Sudan: A landmark pact that could elude peace - GulfToday

A landmark Sudan pact will foster peace

The photo has been used for illustrative purposes.

The long-awaited euphoria finally burst on the streets of Sudan on Saturday as the country signed a landmark peace deal aimed at ending decades of war. There was singing and dancing as Sudan’s government and rebel leaders prepared to ink the deal.

Entertainers from South Sudan and Sudan performed as guests waited for proceedings to begin, while members of the rebel groups from Darfur, South Kordofan and the Blue Nile marched, singing songs of joy and carrying banners bearing the images of their party leaders.

Sudan’s transitional authorities and a rebel alliance signed on Saturday a peace deal initialled in August that aims to put an end to the country’s decades-long civil wars.

The UAE welcomed the signing of the agreement, appreciating the efforts of

President Salva Kiir Mayardit of the Republic of South Sudan and all parties that contributed to this historic achievement.

Ever since it gained independence in 1956, several civil wars have raged on in Sudan, including the 1983-2005 war that led to the secession of the south.

The devastating war in Darfur from 2003 left at least 300,000 people dead and 2.5 million displaced in its early years.

Saturday’s official signing in Juba sealed the peace deal reached in late August between the Sudanese government and the Sudan Revolutionary Front, a coalition of several armed groups.

The summit was attended by South Sudan President Salva Kiir, whose own country gained independence from Sudan in 2011 following decades of conflict.

The Sudan Revolutionary Front, centred in the western Darfur region, South Kordofan and Blue Nile, is part of the pro-democracy movement that led to the uprising against al-Bashir.

The deal would grant self-rule for the southern provinces of Blue Nile, South Kordofan and West Kordofan. Rebel forces would be integrated into Sudan’s armed forces.

“The next biggest challenge is to work with all local and international partners to preach the agreement and its benefits,” Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok tweeted on Friday upon his arrival at Juba, the capital of South Sudan.

Reaching a negotiated settlement with rebels in Sudan’s far-flung provinces has been a crucial goal for the transitional government, which assumed power after a popular uprising led the military to overthrow President Omar al-Bashir in April 2019.

“This signing of this agreement… is a significant day… for Sudan and South Sudan... it means an end to suffering of many Sudanese people in different corners of Sudan and outside Sudan,” said Mini Arko Minawi, leader of the Sudan Liberation Movement which is one of the parties to the deal.

Though there has been opposition to the accord from some quarters — the Sudanese communist party has denounced the deal as a “true threat to Sudan’s integrity and future” — the move has rekindled hope among quite a few.

Ending Sudan’s internal conflicts has been a top priority of the transition government in power since last year’s ouster of longtime leader Omar al-Bashir amid a popular pro-democracy uprising.

The peace talks were mediated by South Sudan whose leaders themselves battled Khartoum as rebels for decades before achieving independence in 2011.

Economic hardship is a rankling issue, especially after the 2011 secession of South Sudan which deprived the north of three-quarters of its oil reserves.

Sudanese civilian leaders hope the deal will allow them to revive the country’s battered economy by slashing military spending, which takes up much of the national budget.

However, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok concedes that the future will not be easy. “The peace building process faces various challenges and pitfalls that we can overcome through concerted efforts and joint action.”

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