The Sudanese government this week signed a truce with the most powerful rebel group in Darfur, as part of a pledge to end the region's seven-year conflict.
Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir signed the cease-fire with the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) last night in Qatar.
The truce is part of a recent pledge by Sudan and Chad to end hostilities along the border region. Each had accused the other of backing rebels in their countries.
In Sudan, A Step Toward Ending Darfur Conflict
As part of the deal, Sudan has agreed to assign rebels to government posts, cancel death sentences against them and release 30 percent of imprisoned rebels.
The agreement is not a peace agreement, but a framework agreement that includes a ceasefire between the parties, according to Faud Hikmat, the African Union and Sudan special advisor for the International Crisis Group.
The significance of the agreement, he said, is that it comes in the lead-up to elections, which are only a couple of weeks away and which are “very crucial for Sudan,” said Hikmat.
JEM became Darfur’s strongest rebel group “when they (JEM) attacked Omdurman. That became significant,” he said. “That led them to ascend over the other groups in Darfur…given [the fact that] they managed to reach Khartoum.
“However,” he said, “other groups in Darfur have more controlled areas than JEM. They have the strength and mobility to cross border and inflict damage and return back into Chad.”