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Sudan takes a small step to peace. -

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ELEANOR HALL: The Sudanese Government today signed a peace deal in Khartoum with the country's main
rebel group.

The United Nations estimates that the war which began in 2003 has killed 300,000 people and made
almost three million people homeless.

But analysts are already warning that the latest peace deal could trigger a new round of fighting.

Barney Porter explains.

BARNEY PORTER: Signing the accord, the Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir said it was time
for peace.

OMAR HASSAN AL-BASHIR (translated): All the people in Darfur from all walks of life, whether in the
Government or outside, liberation movement or otherwise, have all come to the conclusion that peace
is a necessity as people have suffered enough from this war.

BARNEY PORTER: The provisional deal offers a power sharing role to Darfur's biggest and most
heavily armed rebel group, the Justice and Equality Movement, or JEM.

Mahjoub Hussein is a spokesman.

MAHJOUB HUSSEIN (translated): In the name of JEM and in the name of our steadfast and patient
people I welcome the opening of dialogue in Doha and the beginning of a peace deal. We confirm our
full cooperation in the efforts for peace building.

BARNEY PORTER: The UN chief, Ban Ki-moon, has hailed the peace accord as an important stage.
Britain has also praised the deal while Washington has described it as a significant move.

But the US special envoy to Sudan, Scott Gration, says it's too early to claim success.

SCOTT GRATION: What will really see success is when not the agreement is signed but when the lives
of the people on the ground are changed. Where the little children that are there walking around
right now look forward to a day that they'll have a better and brighter future, when people will be
safe, where they'll have their dignity and human rights back, where they'll be able to voluntarily
go back to their homes that they left a while ago. That's when we'll see if this agreement has been

BARNEY PORTER: And there are already concerns that Khartoum's offer to share power with its main
foe in Darfur could alienate other smaller rebel groups and complicate presidential and legislative
elections scheduled for April.

Sudan analyst, professor Eric Reeves, is from Smith College in Massachusetts.

ERIC REEVES: The chances for this peace deal bringing a genuine peace to Darfur are almost
non-existent. This may be the starting of negotiations that will lead to a more inclusive peace
process that would include the other rebel groups which are not dominated, as the Justice and
Equality Movement is, by the Zaghawa. Other civil society elements, Arab tribal groups, which have
been left out of the peace process entirely.

This is only the first step and it is one that comes with a lot of suspicious side agreements,
apparently, having been made.

BARNEY PORTER: So what of those other smaller rebel groups? How would they be brought to the table?

ERIC REEVES: That's a very good question. They have proved fractious. They have divided among
themselves repeatedly.

The one thing this peace agreement might do though is that the Justice and Equality Movement is
dominated by the Zaghawa, one of the non-Arab tribal groups in Darfur. Nearly all the other rebel
groups either have a Fur or Masalit majority, primarily Fur. Now, the Fur are the largest
non-African, non-Arab ethnic group on Darfur and this may just be the catalyst that brings them

One speculation is that the Justice and Equality Movement will be used by the regime in Khartoum as
a military force against the hold-out rebel groups. That would see an enormous upsurge in violence
in Darfur.

BARNEY PORTER: And is that the likely scenario you believe we'll see?

ERIC REEVES: It's an open question at this point. If we see rising clashes between JEM and the
other rebel movements, if we see JEM incorporated into the military, I think that could be a very,
very ominous sign.

ELEANOR HALL: Professor Eric Reeves, from Smith College in Massachusetts, speaking to Barney