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Last Updated: Saturday, 14 October 2006, 21:59 GMT 22:59 UK
East Sudan rebels sign peace deal
Jonah Fisher
BBC News, Khartoum

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir - 25 Sept, 2006
President al-Bashir signed the deal in Eritrea with eastern rebel leaders
The Sudanese government has signed a peace deal with rebels from the east of the country.

The Eastern Front consists of rebels from two movements, the Beja Congress and the Rashaida Free Lions.

They fought a low intensity conflict for 10 years, complaining that their region has been neglected by the central government.

It is the third peace deal in under two years for Sudan following agreements covering the south and Darfur.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir hailed the eastern deal as an example of Africans solving an African problem without foreign help.

Promise of investment

Unlike Sudan's other peace agreements in the south and west, the international community and, in particular, the United Nations, have been excluded from this process.

Eritrea, Sudan's tiny eastern neighbour hosted and mediated four months of talks.

Map of Sudan showing area controlled by eastern rebels
As in Darfur to the west, both the Beja Congress and the Rashaida Free Lions complained that Sudan's east has suffered from neglect and under-investment.

A long-running campaign has been pursued at a low level with attacks on oil installations and government infrastructure. It is thought that in return for signing, eastern rebel leaders have been given ministerial positions in Khartoum and the promise of investment in the region.

The east provides Sudan with its only access to the sea.

Most of the country's trade goes through the area as well as nearly 500,000 barrels of oil a day in a pipeline from the south.

But with Darfur's peace deal floundering and the southern agreement treading water, Khartoum's record of implementing what they sign is at best mixed.

The peace deal is sealed after months of talks

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