Sudan’s government officially signed a peace agreement with the country’s five main rebel groups on Monday, reported Reuters. The deal is a significant step in the transitional government’s goal of resolving civil conflicts. It is expected that the peace agreement will end 17 years of often brutal conflict in Darfur.
The rebel groups that signed the deal include the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and Minni Minawi’s Sudan Liberation Army (SLA), both of the western region of Darfur, and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) led by Malik Agar, present in South Kordofan and the Blue Nile.
The deal covers key issues around security, land ownership, transitional justice, power-sharing, and the return of people who fled their homes due to civil war. The deal involves the disintegration of rebel forces and the integration of their fighters into the country’s national army.
According to the United Nations, about 300,000 people have been killed in Darfur since rebels took up arms there in 2003.
The UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), the United States, the United Kingdom, and Norway welcomed the peace agreement as a first step in rebuilding stability in the country.
“I would like to congratulate Sudanese people on this significant step and commend in particular the signatory parties for their determination, courage and commitment to lasting peace in Sudan”, said Jeremiah Mamabolo, the UNAMID Joint Special Representative, who attended the ceremony.
Mr. Mamabolo added the peace agreement is perceived as the start of a process that includes all in a positive move towards peace, justice, and national unity in Sudan.
Two rebel groups refused to be a part of the deal.
Sudan is currently ruled by a military-civilian government, with elections likely to be held in late 2022. A cease-fire between government forces and the rebels has been in place since al-Bashir’s ouster.