"The SLM is committed to fully respecting the truce and all the agreements reached since the 2004 ceasefire," Sudan Liberation Movement leader Abd al-Wahid Muhammad al-Nur said on Thursday.

"What the spokesman for the SLM said about considering the agreements we have signed with the government as null and void is not true," he said.

SLM spokesman Mahjub Husayn had said on Wednesday that the group considered truce deals signed with Khartoum null and void, warning that it would resume fighting and seek to oust the government.

His comments prompted north Darfur to go on "maximum
alert", according to a Sudanese newspaper, and raised concerns in Washington about renewed fighting.

Speaking to Aljazeera from London, Husayn had declared "agreements on a cessation of hostilities signed in Ndjamena, Chad, last year and a security protocol in Abuja, Nigeria, signed earlier this month null and void".

He blamed the Sudanese government, saying it had failed to honour the accords.

Misunderstanding

But SLM leader Muhammad al-Nur told Aljazeera: 

The UN says Darfur is the world's
worst humanitarian crisis

"The truth is that brother Mahjub Husayn said the repeated violations by the Sudanese government render these agreements meaningless and of no avail. This is what we would reaffirm.

"The truth is that we are fully committed to our obligations that we have signed in Injamina and Abuja. the government has to meet its obligations by respecting these agreements. They should halt their repeated attacks against us."

No division

On whether the conflicting statements reflect internal division in the SLM, the rebel leader said:

"We have been accused so often of lacking harmony. But the government is free to tell what it believes. We are in full harmony and this apparent conflict of opinion was only a misunderstanding of Husayn's statements. We call on the government to respect its obligations.

"We are in a position of self-defence which is supported by all international conventions and norms as well as by divine law," he added.

The SLM is one of the two main rebel groups in Darfur who have been fighting the Janjawid, an alleged government-supported militia, in a war over land.

The United Nations says thousands of people have been killed and 1.5 million displaced by the fighting in what it terms the world's worst humanitarian crisis.