Muawad Mustafa Rashid
As the Paris Investment Conference inches closer, there are high hopes that it will contribute in resolving the Sudanese economic crisis, especially in regard to funding the Juba Peace Agreement signed between the Sudanese government and the armed struggle movements last October.
The Juba Peace Agreement is actually a collection of accords setting out principles covering power and wealth sharing, land reform, transitional justice, security arrangements and the return of displaced persons.
It also sets to the clock back to zero on the country’s post-Bashir transitional period that had initially been fixed in the August 2019 accord, extending it by 39 months to early 2024, when elections are now due to be held.
Authorities have put the cost of carrying out the Juba deal at some $13 billion over ten years, with Khartoum responsible for $7.5 billion of that sum for the agreement’s implementation in Darfur.
The important provisions for the rebels are questions related to integration of their leaders into government and their fighters into the security forces, as well as how power sharing between their regions and Khartoum will evolve.
Rebels are to be absorbed into security agencies with those who are not returned home through a Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR) program that will help them find civilian livelihoods.
As the signatory armed groups pivot toward a political alliance with the military factions in government, they have taken to recruiting more men into their ranks.
With more recruits in their ranks, rebel forces have also become a possible future threat in the possibility of the agreement collapsing.
The threat could be particularly acute in Darfur, where the mandate of the UN-African Union Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) has ended, meaning that a key mechanism for deterring violence has vanished.
What are the Stakes?
Renewed inter-communal violence is a risk, as is a descent into fighting among disaffected armed groups.
If absorbing armed factions into transitional institutions carries risks, leaving them out in the cold would be even worse.
It is true that there is a signed matrix and some of the armed struggle movements had entered greater Khartoum with their heavy arms and troops to start with the security arrangements implementation, but unfortunately the government could do nothing because the donors had not fulfilled their pledges.
The remained options before the government and the armed struggle movements in case the donors fail to fulfill their pledges are to work out an emergency plan to allocate part of the revenues of our natural resources, and start as soon as possible on the implementation of the security arrangements matrix.
How the Juba Peace Agreement’s armed signatory groups will be incorporated into the security services will be crucial.
It is essential that the transitional government does not bloat the security services, and in doing so further empower the military while deepening the country’s fiscal crisis, leaving it without resources to fund other key components of the agreement and needed services.
To achieve that and maintain fair representation within the security services, only a certain number of rebels can be accommodated. The rest should be disarmed and supported to reintegrate into civilian International assistance to the transitional government has fallen short of the robust levels that the situation calls for.
Despite its shortcomings, Sudan’s external partners need to rally around the Juba agreement and help steady the transition.
The responsibility lies primarily with Sudan’s leaders, but they cannot do it alone. The transitional government’s external partners must step up with political and economic support. With that absent, an even greater pain could await Sudan and all those with an interest in the Horn of Africa’s peace and security.
Juba Accord the Focus
The implementation of the Juba Peace Agreement needs, besides funding, the existence of a strong political will and quick formation of the Peace Commission to continue with the peace path.
But within the fragile situations in Sudan there are fears that the Sudanese government might not be able to provide the required finance for the implementation of the agreement’s items, especially security arrangements.
The agreement requires US$1.3 billion dollars to finance its items, including the security arrangements in its all stages, the compensations, reconstruction of war affected areas and the repatriation of the IDPs and refuges to their home villages.
The government pledged to pay US$750 million annually for a period of ten years.
Let us hope that the papers which will be presented in the Paris Investment Conference have put consideration into the importance of providing funding to implement the Juba Peace Agreement, especially in regard to the security arrangements.
The Minister of Finance, being one of the leaders of the armed struggle movements’ peace signatories, is now in the front lines in the implementation of Juba Peace Agreements and its merits.