Sudanese sign peace accord

Negotiated with Eritrean help, the deal aims to end a 12-year armed conflict, Sudanese public radio reported.

The agreement on power-sharing, the sharing of resources and security arrangements was signed by Mustafa Osman Ismail, Khartoum’s negotiator, and Mussa Mohammed Ahmed, chief of the Eastern Front.

The signing took place at the presidential palace in the Eritrean capital of Asmara in the presence of President Issaias Afeworki.

During the ceremony, Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir called the peace deal an example of “Africans solving an African problem without foreign help”.

He then reiterated Sudan’s rejection of a United Nations proposal to send a peace-keeping force to the western region of Darfur.

It’s the third peace agreement signed by Sudan with rebel groups in various parts of the largest nation in Africa in less than two years.

An agreement with the main rebel faction in Darfur was signed in May, but has failed to take hold.

A landmark peace deal was also signed with southern rebels in January last year, ending more than two decades of fighting – the longest civil war in Africa.

The former rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement is now in a national unity government with Beshir’s National Congress, but relations have often been strained.

Beshir was to meet Eritrean President Issaias Afeworki on the sidelines of the ceremony, the Sudanese state news agency SUNA reported.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit and Arab League Secretary General Amr Mussa are among the foreign officials who attended the signing, which comes amid mounting pressure on Khartoum over Darfur.

The latest round of negotiations between the Sudanese government and the Eastern Front resumed after a ceasefire agreement was reached on June 19.

The Eastern Front was created last year by the region’s largest ethnic group, the Beja, and the Rashidiya Arabs.

They have similar aims to better-known counterparts in Darfur – greater autonomy and control of resources.

Its members have waged a low-level insurgency, and Sudan says the push to defuse the eastern crisis is part of efforts to pacify the whole country by building on peace pacts reached with other rebels.

Sudan’s vast eastern provinces include porous and volatile borders with Eritrea and Ethiopia and access to the Red Sea, the key to the country’s economy.