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Sudan peace deal signed

Agreement does not include embattled Darfur

• Disputes delay Sudan peace deal
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NAIVASHA, Kenya (CNN) -- Sudan's government and main rebel group have signed historic agreements, paving the way for a final deal to end 21 years of civil war.

U.N. Secretary-General hailed the news as a "major step forward."

The government and the Sudanese People's Liberation Army signed three protocols on power-sharing and administering three disputed areas of the country.

Both sides hope to meet again to iron out further details in late June or early July.

But the deal signed Wednesday did not address conflict in western Sudan's Darfur region, where human rights groups accuse government forces and Arab militia of conducting a campaign of "ethnic cleansing" against that region's black Muslim population.

At the United Nations, Annan issued a statement, saying he "welcomes this development and believes it is a major step forward" in the peace process.

In a reference to the unresolved conflict in Darfur, he called on the Sudanese government and rebels in Darfur "to seize the momentum created in Naivasha to reach a political solution in western Sudan, putting an end to the grave humanitarian and human rights situations there."

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell applauded the factions for the three protocols, which taken together, he said, resolve "the outstanding substantive issues that were at the heart of Sudan's civil war."

"We commend both sides for their commitment to peace and urge them to move quickly to work out details of a formal cease-fire and related security arrangements, as well as the means for implementing the agreements signed today," Powell said.

"The people of Sudan can now hope for a new future of peace and prosperity. The United States is deeply committed to assist in the implementation of the peace agreement and in the process of reconstruction and development. We intend to work closely with the international community to ensure that Sudan enjoys the full benefits of peace."

Fighting in Sudan's Darfur region has sent a flood of desperate refugees into neighboring Chad.

The deal is the latest hope for ending the war between Sudan's Arab-dominated Muslim government and rebels in the largely black, Christian and animist south. It follows 100 days of negotiations in Kenya in the most recent round of talks.

Prior to the signing, Foreign Minister Kalonzo Musyoka told CNN, "We expect a ripple effect for Darfur, and that can only be positive."

"I think this is a tremendously important step forward in getting that peace deal for southern Sudan, but there is still much more negotiating to go," said John Prendergast, co-director of the Africa program at the Washington-based International Crisis Group, a non-governmental organization.

An estimated 30,000 people have been killed in Darfur, most of them during "the main ethnic cleansing campaign," which took place from spring 2003 until last February, Prendergast said.

By then, most of those targeted had fled to Chad, been killed or been herded into camps in Sudan, he said. "We're in an interregnum now."

He said many of those in the camps were in a precarious position. "People will start dying again, in large numbers, unless the aid distribution efforts are stepped up considerably," he said.

In testimony to the U.N. Security Council this week, the director of emergency operations for Doctors Without Borders -- known by its French name, Medecins Sans Frontieres -- concurred that the situation remained dire.

"At the end of April, an MSF team conducted a nutritional survey in five villages in the province of Western Darfur, where 100,000 displaced people have sought refuge," said Tom Koene.

"The survey revealed that malnutrition already affects 21.5 percent of children and among them 3.2 percent are suffering from severe malnutrition. ... The survey also showed that as of now, MSF is only reaching 30 percent of the children in need of nutritional assistance in the region surveyed.

"In Kalma camp in Southern Darfur province, our team admitted 200 children in the first few days of the opening of the therapeutic feeding center last week."

He added that 50 percent of recorded deaths among children and 60 percent among adults were a direct result of violence.

Koene said the government had limited the ability of humanitarian organizations to assess the needs and implement aid programs by instituting "exceedingly long and cumbersome visa, travel, and customs procedures."

The international community failed to learn from the genocide in Rwanda 10 years ago, Prendergast said.

"While the ethnic cleansing campaign was ongoing in Darfur, there was not a peep out of the international community."

That community, he said, was instead "so obsessed with Iraq, it could not focus -- or chose not to focus -- on Darfur."

The source of the conflict lies with grab for power, which has been concentrated in the hands of a few people in the center of the country for half a century, leading those who were marginalized to take up arms, Prendergast said.

The war in Darfur and the war in the south are different manifestations of the same problem, he said: "People trying to cut their way in, and shoot their way in to power into the central government."

After briefing the Security Council on the situation in Darfur, U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland told reporters that it "remains extremely worrying."

The number of people in need of immediate help has risen from 1.2 million to 2 million, and another 130,000 refugees are in Chad, he said.

"This is the most dramatic race against the clock that we have anywhere in the world at the moment," he said. "If we lose, hundreds of thousands of women and children, mostly, will perish."

CNN's Gladys Mjoroge in Naivasha contributed to this report.

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