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South Kordofan accord aims for full ceasefire: minister
by Staff Writers
Malabo (AFP) June 29, 2011

A deal reached this week between Khartoum and a branch of the ex-rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement aims for a full ceasefire to end fighting in South Kordofan, an SPLM minister said Wednesday.

The two sides signed the deal on Tuesday to resolve their differences in the embattled border state, where heavy fighting has raged for around two weeks.

"In South Kordofan there was an agreement on general principles on cessation of hostilities ... the intention is to arrive to a ceasefire," SPLM minister for cooperation Deng Alor told AFP on the sidelines of African Union meetings.

The deal did not necessarily mean the scrapping of ideas for an intervention force in the region, as had been planned for troubled Abyei, he said.

"Not now ... they have just concluded the agreement on general principles; maybe when they discuss the details, the issue will come up," he said.

Heavy fighting has raged in South Kordofan since June 5 between government forces and militia aligned to the ex-rebel army, the SPLA.

Although reliable casualty figures have been unobtainable because of restrictions on UN agencies and non-governmental organisations, diplomats say the numbers could run into the hundreds.

The fighting, which has also displaced thousands, erupted following a disputed election for the state governor.

After threats from Sudan to cut oil flows, Deng Alor said: "Nobody is going to cut off the oil pipeline."

"The government of Sudan in Khartoum needs oil; we in the south need oil. The discussions are going on," he said.

The deal over South Kordofan comes less than two weeks before South Sudan becomes independent on July 9 after an almost unanimous referendum.

Britain's minister for Africa Henry Bellingham, also in Malabo for meetings leading up to the African Union summit on Thursday and Friday, said South Sudan's independence was "incredibly exciting".

"It is an historic moment for Africa and the world, the creation of a new country," he said.

However there were still concerns about tensions in Abyei and South Kordofan and "we are urging all sides to make sure that there is an immediate ceasefire so that humanitarian relief can get in," he said.

"But we don't want the great celebrations of this new country to be undermined and marred by what's happening in Abyei and South Kordofan."

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Sudanese leader Bashir arrives late in China
Beijing (AFP) June 28, 2011
Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir arrived in China on Tuesday for talks with President Hu Jintao, as the United States and rights groups criticised Beijing for hosting an alleged war criminal. An AFP journalist saw Bashir's presidential plane touch down in Beijing in the early hours, a day later than planned, after Sudan's foreign ministry said it was forced to choose a "new route" while flying ... read more

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