By Deng Machol
Juba – Sudan’s transitional government and several rebel groups, the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) have signed a historic peace agreement in neighbouring South Sudan raising fresh hope for a new beginning.
The Juba peace deal aimed at ending the country’s decades of protracted conflicts that have uprooted millions and killed hundreds of thousands people in the country’s restive Darfur region, Southern Blue Nile and the Nuba Mountains.
In a cloudy weather, thousands crowd gathered at Dr. John Garang De Mabior Mausoleum, with a lot of jubilations, to witnessed the signing ceremony that includes agreement on protocols for security, land ownership, transitional justice, power-sharing and the return of refugees.
The deal also provides for the integration of rebel forces into the Sudan armed forces, to form a unified national army whose mandate would only be to protect the people of Sudan.
Gen. Abdel Fattah Al -Burhan inked a peace deal on behalf of the Sudanese transitional government.
The factions led by Abdel Wahid, along with the SPLM-North led by Abdel Aziz Adam al-Hillu, have not signed the latest peace agreement.
The guarantors are South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir, the President of Chad Marshall Idriss Dibbi, and the United Arab Emirates.
However, the War in Darfur is a major conflict that began in February 2003 when the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) rebel groups began fighting the government of Sudan, which they accused of oppressing Darfur’s non-Arab population.
While, conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile erupted in 2011, as South Sudan seceded from Sudan, following unresolved issues from bitter fighting there in Sudan’s 1983-2005 civil war.
Several peace initiatives including some spearheaded by the Arabs, with its most notable being the Doha Peace Agreement, have failed with both sides blaming each other for lacking will to fully implement that agreement.
Speaking during the signing ceremony, South Sudan president Salva Kiir said he is equally delighted that he has pulled off the achievement despite huge challenges facing his own country.
“Our mediation of the Sudanese conflict is primarily driven by our view of a stability in the Sudan as our own stability and by our lived experiences that have influenced us to reject violence or logic of force in disputes resolution,” said Kiir – we also see our mediation as repayment of a huge debt of gratitude we owe the Sudan for the role it played and continues to play as a member of IGAD and as a guarantor of our peace agreement.”
President Kiir also admitted that it is not going to be an easy business, especially with the economic reality facing Sudan presently to implement the deal, adding that it need really support.
“We have no illusions that the implementation of Sudan agreement that we are celebrating today will not be an easy business especially with the economic reality facing the Sudan presently, Sudan needs significance financial resources to rebuild the infrastructures destroyed by the war and floods and more importantly, to address its glaring development disparities which have always been at the root cause of its conflict,” said president Kiir. With this in mind, I therefore take this opportunity to appeal to the international community in general and Gulf Arab states in particular to make good on their pledges to support the implementation of peace agreement in Sudan.”
President Kiir has reminded Sudanese rival parties that their work is not yet done – this is not a time to relax – the tasks of peace building is still a big challenge.
For the peace to durable, comprehensive and inclusive, president Kiir said his country need to redouble its efforts to bring those opposition groups that remain outside the peace frame work.
“We also urge our Sudanese brothers and sisters to recognize that this breakthrough is the result of their own desire for peace and determination to achieve it,” said Kiir.
On the other hand, Abdel – Fattah Al – Burhan, head of the Sudan Sovereign Council, said the peace was another step in the right direction for Sudan.
“The Sudanese people are in dire need of peace to overcome the social, economic and political effects of the war. Peace is right for all the parties and for the future of the Sudanese people – we are determined not to take this country back to the times of war; we should all be on the path of peace,” said Burhan.
Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said the peace deal would open new horizons for development, progress and security.
“The people of Sudan have been waiting patiently for freedom – Sudan now had freedom and justice and we need to carry this freedom into the future,” said Hamdok.
Meanwhile, the regional heads of states, have also pledged their unwavering support to the Sudanese peace deal, described it as an act of ‘Pan Africanism.’
Ethiopian president, Sahle – Work Zewde said the Sudanese peace deal affirms the African Union slogan of ‘African Solution’ for ‘African problem.’
“Sudanese have once again demonstrated their legendary wisdom and ability in resolving their differences among themselves peaceful through dialogue,” said Zewede. “Peace in the Sudan will have a huge impact, not only for the Sudanese but for the entire region and indeed, the continent. It is a significant peace deal for our region – for peace in the Sudan is a peace in the neighborhood and beyond,” she added.
Somalia president Mohamed Abdullai Farmaajo said effective implementation of Juba peace deal has the prospect to bring lasting peace, stability and hope to Sudan and better future for the region.
“The effective implementation of Juba peace agreement has real potential to bring lasting peace, stability and hope for Sudan – with the end to hostility in Sudan – the silence of guns in this region will also mean a better future for our entire region and by extension, the whole world,” said Farmaajo.
Ugandan prime minister, Ruhakana Rugunda said his country upholds Pan Africanism as key principals to African peace and security and to economic transformation.
“The signing of the Sudanese peace agreement is a positive development, in the plan of the transitional government to bring an end to the devastating conflict in Sudan,” said Rugunda, adding that Uganda to the ongoing efforts to have Sudan removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism in order to unlock the country’s potential through improved investments and productions which will boost Sudan economy for wellbeing of the Sudanese people,” said Rugunda.
Both the United Nations and the Troika countries has welcomed the Juba peace deal signed by the Sudanese transitional government and armed movements presents a new era of peace for Sudan.
“The signing of the Juba peace agreement signals the dawn of a new era for the people of Sudan,” said Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General in a video message during the signing ceremony on Saturday. “It is a milestone on the road to achieving sustainable peace and inclusive development.”
The UN chief also commended the role played by South Sudan to mediate the peace process despite enormous challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Guterres further called on the two holdout groups to join the peace process.
“Now it is critical that this agreement translates into tangible improvement in people’s lives. As we look ahead, we know that achieving an inclusive comprehensive and countrywide peace requires having all parties at the table,” Guterres said. “I call on the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement north-on Abdulaziz al-Hilu to fully engage in negotiations, embracing the opportunity presented by the recent signing of principles alongside Prime Minister Hamdok in Addis Ababa. I also call on the Sudan Liberation Army of Abdul Wahi al-Nur to immediately join the peace process,” he added.
Guterres further noted that ensuring successful implementation of the deal will require “sustained commitment and collaboration of all parties”.
Alhadi Idris, head of Sudanese Revolutionary Front said the deal will enable refugees and internally displaced persons to return their homes.
“We will end wars in Sudan and that would mean regional and international peace and I would like to inform the Sudanese women and youth that this peace is for all of you – it is the beginning of a new life in Sudan,” said Idris. This agreement will focus on democracy, economy and livelihoods.
The agreement comes after over a year of negotiations hosted by South Sudan President Salva Kiir, in efforts to help his foe comrades in restoration of peace and stability. The Juba peace deal has a special meaning for the people of Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Niles who have been displaced by the country’s bloody 17 – year conflict.