KHARTOUM -- Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir on Wednesday announced an immediate ceasefire in the war-torn western Sudanese region of Darfur to pave the way for the Arab- sponsored peace negotiations with rebel movements.
Bashir made the remarks during the final session of the Forum of the Sudanese People's Initiative for Solving the Darfur Issue which has worked out a strategy for enhancing security and other measures that would allow millions of displaced people and refugees to return to their home villages in Darfur.
The forum was organized by the Sudanese government to discuss a peace plan put forward by the Arab League during a special meeting in Qatari capital of Doha which calls for resumption of the peace talks between the Sudanese government and rebel movements in Darfur.
Addressing the meeting, Bashir said "I hereby announce our immediate unconditional ceasefire between the armed forces and the warring factions, provided that an effective monitoring mechanism is put into action and observed by all involved parties."
Bashir said that the government "will set up an immediate campaign to disarm the militias and restrict the use of weapons among armed forces."
He also announced his agreement to the principle suggested in the final report of the forum on compensation for victims of the five-year-long conflict in Darfur, in which the Sudanese government said about 10 thousands have been killed and 2 millions displaced.
Bashir reiterated his government's commitment to negotiating with the rebel movements in order to reach peaceful solutions which would remove the roots of the conflict in Darfur, where dozens of tribes including Arabs and Africans have been living and battling each other on infertile lands for hundreds of years.
"We confirm out commitment of negotiations to reach peaceful solutions which guarantee the eradication of disputes," he said.
Underlined a continuous cooperation between the Sudanese government and the hybrid peacekeeping forces of the UN and the African Union (AU) in Darfur, Bashir said "We will enable the international forces to perform its role which is stipulated in the Darfur Peace Agreement for keeping peace and security in Darfur."
The final report of the forum recommends an immediate unilateral ceasefire and asks the government to provide security to the home areas of people who fled from military campaigns that began in Darfur in 2003.
The policy outlined in the report represents an effort to maintain the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) signed on May 5, 2006 by one main rebel leader, Minni Arkou Minawi, as the basis for future negotiations.
The forum accepted the principal of individual compensation for victims of the war, but also asked the government to prioritize collective compensation by family.
The meeting also suggested re-establishing Darfur as one administrative region rather than three, which was one of the grievances that sparked the rebellion.
The 67-page report also urged Darfur to be represented by one vice-president in the national government, which already has two vice presidents.
These concessions approximate the rebels' demands that Khartoum rejected at the Abuja peace negotiations mediated by the AU in 2006.
At that time, two main Darfur rebel groups, Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) and Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), ultimately refused to sign an agreement that did not restore Darfur to one administrative region and dedicate a vice-presidency for the region.
The forum came four months after a prosecutor of the International Criminal Courts (ICC) demanded a arrest warrant for the Sudanese president, accusing him of war crimes committed in Darfur.
Eritrean President Issias Afeworki was sitting together with Sudanese officials and representatives of political parties and local organizations in the meeting.
On Monday, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak made an unannounced visit to Sudan, where he held meetings with Bashir in Khartoum, and with Salva Kiir Mayardit, the Sudanese first vice president and the president of the southern Sudanese government in Juba, the capital of southern Sudan.
Sudan's media termed the short but important visit, the first by President Mubarak to Sudan since he assumed power in 1981, as " signalling a strong support for the efforts exerted by the Sudanese government of Bashir to realize the peace in the country. "