On September 26th, after almost a full year of negotiations, the transitional government of Sudan signed a peace agreement with the country’s main rebel alliance: the SRF (Sudan Revolutionary Front). The agreement was signed in Juba, the capital of neighbouring South Sudan, where notable attendees (among others) included Sudan’s Sovereign Council, Abdel-Fattah al-Burhan, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, and South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit. The agreement reflects a longstanding commitment made by the transitional government to put to halt the 17-years of violent conflict taking place within the Sudanese regions of Darfur, South Kordofan, and the Blue Nile, which has largely prevented the country from reaching any sustained resemblance of peace or prosperity.
While Sudan has been the site of domestic conflict on a recurring (and perpetual) basis since her independence in 1956, the origin of the conflict [relating most directly] to September’s agreement dates back to 2003, when two rebel movements took up arms against the Islamic government led by authoritarian ruler President Omar Al Bashir. In response to the war waged against them, the government’s armed forces carried out vicious attacks that recklessly targeted and killed thousands of innocent civilians. Moreover, to suppress opposition, Government agencies during Bashir’s regime would routinely detain human rights defenders, student activists, and journalists.
Despite the grave under-documentation of this devastation, the United Nations have reported that the Darfur war has resulted in a death toll of at least 300,000, and 2.7 million who have been displaced from their homes. The country’s economic crisis has also meant minimal availability of local resources, resulting in a great struggle for refugee camp host communities to provide necessities for those in need. Apart from the war in Darfur, thousands more have died in Sudan’s regions of South Kordofan and the Blue Nile, where South Sudan’s independence sparked the beginning of a lengthy clash in 2011 between Bashir’s government forces and rebel factions. In these two regions, Human Rights organizations have accused Bashir of committing atrocities, including aerial bombardments, murdering civilians in their homes, and causing significant destruction to property and livestock.
Abdalla Hamdok, the head of Sudan’s current transitional government, has repeatedly expressed sincere determination to respond to citizen’s long-awaited pleas for concrete reform within the country. Through making compelling promises of peace and justice and introducing a variety of political and economic reforms, Hamdok has instilled strong feelings of hope among Sudan’s citizenry. Of these efforts, his relentless pursuit of initiating the signing of September’s peace agreement is perhaps the most remarkable and momentous of his endeavours since coming into power. The agreement is described as addressing notable areas concerning issues relating to power-sharing, transitional justice, security, land ownership, and the returning of those who left their home because of war. The agreement also contains a framework for the dismantling of rebel forces and the integration of their members into the national army. South Sudan, Qatar, Chad, and the UAE were the signed guarantors of the deal, while Egypt, the UN, AU, and EU were the witnesses.
Notably, two Sudanese rebel groups (a faction of the Sudan Liberation Movement, and a wing of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North) have refused to take part in the agreement. Sceptics point towards this—as well as the past failure of recent peace accords in areas like Nigeria and Qatar—in voicing their doubts about the ability of this agreement to materialize into a sustained peace in Sudan. On the other hand, however, many have faith in the words spoken by Prime Minister Hamdok and believe that the agreement shows promise for the country to be set on a path towards a peaceful and prosperous future. For example, Hamdok has addressed part of the concerns raised over the efficacy of the agreement in declaring his commitment to bringing on board those who have held out on the agreement. Another ground for optimism includes how Sudan is now in the process of being removed from the US list of states sponsoring terrorism- which will lift sanctions and encourage international investment.
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