Peace agreement on Sudan’s northern track
The Sudanese government and the Sudanese Revolutionary Front rebel alliance signed a final peace agreement on the northern track in Juba yesterday. It deals with new studies for proposed dams in the Nile, compensation for people displaced for dams already built, the construction of new roads, and the burial of electronic and nuclear waste in Northern State.
The agreement was signed by Lt Gen Shamseldin Kabashi, member of the Sovereign Council, Dahab Ibrahim, chief negotiator of the Kush Movement, and the South Sudanese mediator Tut Galuak.
One of the main topics of the agreement is land that have been or could be affected by dams in the Nile.
It has been agreed to form a committee that will study the request to cancel the construction of the Dal, Kajbar and El Shireig Dams, and the completion of the Abu Hamad electricity project. Villagers displaced for the Merowe Dam, completed in 2009, must be compensated.
These (proposed) dams in the Nile are highly controversial. In 2007 four demonstrators that peacefully protested the Kajbar dam were killed.
The Merowe Dam doubled Sudan’s electricity generation, but displaced more than 50,000 people from the Nile Valley to arid desert locations. Protests were violently suppressed.
The planned Kajbar Dam on the Nile’s third cataract will create a reservoir of 110 square km, and generate 360 megawatts of electricity. The project is expected to displace more than 10,000 people and submerge the fertile lands they now work on. It will also submerge an estimated 500 archaeological sites. The Dal Dam on the second cataract would have a capacity of 340-450 megawatts, and would displace between 5,000 and 10,000 people.
A tripartite committee will be formed to study economic and development proposals in north Sudan, after conducting the necessary studies. Agricultural projects will be set up and electrified, nomads will be resettled by setting up agricultural and housing projects, and service facilities.
The agreement includes a commitment from the government to conduct feasibility studies to complete the second track of the El Tahaddi Road, Shiryan El Shamal Road, and the Western Nile Road. New roads will be build, most notably Abu Hamad-Karima-El Manasir Road, El Dubba-El Fasher Road and Halfa-Damar Road.
Conditions and infrastructure will be set up for the return of forcibly displaced people from Wadi Halfa to their areas around Lake Nuba. They will be granted an agricultural and a residential plot.
It has also been agreed to set up a specialised technical committee to investigate the deposition of electronic and nuclear waste in the Nile and the burial of such waste in the Northern State. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and local communities will be involved.
‘An advanced step’
Mohamed El Taayshi, member of the Sovereign Council and spokesperson for the government delegation at the Juba negotiations, considers the agreement “an advanced step towards reaching a comprehensive peace agreement”. He stressed the importance of the issues in northern Sudan in the peace process.
He said that one of the priorities of the current government is to listen to all the grievances in Sudan and, through this, reach a comprehensive peace without resorting to working with quotas.
Tut Galuak, head of the mediation team, expressed his happiness at reaching this agreement. He congratulated both the Sudanese Revolutionary Front and the government.
He said that the negotiations will continue on the tracks of Darfur, eastern Sudan and the SPLM-North faction led by Abdelaziz El Hilu when the government delegation returns on February 4.
Mohamed Sid Ahmed El Jakoumy, head of the northern delegation, said that the north is one of the most marginalised areas of Sudan. He expressed his happiness that an agreement has been reached that addresses the grievances of the people of northern Sudan.
Mohamed Daoud, head of Kush Movement, confirmed that signing the final peace agreement took place after long negotiations, “not because of differences but for the purpose of scrutiny”.
He thanked the negotiating government delegation and the head of the Sudanese Revolutionary Front. He considers the agreement as the beginning of an end to all regional problems in Sudan.
The mediation team announced on Sunday the suspension of the negotiations between the government and armed rebel movements of Darfur, South Kordofan, and the Blue Nile until February 4, so that all delegations have time to consult with their colleagues and followers.
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