Sudanese government and representatives of Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), one of the major anti-government forces, signed a framework agreement on reconciliation in Doha, capital city of Qatar on February 17. According to the agreement, both sides are willing to grant ceasefire and reached deals on issues such as the exchange of prisoners of war, the return of refugees and the delivery of relief materials. The two sides promised to start the next round of negotiations within three months in Doha.

The Doha reconciliation talk was arranged with the help of mediation of African Union (AU), League of Arab States (LAS) and Qatar government. It is the first time the two sides have peace talk since 2007. They agreed to release prisoners of war and detainees, to stop attacking refugee camps and repatriating war refugees, and to ensure the safe delivery of humanitarian relief materials.

The signing of the framework agreement marks the first step towards the establishment of mutual trust. The following step should be to carry on the peace talks, put an end to all the hostile acts and involve other parties in the reconciliation process. There are dozens of anti-government forces in Sudan, but major forces such as Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM), which holds critical or even negative attitudes towards the peace talks, did not attend the negotiation. Consequently, the intention of other anti-government forces in Sudan is still unknown, adding more uncertainties to the peace process in Darfur.

Chinese government voices strong support to the Qatar peace deal and speaks highly of the peace talks and the framework agreement that AU, LAS and Qatar’s government painstakingly worked out. Chinese ambassador to Qatar took part and delivered a speech in the signing ceremony. China’s stance on Darfur issue remains unchanged: only a political solution can peacefully solve the Darfur issue. Sudanese government, anti-government forces and other NGOs need to work out a solution that respects the interests of all parties through peaceful negotiation and talks.

It has been six years since the war in Sudan Darfur broke out in February 2003. International mediation proved to be fruitless. Although many deals have been signed, such as the 2006 Darfur Peace Agreement, its contents were not implemented and no ceasefire had been granted so far. Therefore, the framework agreement should mark the beginning of a positive progress. However, there are still difficulties for realizing the peace deal in the region. The top priority so far should be to bring all the anti-government forces in Sudan back to the negotiation table. Moreover, the settlement of the Darfur issue depends on the political attitude, from both sides, to seek peace, as well as on the mediation and endeavors of the international community.

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