African Press International (API)

"Daily Online News Channel".

Posted by African Press International on September 11, 2007

Khartoum (Sudan) Sudanese government troops have agreed to end their siege of 61 south Sudanese soldiers, resolving a stand-off that risked undermining the north-south peace deal, military sources told APA on Sunday.

Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) troops surrounded the small south Sudanese platoon on Thursday in the region of South Kordofan, accusing them of breaking the terms of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement by bearing arms.

Kuol Diem Kuol, spokesman for the Southern Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA), told African Press Agency through telephone on Sunday that the SAF troops had agreed to release the platoon late on Saturday, after mediation from the United Nations.

But Kuol said the SPLA would now consider “reciprocating” unless it received a formal apology from the national government, dominated by the ruling northern National Congress Party of President Omar al-Bashir.

“They lifted their siege after the intervention of UNMIS (The U.N. Mission in Sudan) based in Abyei. Our team proceeded to their destination,” he said.

The 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement ended two decades of conflict between the northern government and the former rebel SPLA. Under its terms, the south was granted semi-autonomy, allowed to keep its own army and promised a referendum on secession from the north by 2011.

Both armies were also required to withdraw to their respective zones that were demarcated in 1956 along the north-south border. The two sides have traded accusations of failing to redeploy before a July 9 deadline.

South Kordofan was one “transitional” area which the peace deal said should be patrolled by integrated north-south troops after the redeployments had been finalised. The integrated troops have so far not been formed.

Published by Korir, API*APN africanpress@chello.no tel+4793299739 or+4763002525 source.apa

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