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Saturday, August 15, 1998 Published at 23:44 GMT 00:44 UK

World: Africa

Sudan opposition confident of victory

John Garang: his presence at the talks has infuriated Khartoum

Leaders of the Sudanese opposition grouping, the National Democratic Alliance, have said they are close to overthrowing the Islamic-led government in Khartoum.

The NDA leaders made the statement as they continued to meet in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, to discuss their next move in a long-running civil war that has left an estimated 2.5 million people threatened with starvation.

A spokesman for the coalition, Faruq Abu Issa, said: "The NDA is getting close to its ultimate goal: overthrowing the government ... and restoring multi-party democracy in Sudan."

Among those present at the talks are John Garang, the leader of the southern opposition movement, the SPLA.

[ image: About 2.5m people are threatened by famine in Sudan]
About 2.5m people are threatened by famine in Sudan
Northern opposition figures attending include the former Sudanese Prime Minister, Sadeq el-Mahdi, and the Chairman of the NDA, Osman al-Mirghani.

It is the first time that the NDA has met in Egypt, which has, over recent months, been improving ties with Sudan.

The Sudanese Government has denounced the presence of John Garang as amounting to Egyptian support for the SPLA.

The SPLA started fighting Khartoum in 1983, seeking greater religious freedom for the south and, later, for self-determination.

The conflict pits the largely Islamic Arab north against the mainly black African and Christian or animist south.

The Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak called for a ceasefire in Sudan after meeting with the NDA leadership, saying it was essential "to work to halt the fighting in all regions of Sudan."

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