Sudan's government has accepted a plan for a joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force in the troubled Darfur region.
A joint statement from Sudan, the U.N. and A.U. says Sudan has accepted the proposals on the so-called "hybrid operation," after getting explanations and clarifications from the two international bodies.
The statement also says Sudan, the U.N., and the A.U. agree on the need for an immediate, comprehensive ceasefire in Darfur along with an inclusive political process.
A senior A.U. official, Said Djinnit, read the statement on Tuesday at the conclusion of a two-day meeting in Addis Ababa.
Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir initally agreed last November to a three-stage plan that would place around 20-thousand U.N. peacekeepers in Darfur. But he had since wavered on acceptance of the plan and stalled on its implementation.
The new plan envisions a force of between 17- and 19-thousand troops. The A.U. currently has about seven thousand peacekeepers in Darfur who have not been able to stop the region's violence.
A rebellion in 2003 set off the violence, which the U.N. estimates has killed at least 200-thousand people and displaced more than two million others.
Human rights groups accuse government-backed militias of carrying out brutal acts of murder and rape as part of efforts to crush the multiple rebel groups. Some Western nations, including the United States, have called the situation "genocide."
Sudan denies backing the militias and disputes U.N. estimates of the death toll.
The A.U. official today said the new peacekeeping plan requires approval of the U.N. Security Council.