Doubts about time and process of Sudan peace conference

People fleeing attacks on the Kerending camps for the displaced, El Geneina, West Darfur, January 2021 (Social media)


(updated January 30)

The review of the Juba Peace Agreement scheduled to take place on Tuesday may be delayed, says Malik Agar, member of the Sovereignty Council and head of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-Revolutionary Front faction in the Blue Nile region. People in Darfur and South Kordofan doubt about the success of the new peace conference. The South Sudanese mediation team of the Juba Peace Agreement (JPA) has planned a workshop on the implementation of the agreement for the 13 signatories in the South Sudanese capital in February.

The contents and implementation schedule of the JPA are first to be discussed in a dialogue conference, organised by the AU-IGAD-UNITAMS Trilateral Mechanism in Khartoum on Tuesday. About 400 people, including displaced and other victims of armed conflicts in the country, will participate in the conference.

The review of the JPA, signed by the Sudanese government and members of the Sudan Revolutionary Front rebel alliance on October 3, 2020, is part of the political process the military junta and more than 40 political parties and civil society groups agreed upon in the Framework Agreement signed on December 5 last year.

Under the umbrella of the Forces of Freedom and Change-Central Council (FFC-CC), the civilian signatories of the Framework Agreement would organise dialogue conferences on five important but contentious issues to be agreed on. The outcomes of the conferences would be incorporated in a Final Agreement with the military, after which a civilian government of technocrats can be formed. This transitional government is to organise general elections after two years.

The first conference, on the empowerment removal process, concluded in Khartoum on January 12. As the four other issues appeared to be too complex for the FFC-CC alliance and affiliates to agree on, it was decided to postpone ‘military and security reform’ and ‘(transitional) justice’ until after the formation of the new transitional government. The Trilateral Mechanism brokering the dialogues would take over the organisation of the conferences on ‘the JPA’ and ‘eastern Sudan’.

Malik Agar told Radio Dabanga’s Sudan Today programme on Thursday that he rules out that the JPA conference will take place on January 31, “because the joint committee concerned with approving the submitted papers and identifying the participants has not been formed yet”.

He said that “the conference, if convened, will be incomplete due to the non-participation of a number of JPA signatories” and called for delaying the dialogue  “until the the hold-out groups have been persuaded to participate in the workshop”.

On the other hand, he played down the importance of the conference. “The Framework Agreement guidelines concerning the conference are limited to ensuring the implementation of the peace agreement and mobilising support for it.”

As for the Eastern Sudan protocol of the JPA, he said it was agreed that “the gains of the 2020 peace agreement will be preserved”.

Separate workshop

Agar further reported that the South Sudanese mediation team has invited all the 14 signatories to the JPA, including the government to a two-part workshop in Juba in February.

“The Juba workshop consists of two meetings. The first, for the mediators, is scheduled for 10 to 13 February, and the second, for the signatories, from 15 to 18 February,” he said. “The outcomes of the workshop will be announced in the presence of the presidents of the two countries.”

He explained that the South Sudanese mediation team is “the only body that can bring the peace parties together. The FFC alliance does not have the right to do so because it is not a government agency”. 


Khaled Omar, FFC-CC spokesperson for the current political process, said in a press statement in Khartoum on Thursday that the Trilateral Mechanism will officially invite the participants for the conferences on the JPA and on Eastern Sudan Governance in the coming days.

The dialogue on the JPA will start on Tuesday, he said. “The Trilateral Mechanism is working to complete the arrangements to ensure that the conference is carried out in the best way, to ensure comprehensiveness and to remove obstacles to the implementation of the peace agreement.”

The politician further reported “ongoing discussions with all the forces of the revolution, from civil society activists, members of resistance committees, and other pro-democracy groups, in order to find formulas for understanding the project proposed for the transition period”.


The opinions of people living in “areas of conflict” concerning the upcoming JPA conference are not unanimously positive.

Ishag Abdallah, Sheikh of Kalma camp in South Darfur, which is one of the largest camps for displaced people in Darfur, told Radio Dabanga that they have not consulted, “not for the peace conference nor for the Juba Peace Agreement”.

He said that he holds the organising parties responsible “for their narrow selection of the representatives of the Darfur displaced”, and renewed his rejection of the JPA, “because it has not brought us anything. The insecurity even increased after the signing”.

Sheikh Abdelrazeg from Central Darfur does not believe that “this useless peace conference will bring about useful outcomes”, like “the JPA Juba, which is just ink on paper, did not stop the violence”.

Nadya and Husniya, displaced women activists in West and Central Darfur respectively, also pointed to the continuation of insecurity after the agreement. “The JPA does not represent the displaced,” Nadya said. “Therefore, we are not concerned with its review.”

The head of the Manawashi camps in South Darfur, Sheikh Hammad, said that they did not hear about the holding of the conference “except through news from Radio Dabanga”.

Sheikh Mahjoub Tabaldiya, head of the El Salam camp in South Darfur told Radio Dabanga that he is ready to attend the workshop when he receives an invitation. He called on the displaced “to participate in the conference so their concerns will be heard”.

Displaced community leaders in Darfur told Radio Dabanga in October 2021, one year after the signing of the JPA, that “not even one per cent of the agreement has been implemented so far.”

People in South Kordofan are critical as well. “The entire political process is exclusive and elitist,” El Deret Ismail told Radio Dabanga. She called for the participation of “much more Sudanese people from all levels of society in the political and peace processes”.

Ibrahim Ismail pointed to the deteriorating security situation in South Kordofan, Blue Nile region, and Darfur. “Such conferences do not fulfil the aspirations of the people living in areas of conflict,” he said. “Peace can only be achieved by collective will.”

Women activist Entisar Adam agreed. “In most cases, workshops on peace do not serve peace issues at all. When the roots of the problems of Sudan are not addressed, logical solutions will never be found,” she argued. “We need to learn to accept each other to achieve a real and sustainable peace.”

Hold-out groups

Ahmed Jedda, member of the FFC-DB alliance, founded by rebel movements that signed the JPA and the mainstream Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), in early November last year, told Radio Dabanga that the members, including the eastern Sudanese High Beja Council wing chaired by Sayed Tirik, “unanimously decided” to boycott the conferences on the JPA and eastern Sudan in Khartoum.

“If they want to organise productive dialogues, they should go to Darfur, South Kordofan, Blue Nile region, and eastern Sudan, and sit with the people there,” he said.

He repeated what Jibril Ibrahim, leader of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), and Minni Minawi, head of a split-off faction of the Sudan Liberation Movement, earlier stated: “A review of the JPA means changing the agreement, and it is not allowed to change even one letter in the agreement unless all stakeholders are involved”.