JPA conference ‘to expand discussion base’ excludes Darfur leaders

Workshop on the Juba Peace Agreement organised by AU-IGAD-UNITAMS Trilateral Mechanism begins on January 31 (Photo: UNITAMS)


The conference on the Juba Peace Agreement (JPA), organised by the AU-IGAD-UNITAMS Trilateral Mechanism in coordination with the signatories to the Framework Agreement, was launched in the Friendship Hall in Khartoum yesterday afternoon. Darfur displaced reported to Radio Dabanga that their invites were cancelled at the last minute, meanwhile, some community leaders were not invited at all.

“The aim of this workshop is not to amend, cancel, or denounce the JPA but to focus on exploring drivers of conflict and ways to better implement and revitalise it while safeguarding its gains,” said Volker Perthes, UN Special Representative for Sudan and head of UNITAMS, at the launch ceremony.

Khaled Omar Yousef, the official spokesperson for the signatories to the Framework Agreement, told Radio Dabanga that the conference will discuss the obstacles to the implementation of the peace agreement since it was signed in October 2021, the causes for the repeated armed conflicts, and the roles of the native administration* and local communities in peacebuilding. The workshops will continue until Friday.

“The conference seeks to expand the base of discussion to consolidate what has been achieved in the peace agreement and how to complete it in order to reach a permanent and comprehensive solution, including agreements with hold-out parties.” 

Yousef explained that the participants will be divided into working groups on specific issues today, which will lead to recommendations to be incorporated into a final agreement with the military and turned into a roadmap for the upcoming civilian government. 

On the topic of the upcoming evaluation of the JPA in Juba, organised by the South Sudanese mediation team, the spokesperson said that “the coming days will bring more discussions between the Sudanese parties and the mediation team to reach an integration in order to achieve the common goal of the stability of Sudan and for the current political process to reach its goals.” 

Cancelled invites 

Displaced women leader Awatif Abdelrahman told Radio Dabanga that at the request of the Centre for Peace Studies in Nyala, they nominated three women to represent the South Darfur displaced women, but the invitation was cancelled a day before the launch of the conference. 

“UNITAMS informed the Centre for Peace Studies on Monday that the signatories of the Framework Agreement decided to limit the invitation to those who signed the JPA and the groups of displaced that signed the Framework Agreement.”

She explained that 25 seats at the JPA review conference are allocated to the displaced people of South Darfur, with two seats for representatives of each camp and three seats for women. “The displaced people who are now attending the conference are only representing themselves,” she said. 

Not invited 

Displaced community leaders in Darfur reported that they did not receive invitations to participate in the workshop. Yagoub Furi, head of the Darfur Displaced and Refugee Camps Coordination informed Radio Dabanga that the conference may fail due to not inviting the real stakeholders. He said they consider the lack of an invitation a belittling of their status. 

He strongly denounced the invitation of persons representing the Darfur displaced without displaced leaders being consulted. “Our views definitely need to be heard.” 

He stressed that the Darfur displaced have not been invited to join the Framework Agreement. “We have not been notified of its content, which also happened before, with the peace agreements of Abuja, Doha, and lately, of Juba.” 

Saleh Eisa, head of the Darfur Displaced and Refugee Camps Administration, also criticised the absence of the displaced from representation in the conference on the JPA. 

“We did not receive any invitation. The displaced who are now participating in the conference only represent themselves,” he said and accused the Forces for Freedom and Change-Central Council of neglecting displacement, violence, and genocide. “We are not on their list of priorities.” 

Boycott continues 

The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) repeated in a press statement that it will not participate in the JPA conference in Khartoum. 

JEM media secretary Mohamed Hasan Fadul, said that the movement rejects the contents of the Framework Agreement and stressed their non-participation in the activities resulting from it. 

“The conference will evaluate and amend the text of the JPA, which is a clear violation of the agreement.” 

He said that the Framework Agreement “gives parties not related to the JPA the right to rectify and amend it”, stressing that the agreement is binding. 

JEM leaders intend to travel to Cairo on Wednesday, as part of a large delegation of the FFC-Democratic Block, to attend the inter-Sudanese dialogue organised by Egypt. The FFC-CC has rejected the invitation.

Troika support

The Sudan Troika member states (Norway, UK, USA) welcomed the launch of the Juba Peace Agreement conference. 

In a statement yesterday, the three countries said that the event brings together women, youth, and representatives from all over Sudan, and explained that though some important stakeholders in this peace process chose not to attend the launch, the door is still open to participate in the political process. 

The Troika said that the Framework Agreement remains the basis on which a new civilian-led government can be established that will lead Sudan through a transitional period leading to free and fair elections. 

The statement urged all Sudanese political and civil actors to engage constructively in the process of reaching an agreement that would allow the country to emerge from the current political crisis. 

Speaking during a seminar at the Teiba Press Centre in Khartoum on Monday, NUP leader and former Minister of Foreign Affairs El Mahdi said that the main objective of the Framework Agreement, signed by more than 40 political parties and groups with the military junta on December 5 last year, “is to collect the largest number of members of the Sudanese spectrum in quantity and quality”. 

She explained that the most important challenges facing the Framework Agreement “are the non-participation of a number of actors, including resistance committees and other civilian bodies, in addition to the lack of trust between the signatories”. She further stressed the need for larger participation of women. 

* The Native Administration was instituted by British colonial authorities seeking a pragmatic system of governance that allowed for effective control with limited investment and oversight by the state. The Native Administration also took on new responsibilities for executing policies, collecting taxes, and mobilising labour on behalf of the central government. According to the Darfur Bar Association (DBA), the Native Administration during the 30-year rule of dictator Omar Al Bashir did not represent the real community leaders.