Sudan’s transitional government has signed a peace deal with several rebel groups that had fought the government of ousted authoritarian president Omar al-Bashir for years. Sudan’s government and the main rebel alliance agreed on a peace deal on Monday August 31, 2020 to end 17 years of conflict.
The Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF), a coalition of rebel groups from the western region of Darfur and the southern states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, signed the peace agreement at a ceremony in Juba, capital of neighbouring South Sudan, which has hosted and helped mediate the long-running talks since late 2019.
The final agreement covers key issues around security, land ownership, transitional justice, power sharing, and the return of people who fled their homes because of war.
It also provides for the dismantling of rebel forces and the integration of their fighters into the national army.
The deal is a significant step in the transitional leadership’s goal of resolving multiple, deeply rooted civil conflicts.
The United States, the United Kingdom and Norway welcomed the peace agreement as a first step in rebuilding stability in the country.
“The peace agreement initialed today between the civilian-led Transitional Government of Sudan and the Sudan Revolutionary Front signifies an important milestone for the ongoing democratic and economic transition of Sudan,” Josep Borrell, the European Union High Representative said.
The initial signing ceremony took place in Juba where the parties to the talks initialed eight protocols for each of the five territorial divisions that include the Darfur region, the Two Areas, Central Sudan, eastern Sudan, and North Sudan.
The event was attended by representatives of IGAD countries, as well as ambassadors of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, envoys from Egypt, the United States and the European Union.
About 300,000 people have been killed in Darfur since rebels took up arms there in 2003, according to the United Nations.
The conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile erupted in 2011, following unresolved issues from bitter fighting there in Sudan’s 1983-2005 civil war.
The rebel forces took up arms against what they said was the economic and political marginalization by the government in Khartoum.
They are largely drawn from non-Arab minority groups that long railed against Arab domination of successive governments in Khartoum, including that of toppled President Omar al-Bashir.
The rebel groups that signed the agreement include the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and Minni Minawi’s Sudan Liberation Army (SLA), both of the western region of Darfur.
Rebel members of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) had provisionally initialed the agreement with the government late on Saturday.
Two rebel factions refused to take part in the deal. An SLM faction led by Abdelwahid Nour and a wing of the SPLM-N headed by Abdelaziz al-Hilu refused to take part. Salva Kiir, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok called on the holdout Abdel Aziz al-Hilu and Abdel Wahid al-Nur to join the peace process and not to miss this historic opportunity, stressing that there is no military solution for the conflict.
The South Sudanese president stressed that the absence of SPLM-N’ leader al-Hilu and th SLM’s leader al-Nur from this ceremony “remains a challenge”.
“In recognition of this unfinished work, we will redouble our efforts in convincing those who are not present in this ceremony to see value in this peace process and to be part of it,” he stressed.
For his part, Malik Agar the leader of the SPLM-N of the Sudanese Revolutionary Front declared that war is over and expressed his readiness to return to Khartoum as soon as possible.
Gibril Ibrahim the leader of Darfur’s Justice and Equality Movement in Darfur said, “The main challenge facing us now is the implementation of the peace agreement, and finding donations to do that.”
But Prime Minister Hamdok said that this peace agreement has been fully negotiated by Sudanese alone before to assert that it would be fully implemented.
The head of the Sudanese Revolutionary Front Hadi Idriss said the negotiated agreement “addresses the roots of crises, presented effective solutions and fair standards for sharing power and wealth, and reforming civil and military service institutions and the system of government”.
Military chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of the Sovereign Council, the country’s collective transitional head of state, welcomed the conclusion of the peace agreement saying it comes in line with the constitutional document and the national efforts to end the war and restore security in the whole Sudan.
“We hope that the people of Sudan will reap the fruits of this agreement with real change that (….) lays the foundations for building a Sudan of freedom, peace and justice,” he said.
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