Sudan and several rebel groups have formalised a peace agreement aimed at resolving decades of conflict which left millions displaced and hundreds of thousands dead.
Three major groups signed a preliminary deal in August – two factions from the western region of Darfur and one from the southern region – after months of talks hosted by South Sudan.
Another powerful rebel group, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North led by Abdelaziz al-Hilu, which had not participated in initial peace negotiations, agreed last month to join new talks hosted by South Sudan.
Dancers from Darfur and the Nile states performed on the stage before the signing in Juba.
“This historic achievement addresses decades of conflict and suffering. It will also require a firm and unwavering commitment to implementing the agreement fully and without delays,” said Donald Booth, US Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan.
“Today is another historic day for #Sudan, its citizens and the whole region. Many have worked tirelessly and courageously to make this peace agreement a reality. The EU will continue standing by your side to implement it,” Josep Borrell Fontelles, the EU high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, said in a tweet.
The presidents of Ethiopia and Chad and the prime ministers of Egypt and Uganda were among regional officials and politicians at the event.
Tut Gatluak, the South Sudanese chief mediator, said before Saturday’s ceremony that the goal was eventually to sign deals with all the armed groups.
Sudan has been racked by conflict for decades. After the oil-rich South seceded in 2011, an economic crisis fuelled protests which led to the overthrow of President Omar Hassan el-Bashir in 2019.
Bridge the gap
Sudan’s new civilian and military leaders, who have shared power since then, say that ending conflicts is a top priority.
A new fund will pay US$750 million a year for ten years to the impoverished southern and western regions and the chance of return for displaced people is also guaranteed.
Analysts have welcomed the agreement but question the prominent role given to armed groups and the military.