Will Sudan’s Peace Deal With Rebels Work?

South Sudan President Salva Kiir (C) holds up the document of the signing between the rebel groups and the government during the singing of the Sudan peace deal with the rebel groups in Juba, South Sudan, on August 31, 2020. – Akuot Chol / AFP.

 

Sudan’s government and rebel forces have agreed a landmark deal aimed at ending decades of war in which hundreds of thousands of people have been killed.

After an initialling ceremony on August 31, rebel commanders and the transitional government, which took power after the toppling of hardline ruler Omar al-Bashir last year, are set to sign a “final” deal on October 2.

– Who are the rebels? –

The Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) is a coalition of five rebel groups and four political movements.

They come from the vast western region of Darfur, at war since 2003, as well as South Kordofan and Blue Nile states in the country’s south.

Rebels there took up arms in 2011 following a pause in the wake of Sudan’s 1983-2005 civil war.

– What does the deal promise? –

The agreement deals with peace, justice, rights and the “fair distribution of authority (and) wealth.”

Sudan’s rebels are largely drawn from minority groups that chafed from marginalisation under Bashir’s regime.

The deal promises to end discrimination, including by making minority languages official.

It also protects freedom of religion, so that Christians and followers of local religions can worship in peace in the mainly Muslim nation.

– What happens first? –

Fighting stops. Both sides have agreed to a permanent cease-fire.

Rebel fighters will be slowly incorporated into joint units with government security forces.

Timelines have been set for the training and establishment of integrated forces.

– How is power shared? –

Rebels will get three seats in the sovereign council, the transitional government’s top body.

They will also get a quarter of cabinet posts and a quarter of seats in the 300-member transitional parliament.

Women must make up at least 40 percent of government posts at all levels.

Rebels will also have a role in state governments.

Local authorities will operate with autonomy from Khartoum, raising their own taxes and managing the natural resources of their regions.

– Who faces trial? –

Old government leaders, not rebels.

The deal provides for an amnesty for political leaders and rebel commanders.

But ex-officials of the former regime must stand trial — including Bashir.

The former strongman, already jailed for corruption, is on trial along with several former ministers for seizing power in a 1989 coup.

The deal calls for the formation of a special court for crimes in Darfur, where fighting killed 300,000 people.

Bashir is also wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) over charges of genocide and crimes against humanity in the western region.

The government agreed in February that Bashir should face the ICC, but domestic hearings may come first.

– What will holdout rebels do? –

If rebels fight on, the deal could be derailed.

One wing of the Darfur-based Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) has refused to lay down arms.

Its leader Abdelwahid Nour has lived abroad for several years, including in Paris, but he is understood to have retained support on the ground.

Another key rebel force, led by Abdelaziz al-Hilu, also rejected the August deal, but days later Hilu signed a separate agreement with the government.

A veteran guerilla fighter who leads a faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), he had long fought for a secular state to replace the Islamist regime of Bashir.

Hilu’s stronghold in the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan has a significant Christian community among its mainly non-Arab population.

Under the separate deal, his forces will retain their guns for “self-protection”, until Sudan’s constitution is changed to separate religion and government.

It is unclear whether Hilu will take part in the signing ceremony on October 2.

– How will it help refugees? –

Millions of Sudanese were forced from their homes by the war, either becoming refugees in neighbouring nations or living in squalid camps within Sudan.

The deal provides for their voluntary return home, with full rights like any other Sudanese citizen.

Aid groups will also get access to the areas where they are returning.

During the conflict, humanitarian agencies were often blocked from large areas with acute needs.

– Will it work? –

Analysts are hopeful, but many have seen similar deals crumble before.

Turning rebels into regular troops brings together old foes in often uneasy joint forces.

Building peace and trust after so long at war takes time.

As people return home after years away, there are fears of fresh conflict if the current occupants refuse to return the property.

Clashes have erupted in Darfur in recent weeks.

Still, the deal is “a hugely significant sign of progress,” said Jonas Horner, from the International Crisis Group think tank.

“But it is also far from comprehensive and only represents a first step towards peace,” Horner added.

“Significant hurdles remain in the way of its implementation.”

AFP

Sudan Rebels Agree Key Peace Deal

West Darfur State is one of the states of Sudan, and one of five comprising the Darfur region.
West Darfur State is one of the states of Sudan, and one of five comprising the Darfur region.

 

Sudan’s main rebel alliance has agreed a peace deal with the government aimed at ending 17 years of conflict, official news agency SUNA said Sunday.

The Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF), an alliance of rebel groups from the western region of Darfur and the southern states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, inked a peace agreement with the government late on Saturday.

A formal signing ceremony is planned for Monday in Juba, the capital of neighbouring South Sudan, which has hosted and helped mediate the long-running talks since late 2019.

Senior government officials and rebel leaders “signed their initials on protocols on security arrangements” and other issues late Saturday, SUNA reported.

However, two key holdout rebel forces have refused to take part in the deal.

The final agreement covers key issues around security, land ownership, transitional justice, power sharing, and the return of people who fled their homes due to war.

It also provides for the dismantling of rebel forces and the integration of their fighters into the national army.

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and several ministers flew to Juba on Sunday, the news agency said, where he met with South Sudan President Salva Kiir.

– ‘Start of peace-building’ –

Hamdok said that finding a deal had taken longer than first hoped after a initial agreement in September 2019.

“At the Juba declaration in September, everyone expected peace to be signed within two or three months, but …we realised that the questions were of one great complexity,” Hamdok said.

“However, we were able to accomplish this great work, and this is the start of peace-building.”

The rebel forces took up arms against what they said was the economic and political marginalisation by the government in Khartoum.

They are largely drawn from non-Arab minority groups that long railed against Arab domination of successive governments in Khartoum, including that of toppled autocrat Omar al-Bashir.

About 300,000 people have been killed in Darfur since rebels took up arms there in 2003, according to the United Nations.

Conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile erupted in 2011, following unresolved issues from bitter fighting there in Sudan’s 1983-2005 civil war.

Forging peace with rebels has been a cornerstone of Sudan’s transitional government, which came to power in the months after Bashir’s overthrow in April 2019 on the back of mass protests against his rule.

Two movements rejected part of the deal — a faction of the Sudan Liberation Movement, led by Abdelwahid Nour, and a wing of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), headed by Abdelaziz al-Hilu.

Previous peace accords in Sudan, including one signed in Nigeria in 2006 and another signed in Qatar in 2010, have fallen through over the years.

AFP

DR Congo Signs ‘Peace’ Deal With Armed Group In East

 

The Congolese government has signed a deal with an armed group to restore peace and security in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo after decades of violence, UN officials said.

The agreement was signed in the gold-rich province of Ituri, long wracked by communal violence that has left tens of thousands dead.

The deal, signed Friday between the DRC authorities and the FRPI (Patriotic Resistance Forces in Ituri), calls for a ceasefire and integration of the militias into the regular army.

“This agreement… is tasked with ending nearly two decades of violence,” the United Nations mission in DRC, MONUSCO, said in a statement.

It is “designed to restore peace, security and stability” in southern Ituri, following “several aborted attempts,” it added.

The FRPI, which today numbers 500 fighters, has been active in the south of Ituri for two decades.

The armed group is a holdover from the communal conflict that ravaged the province between 1999 and 2003, leaving tens of thousands dead until the intervention of a French-led European force called Artemis.

A local resident hailed the peace deal, particularly for families caught in the crosshairs of conflict.

“For we women, this agreement is synonymous with hope,” Gety resident Anualite Zawadi said, according to MONUSCO.

“For nearly 20 years, women were raped. We had trouble going to work in the fields. Children rarely went to school because of the lack of security.”

The conflict has seen several high-profile FRPI players punished over the years.

Former warlord Germain Katanga was sentenced in 2014 to 12 years in prison by the International Criminal Court for complicity in war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Another militia leader, Cobra Matata, was arrested and transferred to Kinshasa in January 2015, but his trial has never started.

Several thousand FRPI fighters were demobilised and integrated into the Congolese army from 2004 until 2006, but the group started reforming at the end of 2007.

Since the end of 2017, northern Ituri has seen a resurgence in violence between local militia groups that has left at least 700 people dead.

The UN says the violence could amount to a crime against humanity.

Putin Proposes Peace Deal Between Russia And Japan

Russian President Vladimir Putin gives a speech at the plenary session of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok on September 12, 2018. Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP

 

 

 

 

President Vladimir Putin suggested Wednesday Russia and Japan sign a peace deal “without any preconditions” by the end of the year, a historic proposal to try to solve a territorial dispute after decades of deadlock.

Putin’s sudden proposal came just two days after he said that the two countries’ territorial dispute was unlikely to be settled soon.

The dispute between Russia and Japan centers on the four southernmost islands in the Kuril chain which the Soviet Union occupied at the end of World War II in 1945 but are claimed by Japan.

It has kept the two countries from signing a peace accord.

“We have been trying to solve the territorial dispute for 70 years. We’ve been holding talks for 70 years,” Putin said at an economic forum in the far eastern Russian city of Vladivostok attended by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

“Shinzo said: ‘let’s change our approaches.’ Let’s! Let’s conclude a peace agreement, not now but by year’s end without any preconditions,” Putin said, with the audience breaking into applause.

“It is not a joke,” Putin added, suggesting the two countries commit to solving the territorial dispute in the text of the agreement.

Putin said the conclusion of such a deal would create a better atmosphere and allow the two countries to “continue to solve all outstanding issues like friends.”

“It seems to me that this would facilitate the solution of all problems which we have not been able to solve during the past 70 years.”

The Japanese prime minister for his part said the two countries “have a duty to future generations.”

“Let us walk together mindful of the questions ‘If we don’t do it now, then when?’ And ‘if we don’t do it, then who will?'” Abe said, speaking before Putin. “We are both fully aware that it will not be easy.”

On Monday, Putin had seemed to pour cold water on suggestions that the dispute could be solved soon.

“It would be naive to think that it can be solved quickly,” Putin said after meeting Abe on the sidelines of the forum.

– ‘Putin trolls Abe’ –

But some diplomats said the proposal was a non-starter.

A former Russian deputy foreign minister, Georgy Kunadze, said he doubted that Putin wanted to solve the territorial problem in earnest.

“This is called trolling. Putin does not expect anything,” Kunadze told Echo of Moscow radio station.

He suggested Abe would never accept a deal that would be political suicide.

Putin and Abe have held numerous meetings over the past few years in a bid to solve the dispute over the islands known in Japan as the Northern Territories.

The two countries have launched various economic projects on the islands in areas such as the farming of fish and shellfish, wind-generated energy, and tourism.

Since last year, Tokyo and Moscow have also agreed on charter flights for Japanese former island inhabitants to visit family graves there.

Russian and Japanese foreign ministry officials said work on the future agreement would continue as usual.

“The government will continue its negotiations on the basic principle that we will sign a peace treaty after resolving the issue of the attribution of the Four Northern Islands,” Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters.

“This stance hasn’t changed.”

In Moscow, deputy foreign minister Igor Morgulov told Russian news agencies that Putin’s announcement would not require any changes to the current format of negotiations.

The Kurils, which lie north of Japan’s Hokkaido island, have been controlled by Moscow since they were seized by Soviet troops in the dying days of World War II.

The four islands are known in Russian as Iturup, Shikotan, Habomai, and Kunashir.

Putin’s predecessor, Dmitry Medvedev visited Kunashir in 2010, becoming the first Russian leader to do so and provoking fury in Tokyo.

AFP

Trump Pledges Middle East Peace Deal

Trump Pledges Middle East Peace DealUnited States President, Donald Trump has promised to work on a peace deal between Israel and Palestine.

He said this at a joint press conference, following his first meeting with Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, at the White House on Wednesday.

He also called on Israel to curb settlements in the West Bank.

President Trump said Israel and the Palestinians must directly negotiate a peace agreement, to which he was encouraged by the Israeli Prime Minister, to seek new avenues of peace in the Middle East.

He indicated a two-state solution and a single state could work, if both sides agreed.

When asked about his election promise to move the U.S embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which could have serious implications for any peace negotiations, Mr Trump said he would still love to see it happen.

Ekiti Government And Herdsmen Sign Peace Agreement

Ekiti Government And Herdsmen Sign Peace AgreementThe Ekiti state government has signed a peace agreement with the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria on the anti-grazing law.

The State Governor, Mr Ayo Fayose said there is no going back on the law as he insisted that government’s responsibility is to ensure the safety of the lives and property of Ekiti citizens.

The south-west chairman of the association, Alhaji Kabir Mohammed promised that the herdsmen will do everything to ensure peace prevails in the state.

The operations of the Grazing Enforcement Marshall, established to enforce the Ekiti State Government’s Anti-Grazing Act was suspended on Tuesday after issues were raised by the herders’ association, claiming that some of the animals were killed by the officials.

Governor Ayodele Fayose said they would stay suspended for few days to enable the state address issues raised.

“They have demanded that I should allow them three days for them to move some of these cattle to permanent areas where they will be grazing. So, I have suspended the activities of the marshals for the next five days,” he saidd.

Governor Fayose expressed happiness that the leaders of the of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeder’s Association, decided to contact the state government instead of listening to rumours being peddled around by the opposition.

He, however, debunked the claims that cattle were killed by the marshals.

“The marshals are not armed. There is total misinformation about killing of cows, shooting of cows. It is pure political and misinformation,” he said.

The Ekiti State Government’s Anti-Grazing Act prohibits herders from indiscriminate movement within the State with their animals at specified time.

Southern Kaduna: Fulani Leaders, Traditional Rulers Sign Peace Deal

Southern Kaduna: Fulani Leaders, Traditional Rulers Sign Peace DealFulani leaders and traditional leaders in Kaduna state have agreed to a peace pact aimed at ensuring an end to the bloody clashes that have left several people dead with property destroyed in southern Kaduna.

This is an aftermath of a meeting called by the General Officer Commanding, 1 Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General Adeniyi Oyebade, which saw him along with heads of other security agencies in Kaduna meet with traditional rulers and leaders of Fulani community.

The intervention by the GOC follows recent escalated attacks by suspected herdsmen in about ten communities in Jemaa and Sanga local government areas of the state, that have left several people dead and property worth millions of naira destroyed.

Having informed the people about the purpose of the gathering, the leaders made their presentations and the meeting later went into closed door.

After about five hours of deliberation, journalists were brought into the room where the GOC read out their resolutions.

They include the setting up of a peace and reconciliation committee to resolve all pending issues, banning of child herdsmen from grazing with cattle on farmlands and major roads, and prohibition of carrying of fire arms by herdsmen among others

The GOC appealed to the warring parties to sheathe their swords for the interest of peace.

He warned that any party or individual found involved in any further attack would be prosecuted according to the law.

While expressing displeasure over the spate of killings in the area, he gave the assurance that security agencies would continue to discharge their responsibilities of protecting lives and property in the area.

Emerging from the closed door parley, the National Secretary of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, Baba Othman, gave the assurance that his people would abide by the resolution.

He told journalists that a committee would be set up by all the parties for full implementation of the resolutions.

Over the years, there has been several ethno-religious crises that have ravaged many communities southern Kaduna.

Since the beginning of 2017, not less than ten villages in Jemaa and Sanga local government areas both in the southern part of Kaduna state have come under heavy attacks by gunmen that have left scores of people dead.

The gunmen attacked three villages, Godogodo, Akwa’a and Anguwan Anjo, killing over 60 people freely and destroying houses and farmlands.

Just about four days before the peace meeting, seven people including a community leader were murdered in cold blood with no trace of their killers.

Colombia’s President Santos Tries To Save FARC Peace Deal

Colombia, Peace Deal, FARCThe President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, is doing all he can to save a peace deal with the FARC rebels after the “no” camp won the country’s referendum over the weekend.

President Santos has appointed a team of senior government officials to launch talks with the opposition on changes to the peace deal with the FARC.

He made the announcement after meeting with political party leaders.

Former President Alvaro Uribe, who led the “no” campaign, did not attend the meeting but appointed three negotiators to hold talks with the government.

Mr Uribe, a senator and leader of the Democratic Centre Party, wants rebels who committed serious crimes to serve prison sentences and for some of the FARC leaders to be banned from politics.

Voters in Colombia narrowly rejected a landmark peace deal with FARC rebels in a referendum result which showed 50.24% voting against it.

The deal which was signed earlier by President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC leader Timoleon Jimenez after nearly four years of negotiations needed to be ratified by Colombians in order to come into force.

The surprise victory for the “no” camp disappointed the international community from the White House to the Vatican, that had expected an end of the longest-running conflict in the Americas.

Voter turnout was only 37 percent, and it is believed that the torrential rain through the country caused this.

Addressing the nation, President Santos said he accepted the result but would continue working to achieve peace.

He said the current ceasefire remained in place and that he had ordered negotiators to travel to Cuba to consult FARC leaders on the next move.

“I will not give up, I will keep seeking peace until the last day of my term because that is the way to leave a better nation for our children,” said Santos, who cannot seek re-election when his second term ends in August 2018.

Voters In Colombia Reject Peace Deal    

colombia, Colombia ceasefireVoters in Colombia have narrowly rejected a landmark peace deal with FARC rebels in a referendum result which showed 50.24% voting against it.

The deal which was signed last week by President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC leader Timoleon Jimenez after nearly four years of negotiations needed to be ratified by Colombians in order to come into force.

The surprise victory for the “no” camp disappoints the international community from the White House to the Vatican, that had expected an end of the longest-running conflict in the Americas.

Voter turnout was only 37 percent, and it is believed that the torrential rain through the country caused this.

Addressing the nation, President Santos said he accepted the result but would continue working to achieve peace.

He said the current ceasefire remained in place and that he had ordered negotiators to travel to Cuba to consult FARC leaders on the next move.

“I will not give up, I will keep seeking peace until the last day of my term because that is the way to leave a better nation for our children,” said Santos, who cannot seek re-election when his second term ends in August 2018.

Meanwhile, the FARC leader, known as Timochenko, said the group remained committed to securing an end to the war. He also criticized the no campaign.

“The FARC reiterates its disposition to use only words as a weapon to build toward the future,” said Timochenko, whose real name is Rodrigo Londono. “To the Colombian people who dream of peace, count on us, peace will triumph.”

The rebels earlier agreed to lay down their weapons after 52 years of conflict to join the political process. But critics said the deal treated the FARC, which the US still considers a terrorist group, too leniently.

The deal would have allowed rebel leaders to avoid a prison sentence if they confessed their crimes. The rebels were also promised 10 seats in congress for the next two elections.

More Of Lavish Yanukovich Properties Revealed In Ukraine

Local Ukrainian media reported on several more properties owned by ousted president, Viktor Yanukovich, on Monday (February 24) including a massive country residence under construction in Sevastopol, in the Crimean penninsula.

There is frenzy and fascination in the Ukrainian media about where all the country’s money has gone as the economy is in dire straits. Reporters have flocked to Yanukovich’s properties looking for any information they can on what the ousted president – now wanted for mass murder – wasted state money on.

Overlooking the Black Sea the huge residence has also angered locals because they say the construction company destroyed valuable and endangered trees.

“I am in complete shock about the trees. They are on the endangered species list and it takes many lifetimes to grow them and sometimes they can be completely eradicated,” said a local man, Dmytro Vorobyov.

“This shows a total disregard for nature, law and human beings; to build a five-storey house that is three times bigger than the local youth hall,” said a local woman, Olena Prokhina.

This comes just two days after the private residence of disgraced president, whose whereabouts are still unknown, was opened to visitors near Kiev.

The sprawling forested estate of graceful waterways and summer houses on land half the size of Monaco stands as a symbol of the folly of Ukraine’s fugitive president.

And yet it appeared it was not enough for him as it appeared he also planned to enjoy a giant holiday home in the beautiful and wooded Sevastopol hills.

His hunting lodge was also on display in Sukholesye.

Ukrainians are rapidly finding out about Yanukovich’s outstanding wealth and want to know how he financed these properties.

Anger has welled up as Ukrainians whose average salary is 500 U.S. dollars a month find out their taxes appear to have been squandered on Yanukovich’s entertainment.

This as the EU is discussing emergency financial aid for Ukraine to raise short-term funding as the country needs 35 billion U.S. dollars to survive 2014 and 2015.

Ukraine: President Yanukovych Agrees To A Presidential Election

As part of a peace deal, the Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych, has agreed to hold a presidential election before the end of the year.

The President has also agreed to a national unity government and to make constitutional changes which will ultimately reduce the power of the President.

This development came after hours of talks with the opposition leaders.

The opposition has not spoken about the deal and it remains unclear whether protesters would back it.

The German and Polish foreign ministers, who mediated the talks in Kiev, were reported to be on their way to talk to protesters in Kiev’s independence square.

Ukrainian broadcaster, ICTV, confirmed that it had seen a copy of the deal, and it had been signed by all parties.