DOHA (Reuters) – The government of Sudan has signed a ceasefire deal in Qatar with a Darfur rebel group in a fresh bid to end a decade-old conflict in western Sudan, Qatar’s state news agency QNA reported late on Sunday.
Years of international efforts have failed to end a rebellion in Darfur, where mostly non-Arab insurgents took up arms in 2003 to fight against what they called the Arab-dominated government’s neglect of the region.
QNA said that Sudanese government representative Amin Hassan Amr signed the accord with Mohamed Bashir Ahmed of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) in Doha in the presence of Qatari Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed bin Abdullah al-Mahmoud and the U.N. and African Union chief mediator Aichatou Mindaodou.
Conflict has torn Darfur, an area the size of Spain which covers most of Sudan’s west, since rebels took up arms there in 2003, accusing the government of marginalizing the region.
The government mobilized troops and allied militias to quell the rebellion, unleashing a wave of violence that led human rights groups and the United States to accuse Sudanese officials of carrying out a genocide.
The Sudanese government signed a peace deal brokered by Qatar in 2011 with the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM), an umbrella of smaller rebel factions, but the main rebels refused to join.
Implementation of that deal – known as the Doha agreement – has faltered, according to U.S. Special Advisor for Darfur Dane Smith told reporters in Khartoum during his last trip to the region in that role.