Intelligence Brief: New Peace Deal in Sudan Unlikely to End Darfur Conflict

Posted in Africa | 09-May-06

On May 5, under unprecedented international pressure, one group of rebels and the Sudanese government signed a peace deal that aims to end the conflict in Darfur. The deal will do next to nothing to change the situation on the ground, as it can be expected that the two signing parties will not abide by the terms of the agreement, not to mention the rebel groupings that refused to sign the deal. Nevertheless, the agreement may allow for a United Nations force to replace the failing African Union (A.U.) peacekeeping force. [See: "Regional Conflicts Weigh Heavily on Sudan's Future"]

The main wing of the Sudan Liberation Movement (S.L.M.), the largest rebel group in Darfur, signed the agreement after U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick, U.K. International Development Secretary Hilary Benn, and several African heads of state arrived in Nairobi, where the negotiations have dragged on since 2004, to push both sides into agreement. The Sudanese government approved a draft agreement, but the rebels could not be brought on board before the A.U.-imposed April 30 deadline. Two extensions to the deadline were granted and missed before the main faction of the largest rebel group, which is estimated to control just under 75 percent of the rebel troops, signed an amended agreement. The government signed the revised deal within hours.

The agreement calls for a cease-fire to begin on May 12, a compensation fund for victims of the conflict, and an international donors conference scheduled for this summer. Under the deal, 5,000 rebel troops are to be incorporated into the Sudanese army and the rebel leaders are to join the government, including the post of senior assistant to the president, the fourth-highest position.

There is little hope that the agreement will actually end the fighting in Darfur. The S.L.M. split last year when Minni Arcua Minnawi's supporters forced out Abdel Wahed Mohamed el-Nur, the former president of the S.L.M. Both Minnawi and Nur claim leadership of the S.L.M. and were represented at the negotiations (in addition to Nur's deputy, Khamis Abddallah Abakr, who was appointed temporary leader in an attempt to resolve the split and who still claims leadership). While Minnawi controls more support from the S.L.M.'s forces (also known as the Sudanese Liberation Army), Nur is thought to have more political support from the people of Darfur since he represents the Fur, the largest tribe in Darfur. Only Minnawi signed the peace agreement; the other S.L.M. representatives walked out of the negotiations, following the leaders of the other rebel group, the Justice and Equality Movement (J.E.M.).

Even if the rebels are able to overcome their differences and commit to the terms of the peace deal, there is little hope that the Sudanese government will live up to its end of the bargain. Most, but not all, of the killings on the government's side have been committed by Janjaweed militias, an irregular, tribal militia force that the Sudanese government armed and turned on the rebels. For the Sudanese government, disarming the Janjaweed will be much more difficult than it was in arming them. In any event, it is unlikely that the Sudanese government will pursue the terms of the peace agreement with much enthusiasm.

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The Power and Interest News Report (PINR) is an independent organization that utilizes open source intelligence to provide conflict analysis services in the context of international relations. PINR approaches a subject based upon the powers and interests involved, leaving the moral judgments to the reader. This report may not be reproduced, reprinted or broadcast without the written permission of [email protected]. All comments should be directed to [email protected].

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