Reuters International

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has announced a one-month extension of his unilateral ceasefire in fighting with rebels in the country's war zones.

The announcement, in an independence day speech on Saturday, comes after earlier short-term truces in June and October 2016, which were followed by a fall-off in fighting in the southern Blue Nile and Kordofan regions but continued clashes in Darfur.

The latest outbreak of fighting between the army and rebels in Kordofan and Blue Nile broke out in 2011, when adjacent South Sudan declared independence. Conflict in Darfur began in 2003 when mainly non-Arab tribes took up arms against Sudan's Arab-led government.

However, talks to secure a lasting ceasefire in Sudan's three warring regions under a road map for peace collapsed in August.

In his speech, Bashir said: "We announce an extension of the ceasefire for one month only, except in cases of self-defence."

Bashir's long war against various rebel groups coincides with a severe economic downturn. This year's budget foresees a growing deficit and slower growth.

Inflation approaching 20 percent and government austerity have fuelled growing discontent and rare protests in recent weeks.

Sudan's economic problems have been building since the south seceded in 2011, taking with it three-quarters of oil output, the main source of foreign currency and government income.

At the same time, Bashir is wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

(Reporting by Ali Hussien; Writing by Giles Elgood; Editing bny Andrew Heavens)

Reuters

 Reuters International