Sudan President el-Bashir shakes hand with Idriss Deby, President of Chad, at the OIC Summit in Dakar, Senegal. The two nations have signed another peace deal on March 14, 2008.
Originally uploaded by Pan-African News Wire File Photos
The peace deal is also meant to revive a string of bilateral pacts on both sides
The presidents of Sudan and Chad have agreed in principle to prevent armed groups from operating along their shared border area, including the conflict-ridden Darfur region.
In signing the peace deal on Thursday Omar al-Bashir, Sudan's president, and Idriss Deby, his Chadian counterpart, committed to implement past accords that have previously failed to end the violence in the region.
The two leaders agreed to "inhibit all activities of armed groups and prevent the use of our respective territories for the destabilisation of one or the other of our states".
The non-aggression pact calls for the establishment of a monitoring group comprising foreign ministers from each country.
Al-Bashir and Deby sealed the agreement on the sidelines of a summit held by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in Dakar, the Senegalese capital.
They also committed to normalise relations between their countries.
The signing was witnessed by Ban Ki-moon, UN secretary-general, and Abdoulaye Wade, the president of Senegal, who brokered the agreement.
The Sudanese government denies backing armed groups or supplying weapons to Chadian rebels who launched a failed assault last month on N'djamena, the Chadian capital.
Despite Thursday's peace deal, Janjawid militias have levelled allegations against Khartoum, saying the government had used the armed men in putting down a local rebellion.
In an interview with a British television company, Mohammed Hamdan, a Janjawid commander admitted for the first time that the weapons they used and the orders they followed had all come from the Sudanese government.
Hamdan said he had met al-Bashir in his home for orders to carry out campaigns in Darfur and that the government had given them cars and weapons.
The Sudanese government has yet to respond to the claims.
The peace pact is seen as a small step towards ending violence in Darfur.
However, on the same day, the Chadian government accused Sudan of launching "several heavily armed columns" against the country.
It said Chadian rebels based in Sudan had crossed into the border town of Moudeina to launch an offensive.
Sudan, meanwhile, has repeatedly accused Chad of supporting Darfur rebels.
According to the UN, there are about 470,000 refugees in eastern Chad including 250,000 from Darfur and 57,000 from the Central African Republic, as well as 180,000 internally-displaced Chadians.
Sudan, Chad - Latest Peace Pact Tries to Revive Past Failures
14 March 2008
After hours of wrangling over the text of their sixth peace accord in two years, Chadian President Idriss Deby and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir signed the latest agreement late on 13 March in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, vowing once again to stop providing support to rebel groups opposing the other.
The stated aim of the accord is "to put an end, once and for all, to disputes between the two countries and re-establish peace in the sub-region."
The accord was mediated by Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade and signed during the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) summit in the presence of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and an array of African leaders and Arab and western diplomats.
Past agreements also called on both sides to stop providing safe haven to rebel groups. In Chad, rebels bent on ousting President Deby have launched countless attacks including one in February which reached the capital N'djamena. In Sudan, rebels are fighting government forces and allied militias in Darfur the region bordering Chad.
A new element in the latest accord is that Chad and Sudan agree to a "contact group" led by Libya and the Republic of Congo which would meet monthly and monitor compliance.
For Roland Marchal, a Chadian specialist at Sciences Po University in Paris, the international community needs to take more radical action for the situation in the region to change. He also said that peace in the region requires a resolution of each country's internal conflicts.
"[In Chad] If there is no political initiative to get [all sides] around a table, then it is very doubtful that the opposition will simply endorse a deal made by other [outside] actors," Marchal said.
Chadian rebels have already dismissed the new peace pact and vowed to pursue their campaign to overthrow President Deby unless he agreed to a dialogue, according to reports.
Yet the sultan of the Fur, the largest ethnic group in Darfur, was optimistic about the new agreement. "I am hopeful that Sudan and Chad will stop supporting each other's rebels and this will reduce tensions," Sultan Salah Eldine Mahamat Fadoul told IRIN in an exclusive interview while visiting Dakar for the OIC meeting.
"I think Chad and Sudan really need to calm the situation down. The [proxy] war between them has cost them both a lot," he said.
The sultan's religious advisor voiced concern that the meeting between Deby and al-Bashir would not have any impact on people in the region. "They are not at all addressing the situation in a wider context," the Islamic advisor, Deputy-Iman Allami Mahmoud Ousmane, told IRIN. "It's not about ending human suffering in both countries."
Estimates of the number of people killed as a directly and indirectly consequence of fighting in Darfur and eastern Chad run as high as 400,000 with some 2.7 million people displaced.
This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the Pan-African News Wire.