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Military committee discusses implementation of peace pact

5/11/2005 5:44am

NAIROBI, 10 May 2005 (IRIN) - A joint military ceasefire committee comprised of officials from the Sudanese armed forces and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) has held its first meeting to discuss the implementation of a peace accord that ended two decades of war in the south.

The Ceasefire Joint Military Committee (CJMC), which met in the southern Sudanese town of Juba on Sunday, agreed to hold biweekly meetings to ensure that the military and security forces from both parties fulfilled their obligations under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed on 9 January in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

"I am extremely pleased to announce that all present at today's [8 May] CJMC expressed their determination to work together over the coming months to ensure that the many tasks listed in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement will be undertaken in a positive manner," Major-General Fazle Elahi Akbar, UN Force Commander, said in a statement issued after the meeting.

"The committee will discuss, among others, the redeployment of troops, the process of DDR [disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of former combatants] and the way roads will be opened up to allow for the return of IDPs [internally displaced persons]," Colonel Jeff Sims, chief of staff of the UN Joint Monitoring and Coordination Office in Juba, told IRIN on Monday.

The CPA stipulates that armed forces from both the government and the SPLM/A move to specified concentration areas for the purpose of disengagement.

Over the coming months, Sims added, the priority would be to ensure that each party knew where the other's forces were located, and that roads were opened in order to create a sense of normalcy on the ground.

"There is much to be done in the months and years ahead by this committee to ensure that the people of Sudan are able to enjoy the peace and prosperity that they deserve," Akbar added.

To monitor the implementation of the CPA, the UN has started logistical preparations for the deployment of a 10,000-strong peacekeeping force to southern Sudan.

"No military has come in so far, but the first soldiers - from Bangladesh - are expected to arrive in the last week of May and some others in early June," a UN military official who asked not to be named told IRIN on Monday.

In the south, 1,200 soldiers from Bangladesh are expected to be deployed to Juba. A contingent of 1,200 Chinese and Kenyan troops was expected in Wau, while an Indian force of 1,500 soldiers will be based in Malakal.

In the so-called transitional zones between north and south Sudan, Pakistan will deploy 1,200 troops in Damazin in Blue Nile State, Zambia will send 500 soldiers to Abyei and Egypt will contribute an army of 700 to monitor the Nuba Mountains region.

"The deployment of all peacekeepers should be completed by mid-November," the military official added.

The war between the SPLM/A and the Sudanese government in the south erupted in 1983 when rebels took up arms against authorities based in the north to demand greater autonomy.

The fighting has killed at least two million people, uprooted four million more, and forced some 550,000 to flee to neighbouring countries.

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