Juba-Sudanese leaders and rebel commanders agreed on Monday a historic peace deal, a crucial first step towards ending 17 years of conflict, an AFP correspondent said.

Leaders of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF), an umbrella organisation of rebel groups from the western region of Darfur and the southern states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, raised their fists in celebration after inking the deal.

The agreement, struck in the capital of neighbouring South Sudan, was “initialled” and not signed, as a way to leave the door open for two key holdout rebel groups to join in a “final” agreement, officials said.