The Sudanese government and the south's main rebel group Friday signed remaining protocols ahead of a comprehensive peace deal scheduled to be concluded next month.
The Sudanese government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement have now agreed on a permanent cease-fire and details of how to implement already-signed protocols spelling out power-sharing, wealth-sharing and security arrangements.
With Friday's signing of two remaining protocols, officials say there is nothing now that stands in the way of a final peace deal to end 21 years of war.
"The parties did not shy away from making the difficult decisions that today will usher in an era of peace and tranquility in southern Sudan," explained the Kenyan mediator of the north-south peace talks, retired General Lazaro Sumbeiywo. "We now have all of the components that will form the comprehensive Sudan peace agreement here."
Negotiators are expected next month to wrap up the peace deal, which is the culmination of two years of talks that took place in Kenya.
General Sumbeiywo urged the international community to help in efforts to rebuild the war-torn country.
Kenyan Vice President Moody Awori told the gathering, the north-south peace process is a model for other African countries at war.
He warned that the coming months would be crucial to achieving peace in the country.
"Comprehensive and timely implementation of the agreements will be more important, more challenging, and even more complicated, which we believe will be equal to the task," said Moody Awori.
Mr. Awori urged that the lessons learn ed in the north-south peace process be used to resolve the conflict in the Darfur region of western Sudan, which has been raging for almost two years.
During the peace process, the leader of the rebel group, John Garang, and Sudanese Vice-President Ali Osman Taha had periodically sat down to negotiate broad agreements. They were both on hand Friday to express their joy that a deal is imminent.
Also present at Friday's signing ceremony were Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir and South African President Thabo Mbeki.
The north-south war in Sudan has claimed an estimated two million lives and displaced many more since it began in 1983.
The conflict pits a largely Muslim north against a Christian and animist south. The fighting also centers on oil-rich areas in the south, where local populations have been forcibly removed to get to the oil.