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Posted On: 24 February 2010 02:56 pm
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:10 pm

Historic Darfur truce signed

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Qatar’s diplomatic initiative has brought to an end seven years of violence and bloodbath in Darfur, a terrain of Sudan blessed with immense yet unutilised natural resources. Doha’s mediation between the Sudanese government and Darfur rebel groups, including the heavily armed Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), eventually met with success as the two sides inked a ceasefire and framework agreement here yesterday. But only one of the three factions of JEM signed the historic accord while the remaining two whose representatives were here have agreed to form a single group and said they agreed to the accord. Immediately after the deal was signed Qatar pledged a whopping $1bn to a fund to reconstruct Darfur, which remains battered by the bloody conflict which has claimed thousands of lives and left many homeless. A final peace deal between Khartoum and the Darfur rebels will need to be backed by other armed rebel factions as well. The agreement came into force in Darfur last night, said JEM leader Ibrahim Khalil. Present at the signing ceremony held at the Doha Sheraton at 9.57pm were The Emir, H H Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno and Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki. Also represented at the meeting were the African Union (AU), the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), the Arab League and the United Nations-AU joint mediator and special envoy of the UN peacekeeping mission in Darfur. The meeting began at Al Majlis Hall of Sheraton Doha at 8.37pm with the Emir speaking first. He said resumption of relations between Chad and Sudan had played a key role in reaching the ceasefire accord. He hailed Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and the UN-AU joint mediator for pushing peace talks between Khartoum and JEM. Then spoke the Sudanese President Omar Hassan Al Bashir, followed by Idriss Deby. Bashir in his speech hailed Qatar’s initiative and thanked the country for pledging $1bn for the rebuilding effort in Darfur. The 12-point provisional deal offers the JEM a power-sharing role in Sudan where the first presidential and legislative elections in 24 years are to be held in April. The agreement also entails sharing of resources between Khartoum and the people of Darfur and the return of refugees. Article 3 of the ceasefire accord states that the Sudanese government and the JEM agreed on “the participation of the JEM at all levels of power”, wire agencies reported. The ceasefire and framework deal was signed on behalf of Khartoum by Sudanese minister Amin Hassan Omer, and Ahmed Tugud of JEM. The Secretary General of AU, Jin Ping, said despite its limited resources the AU had worked to resolve the conflict in Darfur. “We sent peacekeeping forces to Darfur,” he said. Arab League leader Ahmed bin Helli described the meeting as historic and said his boss Amr Moussa was in Sudan leading a delegation of Arab investors to exploit business and investment opportunities. OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu called upon other rebel groups in Darfur to join the peace accord and make the peace process everlasting. Ihsanoglu said a donors’ conference will be held for Darfur on March 13 in Cairo. It will be sponsored by Egypt and Turkey.