The Sudanese government has extended a major ceasefire agreement with the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) which may mark the beginning of the end for fighting that has ravaged the impoverished Sudanese people since 1983. The treaty, initially signed early September, aimed at creating a diplomatic path for the integration of the rebels into the government through collaboration. The United States’ assisted Juba agreement sets out a roadmap with specific working groups focused on solving issues like internally displaced persons and the governorships of Sudan’s various provinces. The SRF has primarily engaged conflict for the governance and resources of the Blue Nile and Darfur provinces from the Sudanese government’s Janjaweed militia since 2003.
The Juba Declaration, first signed in September of 2019, has been widely praised as an important step forward by a new Sudanese government and the coalition of farmers and other rebels forming the Sudan Revolutionary Front. The declarations have centered around ending the decades-old conflict that has, according to the Ohio State and Miami universities, lead to well over 480,000 deaths and over 2.8 million people displaced. The United Nations has called the conflict “the world’s worst humanitarian crisis” and to date, the conflict has held the dubious award of being Africa’s longest-running Civil-war.
The majority of these deaths can be attributed to the impoverished nature of the Darfur and Blue Nile and the neglect of Omar al Bashir in establishing basic infrastructure. This mismanagement along with existing tribal tensions have left Darfur and Blue Nile with some of the highest infant mortality rates and lowest education levels in Sudan and caused widespread poverty and internal displacement. This is fundamentally different from the 20 years long sectarian Sudanese civil war between the Christian south and the Muslim north which lead to millions dead.
The agreement was established on the principle of multiple working groups of experts and rebel leaders from the Sudanese government, Sudan Revolutionary Front, and the United States government, to examine the varying issues of conflict in the regions based on the consultative form of governance which is engrained in Sudanese political culture. Originally intended to last only 2 months the declaration and the work that it enables have been extended until February of 2020. This is a welcome step as it means that there exists a hope of real change on both sides and a willingness to work through issues instead of letting the treaty fail as the UN lead 2006 Darfur peace agreement did. The 2006 peace process likely failed due to the agreement being the first to take place after the overthrow of Omar al Bashir’s thirty-year rule thus allowing further room for negotiations in establishing fair and just governance of the region. The Defence Post also reported that the government had been open to a wide range of changes including self-governance of the provinces and the introduction of a secular state.
However, this is not a be all end all for the troubled nation as the peaceful Revolutionary Forces of Freedom and Change alliance that helped overthrow al Bashir is still at odds with the new government Given Lieutenant General Mohamed ‘Hemeti’ Hamdan’s high position in the interim government due to the FFC alleging ‘Hemeti’ who according to CNN has been linked to ordering the killing of hundreds of protesters in the Khartoum massacre of June 2019. These attacks have justifiably made the FFC wary of any work involving the current government and thus refused to be apart of the discussions, which has limited the effectiveness of the Juba Declaration in some areas but it is not believed to be crippling to future work by the signatories (defense post). If the two sides can forgive the past decade of violence and mistrust, they could drastically change the future of Sudan and end Africa’s longest-running civil war.