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Tuesday, 5 June, 2001, 16:08 GMT 17:08 UK
Sudan government talk peace

Sudan's Government is urging the Sudanese People's Liberation Army, its main enemy for the past 18 years, to concentrate on talking rather than fighting.


Talking and fighting at the same time cannot take us to any good solution

Sudanese Deputy Foreign Minister
The call comes at a time when reports from Khartoum say that the government is mobilising troops to bolster its fight against the SPLA.

Sudan's deputy foreign minister Chuol Deng said at a press conference in Nairobi that "a ceasefire is a necessity. Talking and fighting at the same time cannot take us to any good solution."

The SPLA and the Sudanese Government held an unsuccessful peace conference on Saturday.

Analysts say that the SPLA is concerned that the government would use a ceasefire to build up its own forces for a final push against the rebels in the south.

Victory

The SPLA says that it has captured all of Western Bahr el Ghazal district, 800 km south-west of Khartoum, from the government.

John Garang
SPLA Leader John Garang is being urged to agree to a ceasefire
SPLA spokesman Yasr Arman said that it made this latest advance in the country over the weekend.

The Khartoum Government has denied that it has lost control of the province and says that fighting is continuing for the district's capital Raga..

The BBC correspondent in Khartoum said independent sources have confirmed that the SPLA is in control.

Future advances

He said that the fall of Western Bahr el Ghazal opens up several opportunities for the rebel SPLA.

As the district is on the border with the Central African Republic the SPLA can benefit from the lucrative trade.

Also the SPLA now has access to the Dafur regions. The people of which have their own grievances with Khartoum.

Mr Arman responded to the claims that fighting was still going on by saying that the government is "still telling the public lies".

Independent sources said that the SPLA's victory came easily as the pro-government peace forces, who were supposed to be defending the region, switched sides.

News of the fighting comes after a Sudanese peace summit in Kenya failed to produce any concrete results. However the two sides did agree to continue talking.

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See also:

02 Jun 01 | Africa
Sudan summit fails to agree truce
28 May 01 | Africa
Sudan plans peace talks
27 May 01 | Africa
Powell promises Sudan aid
24 May 01 | Africa
Sudan to halt air strikes
24 May 01 | Middle East
Timeline: Sudan
24 May 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Sudan
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