Darfur rebel group declares ceasefire
Darfur's most powerful rebel group has agreed a truce with the Sudanese government, marking a return to peace talks aimed at ending the Darfur conflict.
The truce between the rebel Justice and Equality Movement and the Sudanese government takes effect immediately, Idriss Deby, Chad's president, said in a statement on Saturday.
Justice and Equality Movement spokesman Ahmed Hussein said the deal was a framework agreement to guide future peace negotiations, including talks on a permanent cease-fire. He said it will be formally signed tomorrow in Doha, Qatar, in the presence of Deby and the leaders of Sudan and Qatar.
The rebel group has been the most significant holdout in efforts to end the seven-year conflict in Darfur, in which 300,000 people have lost their lives to violence, disease and displacement.
The Justice and Equality Movement will take part in talks in Qatar which aim to reach a final agreement by March 15, Deby's statement said.
Hussein said Saturday's deal was important to the Darfur peace process.
"It's a significant step for peace in Darfur," said Hussein. "It is a considerable achievement for both parties."
In Sudan's capital, Khartoum, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir announced he was pardoning members of the Justice and Equality Movement on death row who had been convicted for taking part in an attack close to Khartoum in May 2008.
Al-Bashir told a campaign rally he had ordered the immediate release of 30 percent of those he had pardoned. According to Sudanese law only the president can pardon someone on death row or commute his or her sentence.
The May 2008 attack on Khartoum's twin city, Omdurman, was the closest a Darfur rebel group had reached the capital. The government said more than 200 people were killed in the attack that shocked Sudan at the time.
Saturday's developments come as Sudan and Chad have been working for months to improve relations soured by the spillover from the Darfur conflict, with each country accusing the other of supporting the other's rebel groups.
Sudan has often accused Chad of supporting the Justice and Equality Movement, allowing the group to use eastern Chad as its rear base. Saturday's agreement is significant because it appears to have Chad's solid support.
JEM and the Sudan government held peace talks last year that eventually collapsed because the two sides couldn't agree on an exchange of prisoners.
Earlier this month, Deby visited Sudan for the first time in almost six years and discussed with Sudan's president efforts to set up a joint force to patrol their common border.
The UN has said 2.7 million were driven from their homes in Darfur in the fighting between ethnic African rebels and the government and Arab militias.
- 1 Kermit the Frog has a new girlfriend named Denise
- 2 The excuses your boss is most likely to believe when you call in sick
- 3 Moscow voted the world's unfriendliest city
- 4 I'm pansexual – here are the five biggest misconceptions about my sexuality
- 5 More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
The one chart that shows how George Osborne is almost certainly going to be our next Prime Minister
The excuses your boss is most likely to believe when you call in sick
Three-year-old ultra-Orthodox Jewish children told 'the non-Jews' are 'evil' in worksheet produced by London school
Bono's group has made more money from Facebook investment than from all his music
Wikipedia rocked by 'rogue editors' blackmail scam targeting small businesses and celebrities
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
£22000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role is a mixture of office...
£17100 - £20900 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the North West's leading...
£19000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join ...