Sudan, Rebel Group Sign Peace Plan

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ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) – Sudan’s government and the main Darfur rebel group signed a peace plan Friday, a major step in an internationally backed effort to end the death and destruction in western Sudan.

Two rebel groups, however, rejected the accord backed by the African Union, the United States, Britain, the European Union and the Arab League and skipped the signing ceremony at a Nigerian presidential villa.

Optimism over the accord was muted by their absence and a history of failure to live up to agreements struck over two years of negotiations in the Nigerian capital.

Observers broke into applause and whoops of joy as the parties signed the last page and then proceeded to initial each of the 85 pages of a document written by the African Union and revised by U.S., British and other envoys to meet rebel concerns. The hall was filled with traditional leaders in white turbans, fighters in camouflage turbans, diplomats and journalists.

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