CAIRO — Darfur's most powerful rebel group and the Sudanese government on Tuesday signed a truce after a year of internationally sponsored negotiations, raising hopes the bloody seven-year conflict could draw to a close.
Rebel leader Khalil Ibrahim of the Justice and Equality Movement announced the cease-fire would begin that night as the international sponsors of the talks announced a $1 billion development fund for the war ravaged region.
The once bitter enemies, Ibrahim and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, shook hands and embraced after the signing. The ceremony, hosted by Qatar's Emir Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, was attended by US, UN, African and Arab representatives among others.
The next challenge for the mediators will be getting the dozens of other rebel splinter groups to join the process as the arduous power and wealth-sharing talks begin, especially since JEM is primarily a military movement without the popular base of other rebel groups.
Previous cease-fires and partial peace deals have been short-lived.