Rosalind Marsden

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Chairman of Sudan’s Sovereign Council, Lt General Abdel Fattah al Burhan (left), South Sudan President Salva Kiir (centre) and the Sudanese Prime Minister Dr Abdalla Hamdok (right) greet people gathering during the initialling of the Sudan peace deal with the rebel groups in Juba, South Sudan. Photo by AKUOT CHOL/AFP via Getty Images.

Although there is a long road ahead to achieve sustainable peace and formidable challenges remain, the hope is Sudan can turn the page on decades of war that has left hundreds of thousands dead and millions displaced, particularly in Darfur and the Two Areas (South Kordofan and Blue Nile).

The peace agreement, between Sudan’s transitional government and the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF), a broad alliance of armed and other movements, and Minni Minawi’s Sudan Liberation Movement, is not yet comprehensive as it did not include two other important armed movements.

Expected to be formally signed in early October, the deal has been hailed as a ’historic achievement’ by the UN secretary-general, and the international community also commended the government of South Sudan for its positive role as mediator and urged hold-out groups to join the peace process.…  Seguir leyendo »

Sudanese demonstrators in Khartoum celebrate a hard-won transitional agreement on 4 August 2019. The agreement provides for a joint civilian-military body to oversee a civilian government and parliament for a three year transition period. Photo: Getty Images.

A compromise agreement

After more than seven months of peaceful pro-democracy protests, leading to the fall of former President Omar al Bashir’s regime in April, Sudan’s Transitional Military Council (TMC) and the opposition coalition of the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) agreed on 4 August to form a civilian-led transitional government, paving the way for democratic transition.

The agreement is a step forward but still leaves considerable power in the hands of the military. Given the power imbalance between the military and unarmed civilians, the FFC concluded that a compromise was needed in order to establish a transitional government, however imperfect, so that civilians could push their reform agenda from inside government and avoid a political vacuum.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Omar al-Bashir, who came to power in an Islamist-backed military coup in 1989, is facing the most serious challenge to his regime to date. Now entering their fourth month, nationwide protests calling for regime change are continuing in defiance of the national state of emergency declared by the president on 22 February.

The government has responded to the protests with a brutal security crackdown. Peaceful demonstrations have been fired on using live ammunition, and thousands of arrests have been made, with some detainees reported to have been tortured.

President Bashir has appointed a new government, installed military and security officers in all state governorships, issued emergency decrees banning unlicensed protests, established emergency courts, and deployed large numbers of security forces on the streets.…  Seguir leyendo »

People wave national flags during a peace ceremony in Juba on 31 October. Photo: Getty Images.

South Sudan’s long-running peace process has reached another milestone. On 12 September, President Salva Kiir and opposition leaders, including Riek Machar, signed a power-sharing deal promising an end to the five-year conflict that is estimated to have claimed nearly 400,000 lives and displaced one-third of the population.

Under the deal, which is a ‘revitalized’ version of a previous deal reached in 2015, Machar will be reinstated as first vice president with a reconstituted transitional government to be established in May 2019. News of the agreement was greeted with cautious optimism by a population who are desperate for peace, and huge crowds turned out for the government’s peace celebrations on 31 October.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Sudanese soldier walks in a procession during President Omar al-Bashir's tour in Darfur on 21 September. Photo: Getty Images.

After decades of isolation and tense relations with the West, Sudan seems to be coming in from the cold.

The US announced that 20-year old economic sanctions would be permanently eased with effect from 12 October because of Khartoum’s ‘positive actions’ on five tracks, including a sustained cessation of hostilities in the conflict areas of Darfur, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, improved humanitarian access and cooperation with the US on counterterrorism and addressing regional conflicts. This followed a provisional lifting of sanctions by President Obama in January.

President Omar al-Bashir and his officials are jubilant at what they see as a major political victory and an important step on the path to normalization of relations with the US.…  Seguir leyendo »

South Sudanese civilians flee fighting in an United Nations base in the northeastern town of Malakal on 18 February 2016. Photo by Getty Images.

As South Sudan marks five years of independence, the regionally-brokered August 2015 peace agreement is under severe threat. In the five day period 7-11 July, nearly 300 people are reported to have been killed in South Sudan’s capital, Juba, and tens of thousands have fled their homes as a result of fighting between the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) loyal to President Salva Kiir and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-in Opposition (SPLA-IO) loyal to First Vice President Riek Machar. On 10-11 July, the SPLA used helicopter gunships and artillery against Machar’s military base and heavy fighting took place around the airport and elsewhere in Juba.…  Seguir leyendo »

The ongoing crisis in Darfur has long since dropped out of public view, overshadowed by Syria and other more recent global crises. But Darfur is back in the headlines because the government of Sudan has just held a three-day referendum (11-13 April) on its political future. Voters were asked whether they wanted Darfur to become a single region or to continue to be administered as five separate federal states. Some 3.5 million people were registered to vote. Officials have claimed a high voter turnout, but witnesses on the ground have reported seeing many empty polling stations. The results are expected later in April.…  Seguir leyendo »