Under the deal, rebels fighters are to be slowly incorporated into joint units with government security forces but two well-established rebel groups did not sign, reflecting the challenges still facing the peace process.

Sudan's Sovereign Council Chief General Abdel Fattah al Burhan, South Sudan's President Salva Kiir,  Chad President Idriss Deby were among other delegates as they attended peace deal signing.
Sudan's Sovereign Council Chief General Abdel Fattah al Burhan, South Sudan's President Salva Kiir, Chad President Idriss Deby were among other delegates as they attended peace deal signing. (Reuters)

Sudan's government and rebel groups have inked a landmark peace deal aimed at ending decades of war in which hundreds of thousands died.

Ululations and cheers rang out as one by one, representatives from the transitional government and rebel groups signed the deal, a year after the peace talks began, at a ceremony in the South Sudanese capital Juba.

"Today we have reached a peace agreement. We are happy. We have finished the mission," Tut Gatluak, head of the South Sudanese mediating team said shortly before the signing took place.

Guarantors of the deal from Chad, Qatar, Egypt, the African Union, European Union, and United Nations also put their names to the agreement.

Sudanese paramilitary commander Mohamed Hamdan Daglo – best known by his nickname "Hemeti" – signed the deal on behalf of Khartoum.

A representative of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) and others from the groups making up the coalition, also signed.

The SRF comprises rebel groups from the war-ravaged western Darfur region, as well as the southern states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan.

Tricky issues

The peace agreement covers a number of tricky issues, from land ownership, reparations, and compensation to wealth and power-sharing and the return of refugees and internally displaced people.

Under the deal, SRF fighters are to be slowly incorporated into joint units with government security forces.

Two other well-established rebel groups did not sign, reflecting the challenges still facing the peace process.  

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 peace talks hosted by neighbouring 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 hold new talks hosted by South Sudan.

Engagement with other groups 

Gatluat told ahead of Saturday's ceremony in Juba that the goal is to sign deals with all armed groups.

"The parties will sign their final agreement ... and from there, we shall continue engaging with the other holdout groups of general Al Hilu and Al Noor," he said Friday.

Leaders from Kenya, Ethiopia, as well as the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia will also attend the event, he added.

Jack Mohamoud Jack, the spokesman of the Al Hilu faction, said his group will not participate in the ceremony but is ready to start separate negotiations with the Sudanese government. 

READ MORE: Sudan inks peace deal with key rebel groups to end wars

Rebel integration

Sudan has been wracked by simmering conflicts for decades. After the oil-rich south seceded in 2011, an economic crisis fuelled protests that led to the overthrow of veteran 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 to help bring democracy and peace to a country in crisis.

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 its inclusiveness and comprehensiveness because of how prominent the role of armed groups and the military is.

READ MORE: Sudan and major rebel group agree to restart peace talks

Source: TRTWorld and agencies