The transitional government in Sudan has signed a landmark peace agreement with 13 rebel groups at a function held in Juba, the neighboring South Sudan capital.
The signing of the deal brokered by South Sudan President Salva Kiir on behalf of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) was witnessed by several regional leaders including Kiir himself, his first Vice President, Dr.Riek Machar, Idriss Deby(Chad), Sahle- Work Zewde ( Ethiopia),
Ismail Guelleh(Somalia) Abdel Fatah Burhan(Sudan), Ugandan Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda and several other leaders from United Arab Emirates, Egypt, the African Union, the US and the European Union among others as guarantors.
General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo also known as Hemetti signed the deal on behalf of the Khartoum government whereas each of the 13 rebel factions was represented during the signing ceremony.
It was ululations, cheers and dancing in the background from members of all factions as their representatives put pen to paper following morning to afternoon downpour at the at the John Garang Mausoleum and Freedom Hall.
Speaking at the function, President Kiir hailed the occasion as another milestone reached by Sudan in ensuring peace and stability in the region.
“We are delighted that we have pulled this achievement despite challenges in our country (South Sudan). A few people could imagine a country like ours could play a part in bringing peace to our neighbours,” Kiir said during the function.
Kiir noted that the challenges facing South Sudan could not stop them from helping a neighbor in a bid to bring to an end the conflict which has lasted more than one decade.
“Our mediation role is primarily derived from the notion that Sudanese stability is our stability to. We had to pay a huge debt to Sudan for being a guarantor to our peace agreement,” he said.
Kiir however urged Sudanese nationals to always bear in mind their diverse nation that he said should be a foundation for building peace in their country.
The Ethiopian President, Sahle- Work Zewde applauded the Sudanese government and the rebel factions for accepting to sit on a round table to bring to an end the hostilities in the country which have lasted several years.
“This upholds the African Union motto of African solutions to African problems. This is of great significance in the region since peace in Sudan is peace for the entire region,” Zewde said.
However, at the signing of the peace deal, two other well-established rebel factions including Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement-North(SPLM/N) and Sudanese Liberation Movement were not present.
The South Sudan President, Salva Kiir urged the leaders in Sudan to ensure they bring on board the remaining two factions to ensure total peace in Khartoum.
“I would like to remind Sudanese that work is not yet done. I am urging the Sudanese leaders to ensure to bring on board the other factions which are not here,” Kiir said.
The regional leaders also asked the international community to assist Sudan in the implementation of the peace agreement.
According to Dr. Dhieu Mathok, South Sudan’s Minister for Investments but also the secretary for the mediation team, South Sudan was chosen by IGAD to spearhead the mediation process and noted that the signing ceremony was a very special day for both countries.
“As Africans, you might have problems in your house but that doesn’t stop you from helping a neighbor or a brother. Sudan is our home and we know each other. We were there, we know their culture and above all we know their problems more than anybody else,” Mathok told the Nile Post in an interview at the sidelines of the signing ceremony.
He explained that despite their problems, when an opportunity to mediate between the Sudanese government and factions came up, they welcomed it with warm hands.
According to the United Nations, over 300,000 people have been killed in Darfur since rebel factions took up arms in the area in 2003.
The ousting of President Omar- al- Bashir in 2019 who had been in power for 30 years presented an opportunity for the new transitional government to seek for negotiations with the rebel factions that have always accused the Khartoum government of marginalization and land grabbing among other issues.
The new deal will see rebel forces dismantled and fighters integrated into the national army as one of the ways to silence the guns in Sudan.