The Sudanese government and the major rebel movement in Darfur signed a peace agreement Friday in Abuja, marking a notable progress in an international effort to end years of bloodshed in western Sudan.
This came after the African Union (AU) extended twice the original deadline, set at midnight on April 30.
Minni Minnawi's faction of the Sudan Liberation Movement signed on the agreement, while a faction of the Sudan Liberation Army led by his rival Abdel Wahid Nur and the smaller Justice and Equality Movement rejected the accord.
The two smaller factions expressed concerns that security and compensation for war victims had not been guaranteed. They urged establishment of the post of top presidential adviser from Darfur instead of a vice presidency.
The rejection by the two factions cast doubt on whether the agreement would be workable.
Rebel groups took up arms in Sudan's Darfur region in February 2003, accusing the government of negligence. Many people have been killed in the conflict and more displaced.
With the inking of the agreement, the 7,000-strong AU force, which was deployed in the Darfur region in 2004, are likely to be replaced by a UN peacekeeping mission as the Sudanese government has repeatedly voiced opposition to the deployment of such mission, saying they could only be allowed after the Darfur rebels reach a peace agreement with the Khartoum authorities.
The AU force has been suffering from poor funding and inadequate resources to contain the escalating bloodshed in Sudan's western region.
The deal agreed on Friday was an amended version of an AU drafted document produced after two years of talks. The amendments include stronger security guarantees for the rebels.