The United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) on Saturday welcomed the signing of a peace agreement between the Sudanese government and a main rebel faction over the conflict in Sudan's western Darfur region.
UNMIS spokesman Bahaa Elkoussy told Xinhua that the peace agreement signed on Friday by the Sudanese government and a key faction inside the Sudan Liberation Movement, led by Minni Arkou Minawi, was "a big transformation."
"We hope that this big transformation will have positive impacts on the security and humanitarian situations in Darfur," Elkoussy said.
The spokesman added that a disarmament of the militias and the rebel armed forces would facilitate the activities of the United Nations and other international organizations in Darfur.
On Friday, the Sudanese government and Minawi's faction signed the peace agreement in the Nigerian capital Abuja at a ceremony attended by Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, African Union ( AU) Chairman Denis Sassou-Nguessou and AU Commission President Alpha Oumar Konare as well as mediators from the United States, Britain, Canada, Libya, Egypt and other countries.
However, two other main Darfur rebel factions refused to ink the peace agreement, claiming the deal did not meet their demands, which include a Darfur regional government, a post of Sudanese vice president and compensation for victims of the conflict.
Friday's signing of the peace agreement is expected to help pave the way for the deployment of international peacekeeping forces to replace the 7,800-strong AU forces in Darfur. But the Sudanese government has so far turned down the deployment.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has called on all the concerned parties to seize the historic opportunity to bring the conflict in Darfur to an end.
Rebels in Sudan's western arid Darfur region took up arms against the government in February 2003, accusing Khartoum of neglect.