Sudan to sign Darfur ceasefire deal in Qatar

Beshir said the ceasefire deal to be signed in Qatar on Tuesday by Khartoum.

Sudan to sign Darfur ceasefire deal in Qatar

Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir said the ceasefire deal to be signed in Qatar on Tuesday by Khartoum and a major rebel group marked the "start of the end" of the Darfur conflict.

Sudan will offer JEM government positions as part of a peace deal, according to documents setting out the terms of negotiations seen by Reuters on Tuesday.

The agreement with the rebel Justice and Equality Movement marks the start of the end of the war in Darfur, the president said at a meeting in Doha late on Monday.

He was in the Qatari capital for the signing ceremony of the agreement along with Chad's President Idriss Deby Itno and Qatar's emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani.

A framework deal was already signed on Saturday.

The accord was "the first step towards ending the crisis in Darfur," Beshir said, hoping for a "comprehensive peace" in the troubled region of western Sudan ahead of his country's presidential and legislative polls in April.

This year will "mark a new Sudan, stable and peaceful, a united Sudan, by the will of its people," he said.


According to a French language copy of the framework agreement, JEM and Khartoum agreed to "The participation of the Justice and Equality Movement at all levels of government (executive, legislative, ...) in a manner to be agreed subsequently between the two parties."

Other rebel groups such as a hardline faction of the Sudanese Liberation Army headed by France-based exile Abdelwahid Nur have so far refused to enter talks with the Khartoum government.

JEM is widely thought to control the biggest military insurgent force in Darfur and carried out an unprecedented attack on Khartoum in 2008.

JEM leader Khalil Ibrahim and Sudanese officials signed an initial version framework agreement in Chad on Saturday which also includes a ceasefire, plans to integrate JEM into Sudan's army and a promise to reach a final peace deal by March 15.

Tuesday's event has been billed as the "official signing".

The signing comes almost exactly a year after Khartoum and JEM met in Doha to agree to a set of "confidence building measures" designed to pave the way to the framework agreement and then full peace talks.

Bashir on Saturday cancelled death sentences handed out to more than 100 men accused of taking part in JEM's attack on Khartoum and promised to free 30 percent of them immediately.

Authorities at Khartoum's Kober prison on Monday told Reuters they were still waiting for orders to free inmates.

JEM negotiator Ahmed Tugud confirmed the wording of the framework agreement. "This is not about getting government positions for JEM commanders and fighters. We represent the people of Darfur ... This is a new phase for the participation of the people of Darfur."

Tugud said JEM would push for the postponement of elections as part of the "power-sharing" negotiations.

Khartoum has so far insisted on the April date for the poll, set up as part of a peace deal that ended Sudan's separate north-south civil war in 2005.

Tugud said the new deal would also have an impact on the position of former Darfur rebel leader Minni Arcua Minnawi, appointed as senior presidential assistant, after his SLA faction signed a deal with Khartoum in 2006. "He will take part but there is no room for Minni to have the upper hand," he said.

The seven-year conflict in Darfur has claimed some 300,000 lives and left 2.7 million refugees, according to UN figures. Sudan puts the death toll at 10,000.


Last Mod: 23 Şubat 2010, 11:35
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