Peace accord in Sudan

Al-Ahram Weekly Editorial
Wednesday 2 Sep 2020

Sudan’s transitional government and the revolutionary front initialled on Monday a peace accord in Juba, the capital of South Sudan. The move has put an end to 17 years of civil war and conflicts that have torn the country since the 1950s.

Sudan’s Revolutionary Front comprises four armed movements that have been fighting in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states in the south, and in Darfur, in the west. The movements in Darfur include Sudan’s Liberation Army, spearheaded by Arko Minnawi, and the Justice and Equality Movement, led by Jibril Ibrahim, brother of founder Khalil Ibrahim, a former minister in Al-Bashir’s government.

The two parties that initialled the agreement have resolved issues pertaining to power division, security arrangements, compensations to the families of the victims of war, among other key issues.

The accord grants autonomous rule to the Blue Nile and South Kordofan. Revenues and resources of the two states shall be divided between the federal authority, which will receive 60 per cent, and local authorities, that will be given 40 per cent. 

According to the agreement, Sudan’s Revolutionary Front shall be allocated 25 per cent of cabinet and parliamentary seats and three seats in the sovereign council. The country’s transitional period will be extended for 39 months starting 1 September, as per the accord, during which time the armed movements’ forces should be disbanded and legally re-integrated as part of several security arrangements. 

Sudan’s transitional period was slated for 39 months starting in the second half of 2019, a few months after a popular revolution toppled the Omar Al-Bashir regime in April. 

The pact follows 10 months of negotiations in Juba. Absent from the accord, however, were the Sudan Liberation Army, led by Abdel-Wahed Mohamed Nour, that controls strategic locations in Darfur’s Marrah Mountains, and a faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, headed by Abdel-Aziz Al-Helw, whose forces are engaged in South Kordofan conflicts. 

For over a year now, Sudan’s transitional government has been prioritising negotiations with rebel forces to seal peace deals in regions wretched by conflicts since Al-Bashir’s rule. Monday’s pact is a vital accomplishment for a government that is strenuously trying to revivify the economy and redraw foreign relations severely damaged under Al-Bashir.

The success of the new pact is a challenge, particularly after previous peace deals had crumbled, such as the Darfur Peace Agreement, sealed in Abuja in 2006.

Comprehensive peace in Sudan is the priority of Abdalla Hamdok’s government, which focuses on resuming peace negotiations in the nearest time possible with the Sudan’s People’s Liberation Movement-North and the Sudan Liberation Movement. The government’s reform programme strongly depends on spreading peace across the corners of Sudan.

Abdalla’s government is hoping once comprehensive peace is reached in Sudan the refugees and the displaced will go back to their villages and construction and development operations will kick-start in Darfur and war-torn regions.

Peacemaking is difficult, albeit not as much as peacebuilding, which requires a political will. The Sudan government will not be able to spread peace without tangible support from the international community, especially influential countries and international financial institutions.

Regional powers, including Egypt and the Gulf, have supported the new accord that shall contribute to Sudan’s stability and help Khartoum focus on pressing issues, foremost among which is the plummeting economy, and launch local development programmes, the absence of which has resulted in the lack of peace and stability for decades.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 3 September, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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