AFRICA: Sudan government, rebel Groups sign landmark deal

Lieutenant General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo signed the document on behalf of the Sudanese government [Akuot Chol/AFP]

AGENCIES | Aljazeera | Khartoum – Sudan’s transitional government and several rebel groups have signed a peace agreement aimed at resolving years of war in which hundreds of thousands of people died and millions displaced in different regions across the country.

Cheers rang out as representatives from the government and a coalition of armed groups called the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) signed the deal on Saturday, a year after the peace talks began, at a ceremony in Juba, the capital of neighbouring South Sudan.

Guarantors of the deal from Chad, Qatar, Egypt, the African Union, European Union and United Nations also put their names to the agreement.

“Today we have reached a peace agreement. We are happy. We have finished the mission,” Tut Gatluak, head of the South Sudanese mediating team said, shortly before the signing of the deal that happened a year after the peace talks began.

Entertainers from South Sudan and Sudan performed for the guests, while members of the rebel groups from Darfur, South Kordofan and the Blue Nile marched, singing songs of joy and carrying banners bearing the images of their party leaders.

Rebels leaders gesture after the signing of the peace agreement [Samir Bol/Reuters]

However, two powerful rebel groups – the Darfur-based Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) faction led by Abdelwahid Mohamed al-Nour and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) led by Abdelaziz al-Hilu did not sign, reflecting the challenges still facing the peace process.

Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan, reporting from Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, said that while the document signed in Juba has been called “the final agreement”, the absence of the two key groups means that the deal was incomplete.

Jonas Horner, a senior Sudan analyst at the International Crisis Group think-tank, told Al Jazeera the SLM and SPLM-N “are the only armed groups in Sudan with meaningful military capacity and who represent significant constituencies”.

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Last month, al-Hilu struck a separate deal with the government, agreeing to a truce until Sudan’s constitution is changed to separate religion and government.

Al-Hilu has called for a secular state with no role for religion in lawmaking, the disbanding of former President Omar al-Bashir’s militias and the revamping of the country’s military. The group has said if its demands are not met, it would call for self-determination in areas it controls in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan provinces.

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