Sudanese sides sign Darfur ceasefire in Qatar

Sudanese President and Darfur's main opposition group signed a ceasefire agreement that is intended to lead to a broader peace deal.

Sudanese sides sign Darfur ceasefire in Qatar

Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and Darfur's main opposition group signed a ceasefire agreement on Tuesday that is intended to lead to a broader peace deal.

Qatar's Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, whose country sponsored talks leading to the deal, said Qatar would contribute $1 billion to a fund to reconstruct Sudan.

Also present were the host, al-Thani, as well as Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno and Eritrean President Issaias Afeworki.

Beshir said the signature in Doha was "an important step toward ending war and the conflict in Darfur."

On Saturday, government and JEM representatives inked a framework agreement in Chad proclaiming a ceasefire in the seven-year-old conflict. The two sides also agreed on Saturday that the JEM would become "a political party as soon as the final agreement is signed between the two parties" by March 15.

The 12-point provisional deal offered the JEM, long-seen as Darfur's most heavily armed group, a power-sharing role in Sudan, where presidential and legislative polls are to be held in April.

However, on Tuesday four of the smaller groups announced that they were merging to form the Liberation Movement for Justice and also hoped to come to an agreement with Khartoum.

Beshir's adviser on Darfur, Ghazi Salaheddine, who inked the framework accord with JEM leader Ibrahim on Saturday, has also said he hoped other groups would enter talks with Khartoum.

This arrangement "does not exclude other movements specially those who come to the Doha process; we are open to them," he said.

Deal

Khartoum will offer Darfur's opposition group government posts as part of a future peace deal to end fighting in western Sudan, according to documents setting out the terms of negotiations that were seen by Reuters.

The initial framework included a ceasefire, plans to integrate the JEM into Sudan's army and a promise to reach a final peace deal by March 15. Tuesday's event was billed as the official signing.

"We are working to meet the March 15 deadline, but that itself is not a requirement," said chief JEM negotiator Ahmed Tugud, one of those who later signed the agreement.

"We are trying to move forward, at least. It has been a long time since we've had a direct dialogue (with the government). We believe it is the right time to start," he told Reuters.

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.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's press office issued a statement welcoming the deal, saying it was "an important step towards an inclusive and comprehensive peace agreement for Darfur, which will address the underlying causes of the conflict and the concerns of all Darfurian communities."

It added that Ban hoped all provisions of the agreement would be fully implemented.

JEM negotiator Ahmed 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.

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.


Agencies

Last Mod: 24 Şubat 2010, 13:10
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