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The transitional Sudanese government on Monday formalized a peace agreement with the country’s five main rebel groups, a major step in resolving a series of civil conflicts that have torn the country apart for decades.
The historic peace deal intended to end a seventeen-year war in Sudan, in particular in Darfur where hundreds of thousands of people were killed, was initialed, Monday, August 31, by the Sudanese authorities and several rebel movements.
The agreement was initialed in two stages at a ceremony in Juba, South Sudan: first the rebel movements in Darfur, where the war that began in 2003 in the first years left at least 300,000 dead and 2 , 5 million displaced, according to the UN, then the rebel movement of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, where the war affected a million people.
Between the passage of each group of signatories, a singer accompanied by an orchestra sang traditional songs.
For the authorities, it is in khaki military uniform that Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, vice-president of the Sovereignty Council and accused of having committed “atrocities” in Darfur during the civil war, initialed the agreement.
Even more symbolic: the enemies of yesterday, Mohamed Hamdan Daglo and the leaders of the rebel movements, grouped within the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (FRS), shook hands and even initiated a few dance steps.
Many Sudanese leaders present in Juba
The agreement was also initialed, as a witness, by the President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir. Other agreements relating to the development of the country have also been initialed with political and tribal leaders from several regions.
Salva Kiir took his place at the podium under a banner specifying “Mediation Committee for the Peace Talks”, alongside General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who chairs the Sovereign Council at the head of Sudan, and Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok.
To celebrate the first success they can boast of since the fall of the autocrat Omar al-Bashir by the spring of 2019, Sudanese leaders had come in large numbers to Juba. Several foreign countries were also present.
“We know that we are going to face some problems when we start to proceed (with the implementation of this agreement) on the ground, but we have this political will and our friends in the military have this political will to make it work.” , commented to AFP Fayçal Mohamed Saleh, Minister of Information and Culture, on the sidelines of the ceremony.
“It is a great success. We believe that we have thus started the real transformation of Sudan from a dictatorship to a democracy (…) because we are now joined by the armed movements of people from all parts of Sudan “, he continued.
The chief mediator and adviser to the President of South Sudan for security affairs, Tutkew Gatluak, had already rejoiced on Sunday: “The dream has come true after considerable efforts which have made it possible to reach a peace agreement between the government and the Sudanese Revolutionary Front. “
The FRS is made up of four guerrilla movements that fought in Darfur (west), as well as in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states to the south.
A year of negotiations
It took a year to reach this agreement, the mistrust was so deep and the issues difficult.
“At the Juba declaration in September (2019), everyone expected peace to be signed within two or three months, but (…) we realized that the questions were of one rare complexity, ”Abdallah Hamdok said on Sunday.
After the failure of several peace accords, such as the 2006 one in Abuja, Nigeria, and the 2010 one in Qatar, yesterday’s adversaries realized that it was not just a question of security. They got to the bottom of the problems that have plagued the country since its independence in 1956.
The rebels and the government initialed eight protocols constituting the peace agreement: security, land ownership, transitional justice, reparations and compensation, development of the nomadic and pastoral sector, sharing of wealth, sharing of power and return of refugees and displaced persons.
The agreement stipulates that the armed movements will eventually have to be dismantled and that their fighters will have to join the regular army, which will be reorganized to be representative of all components of the Sudanese people.
These peace negotiations were the priority of the new government in Khartoum. “We will soon be examining the implementation of peace in order to assist the return of refugees and displaced persons to their villages and we are optimistic that Sudan will have a better future,” Faisal Mohamed Saleh told the Sunday morning. hurry.
However, there is still some way to go, especially since two groups did not participate in the ceremony: the Sudan Liberation Movement (MLS) of Abdelwahid Nour and the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Sudan-North (SPLA-N ) by Abdelaziz al-Hilu.