Sudan govt, Minnawi's SLA sign Darfur peace deal - 2 rival factions refused the deal
Majzoub al-Khalifa, head of the government's negotiating team, and rebel Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) faction leader Minni Arcua Minnawi signed the agreement in the Nigerian capital Abuja after days of intense negotiations and international pressure.Note, the report says it was unclear whether the agreement, signed after two years of African Union-mediated talks, will translate into peace on the ground in Darfur. A rival faction of the SLA and the smaller Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) have rejected the deal.- - -
Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo praised the SLA chief for being not only a military commander but a political leader.
"Leadership comes to the fore when hard decisions are to be made," he said to applause from diplomats gathered at Obasanjo's presidential compound.
"Unless the right spirit is there, the right attitude, this document will not be worth the paper it's written on. The spirit that led to the signing should continue to guide the implementation," Obasanjo added.
Both the government and the SLA faction said they were signing the document despite reservations over power sharing and security in order to end the suffering in Darfur.
Sudan, main Darfur rebel group seal peace deal
The deal was signed by representatives of Khartoum and the main faction of the Sudanese Liberation Movement (SLM), led by Minna Minnawi, in the presence of the peace talks host Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and mediators - Sudan Tribune reported May 5, 2006:
But another rebel group, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), and a smaller faction of the divided SLM refused to sign, saying they would not accept the United Nations-sponsored deal.
But while Minnawi’s SLM faction eventually agreed, the smaller SLM faction and the JEM said the proposal still failed to answer demands that Darfur’s three states be united into a single autonomous region.
Abdelwahid Al-Nur, the leader of the smaller SLM faction, said: "We need the document to be improved upon. We are not going to sign it."
A spokesman for Minnawi, Saifaldin Haroun, said the SLM had accepted the AU proposal with the new changes, "but we need to sit with the other SLM (faction) and the JEM and discuss with them."
"We need to go together or else there is going to be a problem. The areas in which we need changes effected are power sharing and security arrangement," Haroun added.
He thanked the international community for its efforts to salvage the talks, which were mediated by the AU in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.
"We cherish the international community and we do not want to lose their support. Our acceptance of the document is the first step to peace," he added.
Despite massive pressure from international mediators, both the SLM groups and the JEM had initially refused to sign the deal, even at the risk of international sanctions.
Zoellick Friday insisted the peace proposal could satisfy the warring parties.
"What this agreement does, it creates an obligation on the government to take the steps many people around the world want them to take in terms of disarming and neutralizing the Janjaweed," he said.
"It also creates an opportunity for the rebel movements to begin (the) integration process. They already have an obligation to ceasefire."
Zoellick said "the agreement creates political opportunities so people will have to decide if they want to be part of it or not."