KHARTOUM - Sudanese protest leaders and their rebel partners have ended their differences over a power-sharing deal signed with the country's military rulers, vowing to work jointly for peace, a leading protest group said Thursday.
On July 17, the umbrella protest movement signed a power-sharing accord with Sudan's ruling generals that provides for a transitional civilian administration, the key demand of demonstrators.
But three armed groups who are members of the protest movement had objected to the deal, saying it failed to address peace in the war zones of Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
A group of protest leaders then flew to Addis Ababa for talks with the rebels, and after days of intense negotiations they reached an agreement that was announced on Thursday.
"This agreement has discussed the fundamental roots of war... and aims to reach a comprehensive peace accord with all armed groups," the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) said on its Facebook page.
"The agreement paves the way for establishing comprehensive peace urgently once the transitional process for a civilian government begins."
The SPA said the "Addis Ababa Declaration" aims to "speed up the forming of the transitional civilian government".
It said the three armed groups in the Sudan Revolutionary Front have "reconciled with the Alliance for Freedom and Change on the transitional government and connected peace-related issues with the process of transition".
'We will be stronger'
The rebel groups also confirmed the differences they had with the protest leaders had ended.
"I think with this agreement we will be united, we will be stronger," rebel delegate Nuraddayim Taha said in Addis Ababa.
"This is the first time that such an agreement is linked to issues of democracy and peace. For us, this is the first time in history that an agreement will address the root causes of the conflicts in Sudan."
The rebel groups had been fighting government forces of now ousted president Omar al-Bashir for years in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan.
Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the three conflicts and millions displaced, with hundreds of thousands still living in sprawling camps.
The protest leaders and generals are still to sign what is called the "Constitutional Declaration" to thrash out some outstanding issues, including justice for demonstrators killed during months of protests.
The rebel groups had demanded that the "Constitutional Declaration" specify that peace negotiations would be a top priority for the new government.
Once a peace deal is finalised, sources said the rebel groups want their representatives to be part of the transitional government.
It is still unclear whether this demand had been addressed in the agreement reached between the two sides.
The rebels had also called for the extradition from Sudan of those accused of crimes by the Hague-based International Criminal Court, including Bashir.
Bashir is charged with war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide for his alleged role in the conflict in Darfur that erupted in 2003.
The ruling generals have steadfastly refused to hand over Bashir to the ICC.