Sudan and Darfur rebel group sign cease-fire
DOHA, Qatar — Sudan's government and a collection of Darfur rebel groups signed a cease-fire Thursday — the second such deal in less than a month with a key rebel faction — opening the way for political negotiations ahead of a full peace agreement.
The truce was signed by Sudanese government representative Ghazi Salah Eddin Atabani and Al-Tijani Al-Sissi, the leader of the Liberation and Justice Movement, an umbrella organization that includes several small Darfur rebel groups that recently united to negotiate with the government.
"Achieving peace is very close now and it is time for all parties to indulge in the development process," said Qatar's crown prince Sheik Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, whose country mediated the talks.
Sudan's Vice President Ali Osman Taha, who attended the signing ceremony, vowed that his government would be fully committed to pushing forward with the political talks to reach final peace agreement.
Wednesday's agreement comes less than a month after the Sudanese government signed a similar deal in Doha with Darfur's most powerful rebel group, the Justice and Equality Movement.
At a lavish signing ceremony, Qatar's prime minister, Sheik Hamad Bin Jassem Al Thani, told reporters the signing of the cease-fire was with JEM's knowledge and that Qatar had accepted the mediation with the full support of the Arab League.
The U.N. estimates that some 300,000 people have died and 2.7 million have been displaced since ethnic African tribesman in the vast arid western Darfur region took up arms against the Arab-dominated central government complaining of discrimination, lack of political representation and neglect.