Sudanese government signs major deal with opposition group

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Location of Sudan

The government of Sudan signed a landmark agreement on Saturday with the opposition group National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Some issues are yet to be agreed upon, but the deal signals progress in resolving decades of civil war in Sudan.

Sudan, the largest country in Africa, has been rocked by two separate periods of bloody civil war, from 1955 to 1972, and from 1983 to this year. More than 2 million refugees have fled the violence. On January 9, a peace deal was signed between the northern government and southern rebels, paving the way for Saturday's conference.

The conference, located in Cairo, Egypt, was attended by both Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir. The treaty was signed by Sudanese Vice President Ali Osman Taha and NDA leader Mohammed Osman al-Mirghani. The NDA was formed from 13 political parties in 1989 to oppose Bashir's new regime after he seized power in a military coup.

Many in the international community hope that chances are improving for a settlement in the conflict-torn region of Darfur with the main rebel faction, the Sudan Liberation Army. Groundwork is being laid for elections to take place in three years.