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SLM- Bassey renews commitment to Darfur ceasefire accords

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Oct 3, 2006 (PARIS) — In response to a letter from the UN envoy to Sudan, a Darfur rebel faction renewed its commitment to Darfur ceasefire agreements signed with the Sudanese government.

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Ahmed Abdelshafi Bassey

In a letter to the UN special envoy to Sudan Jan Pronk, the leader of a faction of the Sudan Liberation Movement, Ahmed Abdelshafi Bassey, reiterated his commitment to ceasefire accords signed with Khartoum.

“The Movement honors, and at all times, all previously signed agreements with the Government of Sudan, especially those related to ceasefire.”

Two weeks ago, the UN envoy sent a letter to the Sudanese government and Darfur rebel groups urging them to observe a truce during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan to let relief workers operate in the region.

“We assure you that, the SLM/A forces in Darfur will take even extra measures during the Holy month of Ramadan to observe and implement all previously signed ceasefire agreements and protocols” said Bassey.

In a letter sent to Pronk on 27 September, the rebel leader stressed on the readiness of his group to hold talks with the Sudanese government “to finding a peaceful and comprehensive resolution to the Sudanese conflict in Darfur”.

An estimated 200,000 people have been killed since violence erupted in Darfur in 2003. Underfinanced African Union (AU) troops are struggling to enforce a much-violated 2004 ceasefire between government forces and rebel groups in the region.

In May, one rebel faction and the government signed a peace agreement but other rebel groups have refused to sign. Violence in the region has escalated since May and aid workers say their access has been cut signficantly.

U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland said last month the situation in the region was going "from really bad to catastrophic".

Pronk said a halt to fighting would lead to "creating an atmosphere whereby you can start talking again rather than fighting again with each other." It would also allow U.N. agencies to reach those in need, he said.

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Below the text of the SLm leader, Ahmed Abdelshafi Bassey, to the UN special envoy to Sudan Jan Pronk:

Sudan Liberation Movement/Army

Date: September 27, 2006

To The Right Honorable: Mr. Jan Pronk, Special Representative of the Secretary General for the Sudan

Dear: Mr. Pronk

I have received your letter dated September 22nd, 2006 with Reference: OSRSG/AMD.02/MDS/06.187. Thank you for your letter.

The Movement honors, and at all times, all previously signed agreements with the Government of Sudan, especially those related to ceasefire. We assure you that, the SLM/A forces in Darfur will take even extra measures during the Holy month of Ramadan to observe and implement all previously signed ceasefire agreements and protocols.

Meanwhile, the SLM/A affirms its commitment to finding a peaceful solution to the Darfur Conflict. To that end, the SLM/A will cooperate with all those who are working diligently to finding a peaceful and comprehensive resolution to the Sudanese conflict in Darfur. The SLM/A stands ready to engage in open and serious dialogue/negotiations with the Government of Sudan.

On behalf of the SLM/A, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you personally and the United Nations for your unconditional and relentless support to the victims of the Sudanese conflict in Darfur.

I am looking forward to working with you to finding a peaceful settlement to the Darfur Conflict. Meanwhile, I remain,

Truly yours,

Ahmed Abdulshafi Bassey

Chairman Designate,

Sudan Liberation Movement/Army

(ST)

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