Sudan, rebel faction sign deal on peace talks

The "declaration of principles" signed with the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) faction lays out priorities including the unification of armed forces and the establishment of a democratic, secular state with freedom of religion.

Members of the United Nations and African Union peacekeeping mission (UNAMID) look on as Sudanese internally displaced people stage a sit in to protest against the end of their mandate, in Kalma camp in Nyala, the capital of South Darfur, on 31 December 2020. Picture: AFP.

JUBA - Sudan's government signed an agreement with a rebel faction on Sunday to guide future peace negotiations as the country's transitional leaders move to put an end to myriad internal conflicts.

The "declaration of principles" signed with the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) faction lays out priorities including the unification of armed forces and the establishment of a democratic, secular state with freedom of religion.

It was signed by Sudanese head of state General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Abdelaziz al-Hilu, head of the SPLM-N wing.

The group is based in the states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile in the country's south. The signing took place in South Sudanese capital Juba.

"The next thing is the two parties will resume talks three weeks from now," mediation team official Ramadan Goch told AFP.

"They are now going to organise their teams and prepare to resume the peace talks."

The transitional government in Khartoum, which includes soldiers and civilians installed after the 2019 overthrow of Omar al-Bashir's 30-year dictatorship, have made peace with the country's rebel groups a priority.

A historic agreement was signed in October with the Sudan Revolutionary Front, an alliance of rebel groups from the Darfur, Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan regions.

A branch of the Sudan Liberation Movement led by Abdelwahid Nour in Darfur refused to sign.

Al-Hilu's SPLM-North signed a separate ceasefire, allowing its fighters to keep their weapons for "self-protection" until the Sudanese constitution is amended to guarantee separation of state and religion.

South Kordofan and to a lesser extent Blue Nile state have significant Christian populations who have fought for decades to end the imposition of Islamic law by Khartoum.

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