Eastern Sudanese peace accord severely criticised

The eastern Sudan peace agreement, signed a week ago, gives the people of the region multiple privileges, says the negotiator. According to a prominent Beja leader the accord is ‘worthless’.

Eastern Front troops, 2007 (Christopher Milner/Pulitzer Center)

The eastern Sudan peace agreement, signed by representatives of the Sudanese government and eastern Sudan opposition groups in Juba a week ago, gives the people of the region multiple privileges in the country’s administrative sector, says the negotiator. According to a prominent Beja leader the accord is ‘worthless’.

Abdallah Mousa, Chairman of the Beja Congress-Freedom and Change faction, declared his categorical rejection of the eastern Sudan agreement in an interview with Radio Dabanga on Wednesday.

“It is less than worthless and does not get any support in eastern Sudan. It is just a reproduction of the bilateral agreements signed during the era of the former regime, and that led to nothing productive,” he commented.

“The way the agreement was drafted looks more like a political press statement than a legal agreement. It lacks time schedules for the implementation as well as details about the extent of political participation of the signatories. The relationship of eastern Sudan with the centre is not described at all,” he commented.

“The text of this agreement has been copied from the Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement [ESPA – signed by the Sudanese government and the Eastern Front rebel alliance in 2006]. It was taken out of its context and distorted.”

Mousa called for “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”.

He also called for a classification of the most important issues. The urgent ones must be dealt with in the transitional phase (August 2019-end 2022).

“There was no reason to accelerate the signing of the eastern Sudan agreement, especially as the region is not witnessing wars nor has areas that need humanitarian aid.”

The ESPA has never been fully implemented. In May 2015, the Geneva-based Small Arms Survey (SAS) stated that the Eastern Sudan Reconstruction and Development Fund faced charges of corruption and the mismanagement of resources. The Fund seemed to have been systematically under-financed, while much of the funding has reportedly been allocated to national dam-building projects. In 2018, the head of the Beja Congress Party lamenetd that a number of issues agreed on in the ESPA were still not implemented.


Osama Saeed, Chairman of the eastern Sudan track negotiation team, however told Radio Dabanga that 14 per cent of the civil service positions will be allocated to eastern Sudanese, including senior leadership positions, post at diplomatic missions, and in the military service. 30 per cent of the eastern Sudan state government positions have been reserved for the signatories.

The agreement on the three eastern Sudanese states, Red Sea state, Kassala, and El Gedaref, signed in the South Sudan capital of Juba on February 21, also stipulates the establishment of a new reconstruction fund, with an initial contribution of $ 347 million, and an independent “house of expertise” to evaluate previous projects, and to hold corrupt managers accountable.

Saeed pointed out that the accord includes many gains for the eastern Sudanese concerning development, education, health, drinking water, electricity, and the extension of roads.

Demobilised opposition fighters will receive their dues, war-affected areas will be reconstructed, and those affected compensated, he added.


Saeed played down the criticism of the agreement text, explaining that time schedules for its implementation, eastern Sudanese representation at the national level, and administrative status issues will be discussed within the framework of the final, comprehensive peace agreement.

He said the eastern Sudanese track agreement was signed with guaranties of South Sudan, the Sudan Troika (US, UK, Norway), the African Union, the European Union, and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD eastern Africa trade block).

“The current accord is not a copy of the 2006 agreement. The eastern Sudan track agreement is based on new foundations. It tackles real issues and stipulates remedies for the political and economic marginalisation of the region.”

The negotiator expressed his respect for opponents of the agreement, and called on “everyone to participate in the comprehensive conference to be held in eastern Sudan in order to raise issues that were not included in the agreement.

“The signatories of the agreement do not claim a monopoly on the representation of eastern Sudan,” he emphasised.


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