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Latest News Last Updated: Feb 23, 2010 - 9:30:20 AM

State media: Sudan peace accord to be signed Tuesday
Sudaneseonline.com

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State media: Sudan peace accord to be signed Tuesday

 

(CNN) -- Sudan will sign a peace accord Tuesday with rebels from the nation's volatile Darfur region, state media said.

The signing of the cease-fire agreement with the rebel Justice and Equality Movement will coincide with a four-way summit in Doha, Qatar, the state-run SUNA news agency said.

The summit will include the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani; Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir; the president of Chad, Idris Deby; and Eritrean President Assais Afwerki, SUNA reported.

Participants at the meeting will discuss means of achieving peace in the region, welcoming the steps for realizing peace in Darfur, progress of the relations between Qatar, Sudan, Chad and Eritrea and other issues of mutual concern, SUNA said.

Tahir al-Fati, chairman of the Justice and Equality Movement's legislative assembly, told CNN on Saturday that a preliminary document for the framework agreement was signed Saturday in Chad between representatives of the two sides.

Mahamat Hisseine, spokesman for the government of Chad, told CNN that the document to be signed on Tuesday will "be an agreement as a cease-fire between the government of Sudan and the Justice and Equality Movement." Al-Bashir also called off death sentences against members of the rebel group who were convicted after clashes in the Khartoum suburb of Omdurman.

A permanent cease-fire -- which, according to this preliminary accord, is to be signed before March 15 -- will be a final step, al-Fati said.

Last year, Sudan's government and the JEM rebels signed a confidence-building agreement in Qatar, a step toward ending the six-year conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands.

Qatar has been mediating talks between the two sides in the Darfur conflict, which erupted in 2003 after rebels began an uprising against the Khartoum government.

The government launched a brutal counter-insurgency campaign, aided by government-backed Arab militias that went from village to village in Darfur, killing, torturing and raping residents, according to the United Nations, Western governments and human rights organizations.

Al-Bashir is under pressure to end the fighting, particularly after the International Criminal Court charged him with genocide last year in connection with the government's campaign of violence in Darfur.

In the past seven years, more than 300,000 people have been killed through direct combat, disease or malnutrition, the United Nations says. An additional 2.7 million people fled their homes because of fighting among rebels, government forces and allied militias.

CNN's Jennifer Z. Deaton contributed to this report.


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