The Peace Deal Real Test06 September, 2020
The Juba agreements signed between the government and the Revolutionary Front that included number of rebel groups is significant for one main reason that it will open the way for other developments.
It already led to the second meeting between Prime Minister Dr. Abdalla Hamdok and the SPLM-N rebel leader Abdel Aziz Alhilu, a meeting that hopefully will lead to substantive engagement in the peace process.
Moreover, the Juba agreement was crowned into formal ceasefire, thus ending the state of no war, no peace that has been dominating the scene for more than four years since both the government and various rebel fronts continued to declare unilateral ceasefires. Turning this unilateral ceasefires into formal ones is a step forward that moves closer to peace.
Unlike previous peace agreements throughout the history of Sudan, this one is sealed with a civilian government that was beget by a popular uprising. The two main deals that settled the first civil war back in 1972 was concluded with the May military regime; and the same applied to the CPA, concluded in 2005 with the third military Ingaz regime.
For all practical purposes both regimes were seen as buying time more than going genuinely for peace since they suffer from a chronic legitimacy problem, besides their Achilles heel as they lack the high moral ground that was occupied by the rebel groups, who claim to represent the victims of the affected areas.
Within such climate of mistrust it was easy to accuse the government that it did not honor its part of the deal and the ground is ploughed for yet another mutiny.
The Juba agreements are not inclusive as two main groups that are led by Abdel Aziz Alhilu and Abdel Wahid Mohamed Nur are not signatory to the deal yet. Moreover, there is a lot that can go wrong in implementation and there is was no international support to bankroll the peace deal as happened before, nor the country enjoys reasonable economic conditions as was the case in 2005, when Sudan then was an oil exporting country.
But this time there was none of that and the real test will be how to withstand the problems of implementing the deal, work in harmony with each other to overcome various difficulties and lay the foundation for a stronger, sustainable peace.
In fact this deal provides all players an opportunity to go back to the point where things should have started in the first place: to go back to Sudan and work from within and with the people towards peace, not from foreign capitals.
The main rationale for rebel leaders to live and operate from exile cities because the defunct regime does not tolerate any dissent. But following the political change all groups were allowed to operate and campaign from inside the country, those who were under court sentences or standing legal cases have all that dropped. It would have make a lot of sense for those rebel leaders to come back and more sense to have the peace talks held inside the country, preferably in one of the affected areas, or IDP camps.
That did not happen before and it is time to compensate for that. Whatever happens in terms of not implementing this or that part of that agreement, the way forward is to keep looking for peace through political means from within the country.
And here there is a role for the international community to play especially those in the region, who have played a role in pushing negotiating parties to conclude a deal. It is in the interest of those as well as for Sudan to give peace a chance and have patience for whatever it takes in terms of efforts and cost to keep the peaceful activity ongoing, and never resort to arms again.
The need to highlight the peaceful option has something to do with nurturing the democratic option. Democracy is a kind of a system that could survive and develop through exercise and learning from within.
The neighboring countries and the world at large have suffered from the failures of various states including Sudan in forms of refugees and illegal immigration because failed countries were driving their people to flee at whatever cost.
Sudan now has the first opportunity in generations and it will be a strategic mistake to squander the chance of working to create a model that can be copied elsewhere.
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