Blaine Harden's article "New Guns Revive Slavery in Sudan" {news story, Nov. 29}, in which he cited a Misseirya raid on a Dinka cattle camp, was sensationalistic in describing areas of nomadic tribal conflict -- which is a serious problem of underdevelopment in which fights over scarce resources frequently flare up. To categorize the end results of the tribal war in the Sudan as "slavery" -- in its classical meaning -- gives a distorted and misleading picture of life in the largest democratic country in Africa.

Human rights in the Sudan are guarded by its constitution and laws, in which no room is left for human exploitation. Slavery, of course, is a crime punishable by law in the Sudan and, above all, a crime against the traditions and ethics of the majority of the Sudanese people. To conclude, from a story of alleged kidnapping and abuse, that there has been a revival of slavery is, to say the least, inappropriate. Nevertheless, this matter is being investigated by the government.

One must bear in mind that aside from its economic problems, worsened by environmental degradation and an influx of refugees, the Sudan is witnessing a state of armed conflict in which displacement of a number of people in affected areas has aggravated the inimical relations between some neighboring tribes. The recent intensification of tribal war was initiated by the indiscriminate attacks of the rebel Sudanese People's Liberation Army in remote areas of the Sudan. It has thus been a pivotal priority of the current government, after the restoration of democracy, to put an end to the war by attempting to work out a resolution with the participation of all parties.

Moreover, the conclusion in Mr. Harden's article "Hopes for Bold Moves in Sudan Are Fading" {news story, Nov. 21} that Prime Minister Sadiq Mahdi is unwilling to halt the war in the south is erroneous. Unfortunately, it overlooks the continuing and untiring efforts exerted by the government under the leadership of Mr. Mahdi, who has never hesitated to recognize the problem.

It was Mr. Mahdi who proposed the convening of the National Constitutional Conference for a permanent and peaceful settlement of the strife. Soon after assuming office in May 1986, the prime minister met with the rebel leadership in Addis Ababa. They reached a general understanding that would have paved the way for a peaceful resolution of the conflict, but only a few days after the meeting, the rebels shot down a civilian aircraft, resulting in the loss of innocent lives, and thus jeopardized the peace initiative.

Even after this desperate act by the rebels and their recent attacks on the badly needed relief convoys, the government has not abandoned its policy of exploring all possible peaceful solutions to the problem. The rebels refused to respond to offers of a cease-fire that would have created an atmosphere conducive to dialogue. The prime minister welcomed recent efforts toward mediation by some African and church leaders, and his emissaries personally conveyed to the rebels a new initiative that, unfortunately, fell on deaf ears.

The Sudan, a country with great natural resources, is currently faced with enormous challenges; sincere collective effort is required for the country to develop and prosper. It is illogical that some should carry arms and resort to violence in a free, democratic society.

SALAH AHMED Ambassador of the Republic of the Sudan Washington