The US State Department has added its voice to world leaders who have welcomed the unilateral ceasefire for the Two Areas announced by Sudan’s President Omar Al Bashir on June 17.
In a statement from Washington, US State Department spokesman John Kirby says: “The United States welcomes the Government of Sudan’s declaration of a unilateral cessation of hostilities in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile. We find this an important and welcome step towards a peaceful resolution to conflict in those states, which we would like to see extended to the Darfur region. An end to military offensives and fighting in these areas would bring much needed relief to thousands of Sudanese and create an improved environment for dialogue leading to a political solution.
“We urge the Sudan Revolutionary Front to reciprocate by ceasing all military action against the Sudanese Armed Forces and recommit to the cessation of hostilities it declared nearly two months ago. We encourage both the Government of Sudan and the opposition to work under the auspices of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel to translate their cessation of hostilities declarations, which must ultimately include the region of Darfur, into a sustainable end to this conflict. A negotiated solution that addresses the key political and security drivers of conflict in all areas of Sudan will be needed in order to establish a lasting peace.
“We encourage all sides to commit to allowing unfettered access for humanitarian organizations to deliver lifesaving aid to all Sudanese citizens affected by the conflict,” the statement concludes.
On June 17, Sudan’s President Omar Al Bashir declared a four-month unilateral cessation of hostilities in Blue Nile and South Kordofan.
The ceasefire renews the call of the Sudanese president for the opposition forces to join the National Dialogue process before the general assembly of the national dialogue which will be held on 6 August, the Sudanese News Agency (Suna) reported.
On 28 April, Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) declared a six- month unilateral cessation of hostilities, and urged the AU mediation team to organise a meeting with the government to make it effective.
The Sudanese Armed Forces have instructed their units and formations to respect the ceasefire, however “the Armed Forces will retain their due right to respond to any attack that targets their positions or undermine their administrative movements in accordance with the observed principle of combat”.
The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, issued a statement this week welcoming the announcement by the Government of Sudan. “These commitments should ease the suffering of the people living in the affected areas.” The Secretary-General urges the parties to allow and facilitate urgently needed humanitarian access to these areas.
In an earlier statement, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, welcomed the announcement of the ceasefire, saying: If Sudan and the armed opposition groups respect the unilateral ceasefire, it “will also create a conducive environment for advancing the peace process in Sudan”.
Dlamini-Zuma expressed her wish that the armed opposition respects the unilateral ceasefire for six months, which was announced last April. If both parties cease hostilities, it will “ease the suffering of the populations in the conflict areas”.