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Sudan Holdout Group: Peace Deal Fails to Address Conflict’s Root Causes

Yasir Arman, the deputy head of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North and secretary-general Ismail Khamis Jalab celebrate after the signing of a peace agreement between Sudan's power-sharing government and five key rebel groups, Aug 31, 2020.

The leader of the rebel group Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM), which was not part of the negotiations in Juba that led to a peace deal Monday, is calling the agreement nothing more than a plan to distribute wealth and government positions, and asserting it does not address the underlying reasons for Sudan’s conflicts.

SLM leader Abdel Wahid al-Nur told South Sudan in Focus Wednesday from Paris that the agreement reached in Juba will not achieve peace in Sudan.

“The SLM as a movement is rejecting that peace agreement because it’s business as usual; it’s the same as the Abuja Agreement, it’s the same agreement of the two regions, it’s the same agreement of Doha, it’s the same agreements since Bashir came to power ‘til today — 47 agreements, none of them were implemented because they did not address the root causes of the problem,” Nur told VOA.

The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement — North faction, (SPLM-North) led by Abdel-Aziz al-Hilu, pulled out of the talks, saying it wanted General Mohammed Hamadan Dagalo to be replaced as the government’s chief negotiator. The group has offered to continue negotiating with the government, however, if their demand is met. The group's negotiators were still in Juba on Wednesday.

Human Rights Watch and rebel groups have accused Dagalo of committing human rights abuses in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.

Kuku Jagdol, spokesperson of the SPLM-North al-Hilu, told South Sudan in Focus his group is ready to continue negotiating based on a declaration of principles the two parties agreed to before the peace talks began.

“The relationship between the state and religion that is through secularism; separation of religion and the state, identify issues, land issues, system of governance, establishing a unified national army, these are part of the points in the declaration of principles,” Jagdol said.

Dagalo committed crimes against civilians in several parts of Sudan for years under the rule of ousted president Omar al-Bashir, according to Jagdol.

Sudan’s conflicts resulted from the monopoly of power by certain elites in Khartoum and the marginalization of peoples from other areas based on their ethnicity and religion, according to Nur.

He listed what he views as the major issues preventing Sudan peace. “The problem is [lack of] equal citizenship rights in the country. Second, to address why people became rebels? Because there’s no equal citizenship rights, there’s no distribution of wealth, there’s no equal development in the country, there’s no equality between black and Arab and Muslim and Christian,” Nur said.

Although SLM rejected the deal, Nur said unilateral cease-fires declared by his group and Sudan’s government allow him to return to the country “to work for peace inside the country."

The United States, the United Kingdom and Norway — often referred to as “the troika” — released a statement Monday welcoming the Sudan peace deal and urging the SPLM-North-Abdel-Aaziz al-Hilu and the Sudan Liberation Movement-Abdul Wahid al-Nur factions to engage in “serious negotiations” with the Sudan government to “achieve comprehensive peace.”

U.N. secretary-general spokesperson Stephane Dujarric released a statement Monday saying the secretary-general “congratulates the people of the Sudan for this historic achievement and commends the parties to the negotiations for their political will and determination in working toward the common objective of peace.”

Dujarric also thanked South Sudan President Salva Kiir and the South Sudan government for facilitating the talks, and he called on the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement–North–Abdel Aziz al-Hilu and the Sudan Liberation Movement–Abdul Wahid al-Nur to join the peace process.