In its first official act, Sudan’s new coalition Cabinet on Sunday endorsed a tentative peace agreement with southern rebels that calls for an immediate cease-fire in the country’s six-year civil war.
The peace plan also calls for an end to the state of emergency in force since 1985 and the suspension of plans to introduce Islamic law until a national constitutional conference can be held.
Information and Culture Minister Hussein abu Saleh told reporters the Cabinet, which was sworn in Saturday, decided to form a committee headed by Foreign Minister Sidahmed Hussein to start contacts with the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Army.
The rebels, led by John Garang, negotiated the agreement in November with the centrist Democratic Unionist Party, then the senior partner in Prime Minister Sadek Mahdi’s Cabinet. Parliament rejected the plan, prompting the Democratic Unionists to quit the government.
Mahdi, under pressure from the army, later agreed to form a more broadly based government and to pursue peace talks with the rebels. The Democratic Unionists then rejoined the government.