The Suna news agency reported the announcement was made by Red Sea State Governor Hatim al-Wasila al-Sammani on Tuesday after he briefed President Umar al-Bashir on the situation following riots last month, in which police killed at least 14 civilian demonstrators.

Major General Sammani said the meeting centred on overcoming the crisis "through political action by negotiating with the Bija Congress in addition to enhancing development operations in the fields of food security and alleviating poverty".

He said a committee set up to investigate the incidents began by questioning him and would carry on with its mission for "pinpointing and punishing everyone who proved to have acted beyond his powers or failed to meet his responsibilities."

Power links

The governor also told Suna that work is progressing satisfactorily on a project for linking the state with the national power grid, as well as on roads that link Port Sudan with Egypt and with Khartoum.

The Bija Congress claims to be the sole representative of eastern Sudan.

It withdrew from the opposition umbrella National Democratic Alliance, amid charges that its demands were not being taken into account in negotiations with Khartoum.

The Cairo-based NDA and the government forged a preliminary agreement following a January peace accord between Khartoum and southern rebels.