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Sudan agrees with rebels on plan to end conflict in Darfur

Deal outlines the different issues the parties will need to tackle during the latest round of talks in Juba

Sudanese women protest during a visit by the country's prime minister at camp for internally displaced people in El-Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state, in November. AFP
Sudanese women protest during a visit by the country's prime minister at camp for internally displaced people in El-Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state, in November. AFP

The Sudanese government and a coalition of nine rebel groups on Saturday agreed on a road map towards ending the bloody conflict in the Darfur region.

The deal outlines different issues the parties will need to negotiate during the latest round of talks in Juba.

"We believe this is an important step," said Ahmed Mohamed, the chief negotiator on Darfur matters from the Sudan Revolutionary Front coalition.

"This step no doubt will help the process to achieve a lasting peace in Darfur and also it will enable the transitional process in Sudan to move smoothly without hindrances," Mr Mohamed said.

Among the issues they agreed need to be tackled are the root causes of the conflict, the return of refugees and internally displaced people, power sharing and the integration of rebel forces into the national army.

The deal also states that the Sudanese government will address land issues, such as the destruction of property during the conflict.

Khartoum has been negotiating with different rebel groups in the capital of South Sudan for two weeks, in the latest round of efforts to end conflicts in the Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan regions.

Rebels in these areas fought bloody campaigns against marginalisation by Khartoum under ousted president Omar Al Bashir.

The Darfur fighting broke out in 2003 when ethnic minority rebels took up arms against Al Bashir's Arab-dominated government.

Human rights groups say Khartoum targeted suspected pro-rebel ethnic groups with a scorched earth policy, raping, killing, looting and burning villages.

Al Bashir, who was sentenced to two years for corruption and is awaiting trial on other charges, is wanted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague for his role in the conflict that killed about 300,000 people and displaced 2.5 million, according to the United Nations.

However, there is fresh hope for peace after Sudan's transitional government, led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, made peace in these areas a priority.

"We failed to achieve a lasting peace for Darfur simply because the previous government was not ready to take strategic decisions to resolve the conflict in Darfur," said Mr Mohamed, who has been involved in previous failed peace talks.

General Samsedine Kabashi, the top Sudanese government representative at the talks, said: "We are committed to ending all the problems in Darfur and ensuring that we restore peace and stability, not only in Darfur but across all parts of the country."

The peace process began in August and mediators aim to reach a final deal by February 2020.

Updated: December 29, 2019 01:53 PM

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