Sudan’s transitional authorities have signed a peace deal with some rebel groups after a year of negotiations in South Sudan’s capital, Juba.
A handful of rebel groups have battled the army and allied militias in the western region of Darfur and the southern states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, some splintering after decades of civil conflict. These are the key ones:
*Justice and Equality Movement (JEM)
The JEM, led by Jibril Ibrahim, is one of two significant groups from the western region of Darfur to sign the peace deal.
The group was among mostly non-Arab rebels who took up arms against the government of former leader Omar al-Bashir in 2003, complaining that Darfur was being marginalised. This triggered a brutal repression by the army and mostly-Arab militias.
Once a formidable force with links to Chad, the JEM’s ranks have dwindled in recent years and have not been active inside Darfur. Some fighters have operated in Libya alongside forces aligned with Tripoli’s Government of National Accord (GNA), according to analysts and U.N. investigators.
*Sudan Liberation Army-Minni Minawi (SLA-MM)
Minni Minawi’s SLA faction is the second Darfuri group to sign the deal in Juba.
His group evolved out of a tribal split in the SLA, and was associated more with fighting the “Janjaweed” militias accused of atrocities in Darfur than political opposition to the government in Khartoum.
Minawi signed a peace deal with Bashir’s government in 2006 and was given a high ranking official title, but had declared himself in rebellion again by 2010.
The SLA-MM has recently been most active in Libya, where analysts say it has fought alongside anti-GNA forces loyal to eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar.
*Sudan Liberation Army-Abdel Wahed (SLA-AW)
An SLA faction led by Abdel Wahed el-Nur, the most active group on the ground in Darfur, did not sign the Juba deal.
The SLA-AW is seen as the only significant rebel fighting force remaining inside Darfur, where Nur draws on support among his Fur tribe, especially in camps for Darfuri displaced.
However, its power in its Jabal Marra stronghold has declined and its membership fractured during Nur’s long, self-imposed exile in France. Like SLA-MM, its fighters have also reportedly fought in Libya with pro-Haftar forces.
Analysts say Nur, who has a reputation for shunning negotiations, objects to the predominance of the military in Sudan’s transitional power sharing arrangements.
The military has played a prominent role in the Juba peace process.
*Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N)-Malik Agar
The SPLM is made up of fighters who sided with the south in the civil war before South Sudan seceded in 2011. The SPLM-N, formed that same year with a presence in the southern Sudanese states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, later split into two factions.
One faction, led by Malik Agar and Yasir Arman, signed the peace deal in Juba.
Agar has sought wide autonomy for the southern states, where communities complain of marginalisation by authorities in Khartoum.
When the SPLM-N splintered in 2017, Abdelaziz al-Hilu took most of the fighters with him. He has a stronghold in the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan, and commands the biggest rebel faction in the region.
Though he received Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok on a rare visit in January, Hilu opted out of the peace deal, sticking to a politically ambitious demand that Sudan becomes a secular state.
But he also said he did not object to the Juba process, leaving open the possibility of further negotiations. – Thomson Reuters Foundation.