In the meantime, he said the ceasefire would be extended and relief agencies would be allowed in.

He referred to the extension of the cessation of hostilities and the opening of humanitarian corridors to the affected areas.

He said the president of southern Sudan was taking the negotiating process because he had influence over armed groups active in Sudan.

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