Hopes have been raised that more than 200 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram in Nigeria could soon be released.

The Nigerian government says the armed group has agreed a ceasefire after negotiations mediated by Chad.

Government spokesman Mike Omeri said: "The terrorists indicated their desire and willingness for peace and to discuss and resolve all associated issues." He went on: "They also assured that the schoolgirls and all other people in their captivity are alive and well."

French President Francois Hollande hailed the latest developments as "good news", telling a news conference in Paris that the girls' release "could happen in the coming hours and days".

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has been criticised at home and abroad for his sluggish response to the kidnapping.

Some are now questioning the timing of the latest breakthrough, as campaigning begins for February presidential elections and Jonathan considers a second term in office.

So can these latest negotiations with Boko Haram succeed, where previous talks have failed? And is there an underlying political agenda?

Presenter: Fauziah Ibrahim

Guests:

Mike Ejiofor - former director of Nigeria's state security service.

Lucy Freeman - director of Amnesty International's Gender, Sexuality and Identity Programme.

Aliyu Musa - an independent researcher on war and conflict study, and a specialist on Boko Haram.

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Source: Al Jazeera