Sudan, rebel alliance reach deal in ongoing peace efforts

FILE - In this Oct. 14, 2019 file photo, provided by the official SUNA news agency, Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, center right, head of Sudan's sovereign council, is greeted by South Sudan's President Salva Kiir, center left, as Sudan's new transitional government kicks off peace talks aimed at ending the country's yearslong civil wars, in Juba, South Sudan. The Sudan Revolutionary Front, a rebel alliance, and Sudans transitional authorities signed a peace deal Monday, Aug. 31, 2020, following months of negotiations in Juba. But other powerful armed groups have thus far declined to join them. (SUNA via AP, File)
FILE - In this Oct. 14, 2019 file photo, provided by the official SUNA news agency, Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, center right, head of Sudan's sovereign council, is greeted by South Sudan's President Salva Kiir, center left, as Sudan's new transitional government kicks off peace talks aimed at ending the country's yearslong civil wars, in Juba, South Sudan. The Sudan Revolutionary Front, a rebel alliance, and Sudans transitional authorities signed a peace deal Monday, Aug. 31, 2020, following months of negotiations in Juba. But other powerful armed groups have thus far declined to join them. (SUNA via AP, File)

JUBA – Sudan’s transitional authorities and a rebel alliance signed a peace deal on Monday following months of tortuous negotiations aimed at ending the country’s decades-long civil wars, but other powerful armed groups have thus far declined to join them.

The deal was reached between the Sudanese government and the Sudan Revolutionary Front, a coalition of several armed groups. Leaders signed the agreement in South Sudan’s capital, Juba, where talks have been held since late last year.

Negotiating an end to the rebellions in Sudan’s far-flung provinces has been a crucial goal for the transitional government, which assumed power after a popular uprising led the military to overthrow President Omar al-Bashir in April 2019. Authorities hope to revive the country’s battered economy through slashing military spending, which takes up much of the national budget.

Sudan is currently ruled by a military-civilian government, with elections possible in late 2022. A cease-fire between government forces and the rebels has been in place since al-Bashir’s ouster.

The televised ceremony was attended by South Sudan President Salva Kiir, whose own country gained independence from Sudan in 2011 following decades of civil war. The head of Sudan’s sovereign council, Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, and Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok also attended the signing. Deputy chief of the Sudanese Sovereign Council, Gen. Mohammed Hamadan Dagalo, signed the agreement along with rebel leaders.

Jonas Horner, senior Sudan analyst at the International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think tank, called the agreement a “hugely significant sign of progress for Sudan's transition.”

“But it is also far from comprehensive and only represents a first step towards peace, while significant hurdles remain in the way of its implementation,” he added. “International financial and diplomatic support, or even pressure if needed, will be imperative to make sure the parties implement the agreement.”

Malik Agar, head of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, which is part of the rebel alliance, called for national commitment to the deal's success as well as international support, particularly through financial contributions.