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Three armed groups extend unilateral ceasefire in Darfur

May 7, 2018 (KHARTOUM) - The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), Sudan Liberation Movement - Minni Minnawi (SLM-MM) and SLM- Transitional Council (SLM-TC) extended a unilateral ceasefire in Darfur region for three months.

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Undated picture extended to Sudan Tribune on 28 April 2015 by the Justice and Equality Movement showing their fighters during a training exercise

"The Cessation of Hostilities shall enter into force at 11:59 pm (SLT) on the 7th of May 2018 and will extend for 3 months to 11:59 pm (SLT) on 6th of August 2018. The Cessation of Hostilities shall apply throughout the conflict areas of Darfur," said a joint statement on Monday.

JEM and SLM-MM are committed to the truce within the African Union efforts to end the 15-year conflict in Darfur. It was declared for the first time on 17 October 2015 and since the armed groups renewed regularly.

The SLM-TC, which broke away from the SLM-Abdel Wahid, joined the unilateral ceasefire after a joint attack carried with Minnawi’s movement in May 2017. The two groups are linked by a military coordination agreement.

The joint statement stressed that the cessation of hostilities is for a humanitarian purpose.

"The objectives of the extended Cessation of Hostilities are to protect civilians, provide unhindered humanitarian access to war-affected populations, and create a conducive environment for peace talks".

However; the three groups condemned the government’s "barbaric attacks on civilians in Jebel Marra, which resulted in the further mass displacement of civilians".

Also, they called for an international action to "put an end to the Government of Sudan’s policies and acts of violence in Darfur, "condemn the Government’s violations of its own cessation of hostilities, and to pursue guarantees for unimpeded humanitarian access to Darfur".

Since last month, the SLM-AW which is not committed to the truce and the SLM-TC reported attacks by the government forces on their positions in the central Darfur state mountainous area of Jebel Marra.

Darfur hybrid mission didn’t confirm or deny the alleged attacks. However, the UN Secretary-General is expected to brief the Security Council on the situation on Thursday 10 May.

The government and JEM and SLM-MM failed last month to strike a declaration of principles on the peace negotiations but said ready to resume meetings in the future.

(ST)