Eastern Sudan nazirs blame peace track for violent clashes

In a statement yesterday, the High Council of Beja Nazirs and Independent Chieftains stated that the eastern Sudan track accord has ignited violence and discord, and caused the recent rift in the social fabric in eastern Sudan.

In a statement yesterday, the High Council of Beja Nazirs* and Independent Chieftains stated that the eastern Sudan track accord has ignited violence and discord, and caused the recent rifts in the social fabric in eastern Sudan.

The eastern Sudan track was finalised in February during the peace negotiations between Khartoum and the Sudan Revolutionary Front rebel alliance in Juba.

The signing of the comprehensive peace agreement in Juba yesterday, which includes the eastern Sudan protocol, “will only increase the crisis and will not bring peace”, according to the Council.

The Council reaffirmed its categorical rejection of the eastern Sudan track accord and of the recommendations of this agreement.

Recent clashes

The statement said that negative repercussions of the agreement “are visible in the form of fighting and increased tribal alignment” since February in all three states of eastern Sudan.

Tribal fighting broke out in Kassala town on Tuesday 25 August, when members of the Hadendawa clan attacked a group of Beni Amer, who organised a march in the town in support of their fellow tribesman Saleh Ammar, the newly appointed governor of Kassala. One person was killed and at least 18 others were injured.

The next day, thousands of people ignored the curfew and took to the streets, demanding the speedy arrival of Governor Ammar to the state. Clashes broke out again and another man was killed. According to several witnesses, the security forces reacted late to the fighting.

The fighting continued the next day. Four people were killed and dozens of others were wounded. Hundreds of people armed with knives and sticks plundered the Kassala Grand Market and set fire to a large number of shops.

However, violence also shook Port Sudan last year between Beni Amer and Hadendawa tribesmen, before the finalisation of the peace agreement.

According to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, recent clashes in Kassala and Port Sudan are examples of “an increasing number of events involving violence being initiated by members of the peripheral group who are often subject to abuses by the more dominant, government-aligned group of the semi-periphery… this has tended to be followed by disproportionate reprisal attacks from the dominant group, often leading to dozens of deaths in lopsided fighting or massacres.”

The monitoring project noted that clashes are driven, in part, by “mounting anxieties about the losers and beneficiaries of the upheaval in Sudan, which are typically refracted through ethnic lenses. These are the by-products of decades of war and manipulation emanating from the core of the country.”

International interests

According to the statement, the track agreement places eastern Sudan in the hands of regional and international actors in search of resources to exploit in the Red Sea basin. The agreements in the track will bring about “a major demographic change in the region, which will threaten Sudan’s sovereignty and national security.”

At the same time, the statement called on political parties and honourable national forces to oppose the contents of the eastern Sudan track accord by all means and unify the efforts of the home front to stop compromises being made “at the expense of the homeland” by leaders of “the foreign agenda”.

The rejection comes as no surprise, as the agreement was already strongly criticised in February. At the time, Abdallah Mousa, Chairman of the Beja Congress-Freedom and Change faction told Radio Dabanga that “an inclusive conference for the people of eastern Sudan, with the participation of all components of eastern Sudan, eastern Sudanese universities, and the University of Khartoum, to discuss the issues of the region, and present recommendations for the development of the marginalised region” was needed.

Last month, the participants of the Peace, Development and Justice Conference, organised by the Council and Independent Chieftains in Sinkat in Red Sea state, demanded the right to self-determination for the region. Lt Gen Mohamed Hamdan ‘Hemeti’, Vice President of the Sovereign Council, attended the final day of the conference.

* A nazir is a state-appointed administrative chief of a tribe, according to the Native Administration system in Sudan.

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