Songs and shouts of joy at the signing of a historic peace accord in Sudan

The Sudanese government and rebel groups on Saturday signed in Juba, to the sound of drums and the rhythm of traditional dances, a historic peace accord, which must end 17 years of deadly war.

Cries of joy greeted each of the representatives of the Sudanese transitional government and the rebels who had come to sign with great pomp, one after another, a text initialed on August 31, an AFP journalist said.

“Today we have reached a peace agreement. We are happy. We have accomplished our mission, ”said South Sudanese Tutkew Gatluak, one of the mediators, shortly before the signing.

The ceremony took place in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, a country whose rulers fought for around three decades those of Khartoum before gaining independence in 2011 after a war that left two million dead and four million displaced people. Today, their relationship is peaceful and even friendly.

Dancers, singers and musicians set the tone for the celebrations, while members of rebel groups from Darfur (west), South Kordofan (south) and Blue Nile (south) marched in the morning, holding up signs in the effigy of their leaders.

The authorities in Khartoum, a hybrid power of military and civilians in place after a popular revolt that ended 30 years of Omar al-Bashir’s dictatorship in April 2019, have made peace with the rebels their priority.

Sudanese Vice President Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, a paramilitary militia commander in Darfur best known by the nickname Hemeti, signed the agreement on behalf of Khartoum.

“Challenges” to overcome

He was surrounded by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhane, President of the Sovereign Council, and Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok.

The latter hoped that peace will allow “development, progress and prosperity,” in a statement released on Saturday. “The peace process faces challenges that we must overcome through common action,” he added.

On the insurgent side, the agreement was signed by the Revolutionary Front of Sudan (FRS), an alliance of five rebel groups and four political movements, from the regions of Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile and seeking to develop their regions. disaster victims.

The leader of Darfur’s main rebel group, the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM), a signatory to the accords, also spoke of challenges. “The economic situation in Sudan and the fragility of the political situation are obviously challenges, but I am convinced that we can achieve peace,” said Mini Arko Minawi.

Mediators and diplomats from Chad, Qatari, Egypt, the African Union, the European Union and the United Nations also initialed the text.

“This signing will really allow us to put the war behind us. It will bring democracy, justice, freedom to Sudan. We are very happy. The war is over and Sudan’s economy will get back on its feet, ”SLM official Ismail Jalab told AFP.

But the economic situation in Sudan is dire, with annual inflation of 170 percent in August, coupled with shortages of fuel, food, medicine and hygiene products. Food prices have tripled in a year, according to the UN.

Integration of rebels into the army

Under the Bashir regime, ethnic minority rebels saw themselves as marginalized in a country facing a severe economic crisis, including having been cut off by three quarters of its oil reserves since South Sudan’s independence. Without forgetting the American sanctions.

The agreement is made up of eight protocols: land ownership, transitional justice, reparations and compensation, development of the nomadic and pastoral sector, sharing of wealth, sharing of power and return of refugees and displaced persons.

It also stipulates the eventual dismantling of armed groups and the integration of combatants into the army, which should be representative of all components of society.

The war in Darfur that began in 2003 left at least 300,000 dead and 2.5 million displaced in the first few years, according to the UN. In the other two regions, the war affected a million people.

The Sudan Liberation Movement (MLS), a branch of Abdelwahid Nour in Darfur, refused to sign. The army accuses him of launching another attack on his positions on Monday.

Another group, Abdelaziz al-Hilu’s SPLA-North, signed a separate ceasefire, which allows rebels to keep their weapons “for their own protection” until the Sudanese constitution is amended. to guarantee the separation of state and religion.

South Kordofan and to a lesser extent the Blue Nile are home to Christian minorities who for decades fought Khartoum’s attempts to impose Islamic law.

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