Tens of thousands of people gathered at Freedom Square in Khartoum yesterday morning to welcome the leaders of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) rebel alliance, who signed the Juba Peace Agreement on October 3.
Lt Gen Mohamed Hamdan ‘Hemeti’, Vice President of the Sovereign Council, said in his speech at Freedom Square that “the peace agreement is not an opponent of anyone but an attempt to restore the Sudanese state on just foundations”.
“Peace has been achieved by strong will and sincere intentions”, he said. “The sound of bullets will be silenced forever. Today we turn a black page from the history of Sudan and stop the evil circle of violence forever.”
Hemeti called on holdout rebel leaders Abdelaziz El Hilu (Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North under the leadership of El Hilu) and Abdelwahid El Nur (Sudan Liberation Movement under the leadership of El Nur – SLM-AW) "to join peace, as there is no objective justification in glorifying war, and reducing the chances of peace".
SLM-AW has consistently stated that it will only enter peace talks after security and stability have been restored in Darfur.
Hemeti emphasised the importance of the slogan of the revolution ‘Freedom, Peace, and Justice’ and the rejection of racism. He affirmed the government's commitment to implement the peace agreement, item by item, and said the government is aware of the huge security, social, political, and economic risks.
Minni Minawi, head of a Sudan Liberation Movement breakaway faction (SLM-MM) and chairman of the SRF faction that split off from the mainstream SRF rebel alliance in May this year, stated in his speech at Freedom Square that the perpetrators of war crimes must be brought to justice and that Sudan must be governed according to the rule of law. He called for development of the war-affected areas, individual and collective compensation for the displaced, and voluntary return of the displayed to their original villages.
Minawi called for strengthened cooperation between local and international partners to solve the bread, fuel, transportation and medicine shortages.
He appealed to all citizens to participate in the implementation of peace, and called on the rebel movements that did not sign the Juba Peace Agreement “to catch up, so that a real comprehensive peace can be achieved”.
Head of the SLM-Transitional Council faction and SRF chairman El Hadi Idris stated at Freedom Square that the Juba Peace Agreement “addresses basic historical injustices, especially in the least developed regions affected by war”.
He appealed to all political forces to unite to protect the country, and to stand with the government to confront economic challenges and stop the suffering of the Sudanese people.
Ibrahim El Sheikh, leading member of the Central Council of the Forces for Freedom and Change, said that “sustainable peace is not an agreement concluded, but rather a permanent commitment to be fulfilled on a daily basis, and a joint responsibility defined by a carefully crafted time-line and matrix”.
He called on all Sudanese leaders to alleviate the suffering of the people. He added that the December revolution came after “long work that lasted for three difficult years”.
Many people in the crowd however, expressed their dissatisfaction with the current economic policies of the government, and chanted during El Sheikh’s address: “We are fed up with you”.
The FFC has been the backbone of the Sudanese 2018 December Revolution that led to the military coup in April 2019 that ousted President Al Bashir. In August 2019, the FFC agreed with the then ruling Transitional Military Council on the establishment of a Sovereign Council and a civilian government of technocrats to rebuild the country during a transitional period of three years, after which general elections will be held.
Yet, tensions have been growing among the revolutionaries on the ground and members of the Resistance Committees active in the neighbourhoods of the main cities and towns. They criticise what they see as a slow implementation of the demands of the revolution, have demanded more than once a ‘correction of the course of the revolution’ this year.
In addition, rumours have it that political differences may thwart the implementation of the Juba Peace Agreement. Online media outlet Sudan Press Net reported that the SRF rebel leaders left the press conference held at Khartoum International Airport yesterday morning before FFC representative Kamal Bolad could hold his welcome speech.
The leaders of the SRF held two separate meetings with members of the Sovereign Council and the Council of Ministers before they set out to Freedom Square to address the crowd and celebrate peace.
Sovereign Council President Lt Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan welcomed the parties to the peace process in a tweet.
Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok stressed in the meeting with the SRF delegation the need to preserve the unity of Sudan as an issue of paramount importance. He said that the first steps have been taken to put an end to the suffering of the displaced in the camps. According to Hamdok, the Juba Peace Agreement is the first peace agreement that addresses the roots of the problems in Sudan.
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