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Sudan, Second Darfur Rebel Group Agree to Truce

The government of Sudan has reached a cease-fire agreement with another Darfur rebel grouping. The truce deal, signed in Doha during ongoing peace talks, follows a similar deal last month with the rebel Justice and Equality Movement.

Joining the cease-fire is the Liberation and Justice Movement, a coalition of several small Darfur rebel groups who joined forces in recent weeks.

A Sudanese vice president, Ali Osman Mohammed Taha, in Doha for the signing of the truce, said the government is ready now to move toward a final, comprehensive agreement.

Taha also called for Darfur's largest rebel faction, the Justice and Equality Movement, to join the negotiations to reach a final peace deal.

The Justice and Equality Movement agreed to a truce with Sudan's government in February, but its leaders have balked at the idea of other rebel groups signing a separate deal, arguing anti-government forces should speak with one voice, theirs.

Despite the deals, sporadic violence continues in the western Sudanese region. Rebels took up arms against the government in 2003, unleashing a brutal civil war and widespread banditry.

The United Nations estimates 300,000 people have died in the conflict. Khartoum says the number is 10,000. Sudan's President Omar Hassan Bashir is wanted on international charges of war crimes.

After the signing in Doha, Vice President Taha thanked the leaders of Qatar for sponsoring the negotiations, which are also being attended by several foreign mediators.

Taha also expressed his gratitude to Qatar for setting up a special bank for Darfur reconstruction, and donating $1billion to the cause.

Darfur, even more so than other parts of Sudan, is in desperate need of basic infrastructure. Sunday, the Organization of the Islamic Conference is holding a donor conference for Darfur in Cairo.