By Deng Machol
Juba – Sudanese transitional government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM)/northern sector – led by Malik Agar have signed a security arrangement deal in an effort to end decades of conflict in Sudan.
Earlier this week, the two sides signed initial letters on a security arrangement agreement related to South Kordofan and Blue Nile areas in Juba, the capital of South Sudan.
This comes after the parties agreed on a power-sharing formula and the provision of humanitarian relief to the war-affected population in January, this year.
The SPLM/northern sector has been fighting the government in South Kordofan and Blue Nile areas since 2011 after South Sudan won independence. The movement later split into two factions, one led by Malik Agar and the other by Abdelaziz al-Hilu.
The rebel groups are largely drawn from non-Arab minority groups that long railed against Arab domination of successive governments in Khartoum.
The agreement was mediated by President Salva Kiir’s Advisor, Tut Gatluak.
The 50-page document signed, included establishment of a mechanism to reform the military and security institution, disarmament and also to integrate the SPLM fighters in the military and security institutions so that there would be one professional and unpoliticized army.
The deal also include a ban on the recruitment of child soldiers and an undertaking not to advance beyond the current lines of control.
Sudanese transitional government, which took power after the army ousted longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir last year, has been holding talks in neighbouring South Sudan since October 2019 with the four main rebel factions from Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile regions that have yet to lay down their arms, to reach a peace deal.
With this deal, both parties have pledged to transform the army into a force that respects civilians and international laws.
Yasir Saeed Arman, Deputy Chairperson of Malik Agar faction of the SPLM-North stated that the deal will open doors for major reforms within the security sector in Sudan, as it would also establish relations between the army and the civilian authority.
“I would like to pledge to the people of Sudan that we will contribute to the development of a professional national army that will protect all the Sudanese,” said Arman, “one that will give hope and joy to our people in Darfur, south Khordufan, Nuba mountains, western Khordufan, Blue Nile, eastern Sudan, north Sudan and all the areas in Sudanese.”
Meanwhile, Sudan’s Minister of Defense said the new protocol has the potential to end the circle of armed conflicts in restive country.
“We have made the first step in the right direction, and we hope that this agreement will be the beginning and a catalyst for many agreements to come…God willing,” said Minister.
Tut Gatluak, chief mediator of the Sudanese Peace talks described the new security deal as a ‘comprehensive.
“This agreement of the two areas shows everyone is concerned about the security arrangement because it covers every issue in Sudan,” said Gatluak, South Sudan presidential advisor on security affairs
“If there is insecurity in Khartoum, there surely will be insecurity in Juba, because we share our national security, said Gatluak, “We will try our best to bring about peace and stability for the people of Sudan because peace in Sudan means peace in South Sudan.”
However, the SPLM-North faction under Abdulaziz Adm El-hilo is also expected to negotiate and sign the security protocol with the Sudanese Transitional government.
The two sides are in disagreement on how to tackle the relationship between religion and state.
South Sudan’s mediation team is also expected to present a draft document on security arrangement in Darfur to the government, Sudan Revolutionary Front and the Sudan Liberation Movement of Minni Minnawi soon.
Once, the security arrangements deal is completed, this will pave way for the signing of a comprehensive peace agreement that will put into end a bloodshed in Sudan.