Ceasefire extended

The ceasefire between the government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) rebel group has been extended until 30 June, rebel spokesman Samson Kwaje told IRIN on Monday.

The decision was reached during the current session of peace talks in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, which is discussing the disputed areas of Southern Blue Nile, the Nuba Mountains (Southern Kordofan State) and Abyei (also Southern Kordofan).

He added that the talks were going well, but they were "painfully slow". Until Friday, the two sides had not moved beyond a discussion of the agenda for the talks, which are supposed to finish on 19 March.

If necessary the current round of negotiations, being held outside the framework of the regional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), might be extended, he said. "I don't know if we will reach agreement during this session," he added.

In October 2002, both the Sudanese government and the SPLM/A agreed to observe a countrywide ceasefire to create the right environment for ongoing peace talks in Kenya. The parties reaffirmed the agreement with an addendum, signed on 4 February, outlining measures to monitor all violations.