Sudanese in Khartoum celebrate peace agreement

Thousands gathered in Khartoum yesterday to welcome the members of the government negotiating delegation and of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) rebel alliance back to Khartoum after signing the comprehensive peace agreement in Juba on October 3.

El Burhan addresses crowd at Freedom Square in Khartoum on October 8 (SUNA)

Thousands gathered in Khartoum yesterday to welcome the members of the government negotiating delegation and of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) rebel alliance back to Khartoum after signing the comprehensive peace agreement in Juba on October 3.

In a speech at Freedom Square (formerly Green Square), south of the airport, the President of the Sovereignty Council, Lt Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan, announced that an official ceremony will be organised to honour the leadership of South Sudan, the negotiating delegation of the government, and the leaders of the rebel movements.

He apologised to the people of Sudan for the severe bread and fuel shortages the country is suffering from, declaring that the Sovereign Council and the Council of Ministers are responsible for the negligence.

He praised the Sudanese people for their patience and promised to change the situation for the better.

SRF-MM joint delegation

In a press statement yesterday, the SRF faction headed by Minni Minawi (SRF-MM) announced the formation of a joint delegation chaired by El Tom Hajo that traveled to Khartoum.

The Sudan Liberation Movement split-off group headed by Minawi withdrew from the mainstream SRF in May this year, yet continued with the peace talks.

The delegation will establish offices in Sudan and prepare a SRF-MM conference to be held within three months, along with carrying out their responsibilities as part of the peace agreement.

The Sudan Liberation Movement split-off faction under the leadership of Ahmed Ibrahim ‘Kazaski’ (SLM-AK), the Democratic Unionist-Revolutionary Wing led by El Tom Hajo, the Northern Entity headed by Mohamed El Jakoumi, and the Third Front recently joined the SRF-MM in Juba.

On Thursday, the SLM-AK signed the Peace Agreement in Juba. The faction’s vice president, Ali Hamed, signed the document in the presence of the South Sudanese mediation team, a representative of the Arab League, and representatives of the negotiating parties from the government and the SRF-MM. Kazaski was reportedly in France because of an emergency.

The group sought to join the negotiations a year ago and its leaders have remained in Juba until the document was signed yesterday, Hamed said in his press statement.

‘Solid foundation’

Yasir Arman, Vice President of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North under the leadership of Malik Agar (SPLM-N Agar) in Blue Nile state, announced that SRF* leaders will arrive in Khartoum on November 3.

During his address at Freedom Square, Arman said representatives for the leaders of the armed movements returned today as a symbolic gesture of the SRF rebel movements joining the ranks of the Sudanese people.

The delegation will be responsible for implementing the terms of the agreement, according to El Tom Hajo, deputy head of the SRF. He said that the priority of the next phase is providing a safe economic situation in Sudan.

Lt Gen Mohamed Hamdan ‘Hemeti’, Vice President of the Sovereign Council, Commander of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, and head of the government negotiation team, asserted that the agreement will be a solid foundation for comprehensive peace, adding: “We must exit from the cycle of war in order to reach development, through the fair distribution of power and wealth.”

He stated that the Juba Peace Agreement does not exclude any party but rather is in the interest of every Sudanese person. “We have failed to manage our diversity in the past, but we have learned from this lesson”.

Rebel holdouts

On the same day, Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok renewed his call for the Sudan Liberation Movement led by Abdelwahid El Nur (SLM-AW**) and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North led by Abdulaziz El Hilu (SPLM-N El Hilu***) to join the peace process.

He said that the country has been under “the grip of tyranny” for so long that facts were falsified and real information about the tragedies that occurred because of the war are absent. “Now that peace has been achieved, we must follow the spirit of solidarity and support.”

*The SRF is an alliance of rebel movements which was formed in November 2011 by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) of the Two Areas, and the three main Darfuri rebel groups: The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), the mainstream Sudan Liberation Movement under the leadership of Abdelwahid El Nur (SLM-AW), and the breakaway SLM faction headed by Minni Minawi (SLM-MM).

**The SLM-AW, which still has strongholds in Jebel Marra in central Darfur, did not join the SRF in peace talks in the South Sudan capital Juba in September last year. El Nur, known as a “serial naysayer” adheres to his position that he will only join negotiations after security and stability have been realised in Sudan’s conflict-torn western region.

***In August, SPLM-N El Hilu withdrew from the peace negotiations, it entered separately from the Sudan Revolutionary Front rebel alliance in the South Sudanese capital Juba, in protest against the government delegation chairman, Rapid Support Forces (RSF) Commander Lt Gen Mohamed Hamdan 'Hemeti'.

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