Oct. 3 (UPI) -- The transitional government in Sudan formally signed a historic peace agreement with rebel leaders on Saturday, the country's sovereignty council announced.
Government representatives and a group of armed rebels known as the Sudanese Revolutionary Front took part in the signing ceremony in Juba.
The deal was agreed upon in August and has since undergone negotiations. Two rebel groups, however, did not sign the agreement -- the Darfur-based Sudan Liberation Movement and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North.
Lt. Gen. Mohamed Hamdan "Hemeti" Dagolo, the vice president of the Sudanese transitional government, called it "a proud moment for the country."
"Today is a proud day for Sudan. All parties have focused, engaged, and been relentless in our efforts to finalise this peace deal. The talks succeeded because we entered the negotiations as brothers, not foes," he said.
Hemeti has led negotiations for the deal without international intervention, the sovereignty council said.
"This is a peace that wasn't forced upon us. Rather it's a peace that the Sudanese people brought for themselves," he said.
The agreement is a major step to end violent conflicts stemming from the leadership of former dictator Omar al-Bashir, who was removed from power more than a year ago. He is wanted for war crimes during the Darfur conflict in 2003 and is on trial for the 1989 coup that put him in power.
Hundreds of thousands died in fighting in Darfur in the early 2000s. The Christian-majority south eventually split from Muslim-majority Sudan in 2011 following a civil war.