Sudan president announces Darfur truce

President Omar al-Bashir, who faces indictment for alleged war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC), called a unilateral ceasefire in Darfur on Wednesday.

“I hereby announce our immediate unconditional ceasefire between the armed forces and warring factions, provided that an effective monitoring mechanism be put into action and be observed by all involved parties,” Mr al-Bashir said.

The Sudanese president promised to disarm militias, a top rebel demand, in a new push by his government to show it is serious about ending the nearly 6-year-old conflict.

A key Darfur rebel group, the Justice and Equality Movement, called the announcement a “PR exercise” and vowed to fight on until a proper ceasefire deal was reached.

Previous ceasefires have failed, while Mr Bashir has faced intense pressure after an international court prosecutor sought a warrant for his arrest.

The ICC  prosecutor sought to indict him in July on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur.

Up to 300,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million driven from their homes in the immense region of western Sudan since fighting exploded in early 2003. The war pits troops from the Arab-led Khartoum government against ethnic African rebels, and Khartoum is accused of backing Arab militias known as janjaweed said to have carried out extensive violence against ethnic African civilians.