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Sudanese government to sign formal peace deal with Darfur rebels

From Jennifer Z. Deaton, CNN
Sudan's serving President Omar al-Bashir has been charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Sudan's serving President Omar al-Bashir has been charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Preliminary document for the framework agreement was signed Saturday in Chad
  • Qatar has been mediating talks between the two sides in the Darfur conflict
  • Sudan president Omar al-Bashir charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity
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(CNN) -- Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir's government will formally sign next week a framework agreement for a cease-fire with rebels in Sudan's volatile Darfur region, a rebel representative and state media said Saturday.

Dr. Tahir al-Fati, chairman of the rebel group Justice and Equality Movement's legislative assembly, told CNN that a preliminary document for the framework agreement was signed Saturday in Chad between representatives of the two sides.

He said the framework agreement will be formally signed Tuesday in Doha, Qatar.

Al-Bashir said Saturday that it will be signed within two days, Sudan's state news agency, SUNA, reported. The president also called off death sentences against members of the rebel group who were convicted after clashes in the Khartoum suburb of Omdurman.

Mahamat Hisseine, spokesman for the government of Chad, told CNN that the document to be signed on Tuesday will "be an agreement as a cease-fire between the government of Sudan and the Justice and Equality Movement [JEM]."

He added, "All these details would be part of a general cease-fire agreement that is still being finalized."

A permanent cease-fire will be a final step, al-Fati said.

Last year, Sudan's government and the JEM rebels signed a confidence-building agreement in Qatar, a step toward ending a six-year conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands.

Qatar has been mediating talks between the two sides in the Darfur conflict, which erupted in 2003 after rebels began an uprising against the Khartoum government.

The government launched a brutal counter-insurgency campaign, aided by government-backed Arab militias that went from village to village in Darfur, killing, torturing and raping residents, according to the United Nations, Western governments and human rights organizations.

Al-Bashir is under pressure to end the fighting, particularly because he was charged with genocide by the International Criminal Court last year for the government's campaign of violence in Darfur.

In the past seven years, more than 300,000 people have been killed through direct combat, disease or malnutrition, the United Nations says. An additional 2.7 million people fled their homes because of fighting among rebels, government forces and allied militias.

 
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