January 15, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - Sudanese Council of Ministers on Sunday has decided to extend the unilateral cessation of hostilities in war zones for six months.
The Sudanese army has been fighting the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/North (SPLM-N) rebels in Blue Nile and South Kordofan, also known as “Two Areas” since 2011 and a group of armed movements in Darfur since 2003.
In June 2016, President Omer al-Bashir declared a unilateral four-month cessation of hostilities. In December, he extended the ceasefire for one month following a two-month extension declared in October.
According to the official news agency SUNA, the Sudanese cabinet held an extraordinary session on Sunday headed by al-Bashir and decided to extend the ceasefire for six months.
The government decision appears to be part of a roadmap agreement between Khartoum and Washington that prompted the latter to ease the economic sanctions imposed on Sudan since 1997.
On Friday, the outgoing US President Barack Obama signed an executive order to ease sanctions against Sudan enabling trade and investment transactions to resume with the east African nation.
He said the move intends to acknowledge Sudan’s efforts to reduce internal conflicts, improve humanitarian access to people in need and curtail terrorism.
It is noteworthy that the SPLM-N, the Sudan Liberation Movement-Minni Minnawi (SLM-MM), and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) in October extended for six months the unilateral cessation of hostilities in Darfur, Blue Nile and south Kordofan they declared in October 2015 and April of this year.
Following six days of talks in Addis Ababa last August, the armed movements and the government failed to conclude a deal on the security arrangements and humanitarian access in Darfur and the Two Areas prompting the African Union mediation to suspend the talks indefinitely.