Sudan’s power-sharing government and several rebel groups on Saturday formalized 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.
The U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan, Donald Booth, said: “This historic achievement addresses decades of conflicts and suffering, it will also require firm and unwavering commitment to implement the agreement fully and without delays.”
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 ahead of Saturday’s ceremony that the goal was eventually to sign deals with all armed groups.
Sudan has been wracked by conflict for decades. After the oil-rich south seceded in 2011, an economic crisis fuelled protests that led to the overthrow of president Omar Hassan al-Bashir in 2019.
Sudan’s new civilian and military leaders, who have shared power since then, say ending conflicts is a top priority.
The deal sets out terms to integrate rebels into the security forces, be politically represented and have economic and land rights. A new fund will pay $750 million a year for 10 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 questioned the prominent role given to armed groups and the military.