Darfur expert: Sudan peace accord ‘a symbolic victory’

Preparations have begun for the final signing of the comprehensive peace agreement by the Sudanese government and the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) rebel alliance, in Juba on October 3. According to a Darfur law expert the peace accord contains a set of risks.

The peace agreement, mediated by South Sudan, was signed in initials on August 31. The date for the final signing ceremony was initially set on September 2.

The Sudanese High Peace Council announced that two advance delegations from Juba will arrive in Khartoum on Tuesday (today). They will complete their arrival on Thursday.

In its meeting yesterday, the council set the basis for the start of the implementation of the peace agreement and the receival of the two delegations from South Sudan.

SPLM-N El Hilu

The council said in a statement after the meeting that they also welcomed the “courageous initiative” of Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok to break the stalemate of the peace talks with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North faction under the leadership of Abdelaziz El Hilu (SPLM-N El Hilu), in Addis Ababa earlier this month.

The agreements signed by Hamdok and El Hilu on September 3 and 4 are fully supported by the council. Therefore, it affirmed the government’s readiness to send a negotiating delegation directly to Juba, to resume negotiations with the SPLM-N El Hilu and “reach solutions to the contentious issues.”

The SPLM-N El Hilu, operating in the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan and parts of Blue Nile state, entered the peace negotiations in Juba last year separately. Its long-standing position is to establish a viable secular Sudan that prevents imposing laws on a religious basis, and the right to self-determination for the southern region.

Last month, the rebel group withdrew from the talks in Juba in protest of the chairmanship of the government delegation by the commander-in-chief of the Rapid Support Forces militia. The rebels accuse the paramilitary forces of committing “heinous crimes” against civilians in various parts of Sudan.

French support

The President of the Sovereign Council, Lt Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan received the Ambassador of France Emmanuel Platman at his office in the Republican Palace on Monday.

The French ambassador renewed her country’s commitment to work to persuade the two holdout rebel groups, the SPLM-N El Hilu, and the Darfuri mainstream Sudan Liberation Movement headed by Abdelwahid El Nur to join the peace process.

She said that Paris will support the transitional government and stands by the Sudanese people “going through these exceptional circumstances”.

The French ambassador further said that her meeting with El Burhan dealt in particular with the new UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) in the beginning of next year.

Khartoum requested the UN Security Council at the beginning of this year to establish a Special Political Mission/Peace Support Operation to assist Sudan in its transition towards democratic governance and provide support for the peace process.

Risks

The Juba peace agreement was widely welcomed, in particular by the international community. The reactions in Sudan were more mixed. In Central Darfur, displaced people even staged demonstrations in protest against the accord, saying that all agreements on Darfur that have been signed so far all come down to “trading the rights of the displaced”.

‘The real test is the implementation of the peace agreement, which depends on the political will of the signatories.’ – International Law expert Ahmed Adam

Ahmed Adam, a Darfuri specialist in international law and conflict resolution, said the new agreement differs from the deals made in Abuja in 2006 and in Doha in 2011, because “the Juba accord was signed by new government players after the success of the December revolution and fundamental changes that happened in the regional and international situation”.

In an interview with Radio Dabanga on Monday, Adam said that the peace agreement contains a number of risks, “the most important of which are the absence of regional and international guarantees and the lack of donors and financiers, in addition to the fact that the two main rebel groups have not signed the peace agreement yet, the continuing insecurity in Darfur and the position of the displaced and refugees.

“New wars may erupt in the event the implementation of the peace accord fails due to the absence of funds,” he warned.

The jurist wonders about the ability of the signatories “to market the agreement among the war victims, displaced and refugees, and other stakeholders who should benefit from the peace agreement [..] in light of the continuing violence and the proliferation of arms.

“And how can the compensation to the war victims in Darfur be handled well, and how can the many displaced return to their place of origin when gunmen are still wreaking havoc in the region,” he asked. “Why do the attacks on people in Darfur continue, while the regime of Omar Al Bashir was ousted in April last year? This matter opens the door wide for many questions.”

Military

Adam further expects that the stipulations in the peace agreement concerning the restructuring of the military may not be implemented. “There are doubts about the military’s commitment to the nation” as “influential circles” are opposed to it. “Peace is not a priority for certain parties in the transitional government,” he noted.

He also criticised the formulations concerning the extradition of those indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague are no clear enough. “There should be an explicit provision on the extradition of the wanted persons as it is key to the reassurance of the victims. It will send positive messages to the Sudanese confirming that things have changed in the country.”

Though the expert welcomed the provisions of the Juba Peace Agreement on security arrangements, institutional reform, regional governance, transitional justice, and non-impunity for all, he calls the accord “a symbolic victory. The real test is the implementation of the peace agreement – which depends on the political will of the signatories.”

Yet, he warned of “the dire consequences of any crack that occurs in the Sudan Revolutionary Front which may lead to the failure of the peace agreement”, and called on “all living forces to stand in one front for the sake of peace”.

Source: Radio Dabanga