Sudan and a rebel group signed a preliminary deal on political and security arrangements, paving the way for reconciliation through ongoing talks.
Sudan’s ruling council and rebel groups restarted peace talks last October to end years of conflict, after a transitional government was put in place following the fall of veteran autocrat Omar al-Bashir.
Friday’s deal, signed in neighbouring South Sudan, grants special status to South Kordofan and Blue Nile, partly under the control of rebel groups.
Representatives of the Khartoum government signed the agreement with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) at a ceremony overseen by South Sudanese President Salva Kiir.
“After this signing we are going to finalise the full agreement and the SPLM-North will be part of the new system in Khartoum,” said Yasir Said Arman, deputy head of the SPLM-N.
Under the deal, South Kordofan and Blue Nile will be allowed to draw up own laws, Arman said. It seeks to resolve long-standing disputes on sharing of resources such as land.
The agreement also seeks to unify various militias and government troops in Sudan’s multiple conflicts into a single military, Arman said.
There was no comment from Abdelaziz al-Hilu, leader of a rival SPLM-North rebel group, the main fighting faction on the ground.
Sudan’s ruling council is committed to the peace process, said General Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, a key figure in Sudan’s top transition council and head of Khartoum’s delegation at the peace talks.
“The government of Sudan is more willing than before to reach a peaceful settlement in Sudan”, Dagalo said at the signing ceremony.