Sudan rebels agree key peace deal

KHARTOUM (AFP) – Sudan’s main rebel alliance has agreed a peace deal with the government aimed at ending 17 years of conflict, official news agency SUNA said on Sunday.

The Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF), an alliance of rebel groups from the western region of Darfur and the southern states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, have inked a peace agreement with the government.

A formal signing ceremony was held yesterday in Juba, the capital of neighbouring South Sudan, which has hosted and helped mediate the long-running talks since late 2019.

Senior government officials and rebel leaders “signed their initials on protocols on security arrangements” and other issues late on Saturday, SUNA reported.

However, two key holdout rebel forces have refused to take part in the deal.

The final agreement covers key issues around security, land ownership, transitional justice, power sharing, and the return of people who fled their homes due to war.

It also provides for the dismantling of rebel forces and the integration of their fighters into the national army.

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and several ministers flew to Juba on Sunday, the news agency said, where he met with South Sudan President Salva Kiir.

Hamdok said that finding a deal had taken longer than first hoped after an initial agreement in September 2019.

“At the Juba declaration in September, everyone expected peace to be signed within two or three months, but …we realised that the questions were of one great complexity,” Hamdok said.

“However, we were able to accomplish this great work, and this is the start of peace-building.”

The rebel forces took up arms against what they said was the economic and political marginalisation by the government in Khartoum.

They are largely drawn from non-Arab minority groups that long railed against Arab domination of successive governments in Khartoum, including that of toppled autocrat Omar al-Bashir.