Jeddah agreement welcomed but also met with scepticism in Sudan
KHARTOUM / JEDDAH –
Sudan’s mainstream Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC-Central Council) has welcomed the agreement between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) to allow safe escape routes and passage of humanitarian aid in the country. Yet optimism over the declaration of principles, signed in the Saudi city of Jeddah yesterday, is tinged with caution as the warring parties did not agree on a cessation of hostilities. Others expressed sheer scepticism.
The FFC-CC welcomed the Jeddah declaration to protect civilians in the country. In a statement this morning, the alliance said it considers the agreement “an important first step towards ending the war that has been going on in the country since April 15” and urged the two parties to “strictly and seriously adhere to what has been agreed upon”.
The FFC-CC thanked the friends of the Sudanese, in particular Saudi Arabia and the USA, “for their role and efforts in brokering the negotiations between the two parties”.
The alliance of pro-democratic parties further stated that it looks forward to “a comprehensive, permanent and final cessation [of hostilities]”, the fulfilment of “the aspirations of the Sudanese people regarding a civil democratic transition”, including “security and military reform that leads to a single professional and national army committed to its constitutional duties and being subject to civilian governing bodies”.
Osama Saeed, the spokesperson for the Sudan Revolutionary Front alliance of rebel signatories of the 2020 Juba Peace Agreement, told Al Araby Al Jadeed that the Jeddah Declaration “serves as a basic basis for launching dialogue on issues of permanent ceasefire and monitoring mechanisms, and all dispute resolution talks that start from that point”.
He expressed his optimism that the signing would lead to an end to the war, “if there is a will on both sides”.
Kholood Khair, broadcaster and founding Director of Confluence Advisory, a think-and-do-tank in Khartoum, is much less optimistic. “Anyone watching Saudi news channels would think that the Declaration of Commitment (or Humanitarian Declaration in Arabic) signed between SAF and the RSF were the Treaty of Versailles. It is not,” she tweeted after the signing ceremony in Jeddah.
It’s another document signed to legitimise the signatories as well as the (thus far unsuccessful) approach of the mediators. No announcement has been made by SAF, the RSF, the Sovereignty Council, nor even the hapless SUNA. So, we must ask, to what extent do the sides even own it?”– Kholood Khair
“It is not a truce nor a ceasefire. It does not mention accountability for the past 27 days of mayhem and murder. Neither does it have monitoring or observation mechanisms built-in. Neither can it be implemented when both SAF and RSF have glaring command and control issues. Neither does it mention Darfur, though Khartoum is mentioned,” she stated.
“So, what is it? It’s another document signed to legitimise the signatories as well as the (thus far unsuccessful) approach of the mediators. No announcement has been made by SAF, the RSF, the Sovereignty Council, nor even the hapless SUNA. So, we must ask, to what extent do the sides even own it?”
Journalist Dalia Eltaher warned for more extensive fighting in a tweet this early morning. “The reference [in the agreement] to emptying Khartoum of its inhabitants predicts more news of increased frequent and violent clashes in the coming days.”
The Darfur Bar Association (DBA) reacted this morning by saying that “instead of proposing binding measures that force the two parties to stop the war, the Jeddah Agreement provides for securing safe passages by evacuating homes and facilities, which implicitly means a continuation of the fighting while the fate of further negotiations remains unknown”.
The AU-IGAD-UN Trilateral Mechanism that has been brokering negotiations between Sudan’s military junta and a number of civilian opposition parties under the umbrella of the FFC-CC since last year, welcomed the Jeddah Declaration in a press statement yesterday evening.
The parties must convey clear and unequivocal instructions to lower ranks to abide by the Declaration of Commitments and facilitate the safe passage of humanitarian assistance.– Trilateral Mechanism
The Mechanism also seems to doubt the ability of both warring parties to control their forces, as it urged “the parties to immediately exert all effort to translate these commitments to meaningful action on the ground. To that end, the parties must convey clear and unequivocal instructions to lower ranks to abide by the Declaration of Commitments and facilitate the safe passage of humanitarian assistance, the restoration of essential services, the withdrawal of forces from hospitals and clinics, and the respectful burial of the dead”.
The Trilateral Mechanism further called on the parties “to continue engaging with the process constructively and in good faith in order to build on what has been achieved and ultimately reach a permanent cessation of hostilities with a robust monitoring and verification mechanism”.