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Sudanese President Calls for Immediate Cease-Fire in Darfur


Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir has announced an "immediate and unconditional" cease-fire in the war-torn western region of Darfur.

The president Wednesday also said his government will start disarming pro-government militias and curb the use of weapons among armed forces, provided that monitoring is put in place to make sure all warring sides are observing the truce.

The Reuters news agency quotes a commander for the rebel Justice and Equality Movement Suleiman Sandal as saying the president's announcement is not serious.

The report says the rebels have vowed to continue fighting until they get assurances of a power and revenue-sharing agreement.

President Bashir has made several cease-fire announcements during the nearly six-year conflict, all of which failed. His latest declaration follows peace recommendations made by a so-called people's forum, which was boycotted by Darfur rebel groups.

The recommendations also called for the release of Darfur political prisoners, but President Bashir did not mention this.

Mr. Bashir set up the forum a few weeks after the International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor called for him to be tried for war crimes in Darfur.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo accuses Mr. Bashir of masterminding a campaign of deportation, rape and murder in the western Darfur region. President Bashir says he is the victim of an international conspiracy, and Sudan has refused to cooperate with the court.

Human rights activists say the conflict, involving rebels, government forces and pro-government militias, has killed more than 200,000 people and driven more than 2.5 million from their homes.

Sudan's government says these numbers are exaggerated, and puts the death toll at about 10,000.


Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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