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Darfur Rebels, Sudanese Opposition Party Sign Agreement

The main rebel group in Sudan's Darfur region and a key Sudanese opposition party have signed an agreement calling for a new transitional government to serve until next year's election.

The Sudan UMMA party - led by former Sudanese Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi - and the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) announced the agreement Friday. They maintain that the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement dictates that the mandate ends next week for the government led by President Omar al-Bashir.

The 2005 agreement ended more than 20 years of Sudanese civil war and established the current coalition government. The agreement called for new elections by July 8, but the government has postponed that vote to April of 2010.

Under the agreement signed this week in Cairo, JEM and UMMA call for a transitional government representing all of Sudan, saying it is the only legitimate means to address the constitutional vacuum.

Several opposition parties have called for a new transitional government, saying next week's deadline makes the current government illegitimate. But government officials have rejected that contention.

Darfur rebel groups took up arms against Sudan's government in 2003, accusing it of neglecting Darfur.

The United Nations says the fighting and related violence has killed up to 300,000 people.

President Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court, which accuses him of organizing a campaign of rape, murder and other crimes against Darfur's civilians.

Sudan rejects the ICC's authority, and Mr. Bashir has flouted the court's arrest warrant by traveling to several countries.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.