Eastern Sudan conference ends, but not without criticism


At the end of the conference on crucial issues for eastern Sudan in Khartoum on Wednesday, 28 political parties and civil society groups from eastern Sudan signed an agreement stipulating the rapid implementation of the protocol of the ‘Eastern Sudan Track. Resistance committees criticized the conference.

Ibrahim Ismail Jami, head of the preparatory committee for the conference, explained that the Conference on Critical Issues for Eastern Sudan aims to redress the imbalance between central and eastern Sudan and end the marginalization of Sudanese east and the absence of authorities in eastern Sudan. .

Munir Saeed, a member of the conference preparatory committee, explained the content of the agreements to reporters after the conference, which was held in Khartoum.

The new agreement on eastern Sudan adopts a federal system for the governance of the three states of eastern Sudan (Red Sea State, Kassala and El Gedaref) while preserving the authorities of each state until the convocation of a conference on federal governance.

He said the agreement stipulates the representation of Eastern Sudanese “in all civil and military institutions” and fair compensation for victims of conflicts in the region.

Saeed explained that a number of participants raised the issue of autonomy and self-determination.

The conference participants also underscored the need for East Sudanese unity on strategic issues and the criminalization of racism and hate speech.

The main outcome of the conference was the rapid implementation of the Eastern Sudan Track protocol.

Conference organizers pointed out that Eastern Sudan was cut off from power participation after the Eastern Sudan Track was suspended in December last year at the behest of the High Council of Beja Nazirs* and leaders independent.

Jami said that the agreement contains the documents of the formation of the Beja Congress in 1958, the peace agreements of Asmara (1995) and Juba (2020), the results of the conferences of Sinkat, Shambub and Telkok, and various other documents, including reports. about the Port Sudan massacre that took place in January 2005.

The Eastern Sudan Shambub Conference in Kassala last year (IG News)

The organizers of the conference have so far been keen to highlight the broad participation of political groups and civil society, even stating that the conference will be held with the participation “of all political parties, movements, civil society organizations and Eastern Resistance Committees”. Sudan”.

However, the influential High Council of Beja Nazirs and independent leaders and local resistance committees stressed that they had neither participated nor been involved in the preparation of the conference.

Critical

The Port Sudan Resistance Committees said in a statement on Wednesday that they did not attend the conference.

The grassroots committees viewed the conference as “a circumvention of the problems of eastern Sudan” and explained that they believed the conference was being used “for the purposes of a few people exchanging the demands of the peoples of the east”.

“Critical issues in eastern Sudan belong to its people and should not be discussed in isolation, without involving the people in dialogue and decision-making,” they said.

“The resistance committees and most other political and civil society groups have nothing to do with the preparation of the conference” – Jaafar Khidir

Jaafar Khidir, an El Gedaref activist, criticized the conference on Wednesday. “This is an attempt to seek a foothold in authority after reaching a settlement that will keep the putschists in power,” he said in an interview with Radio Dabanga’s Sudan Today program.

“The resistance committees and most other political and civil society groups have nothing to do with the preparation of the conference”, he said and accused the Sudanese authorities of “manipulating the problems of the eastern Sudan and some of its civil and political leaders in order to stay in power”.

Khidir instead called for the holding of “grassroots conferences in all parts of eastern Sudan […] to solve the real problems, such as the sharing of power and wealth, and to develop projects to compensate for the marginalization of several decades”.

He further stressed the need for all Eastern Sudanese to unite in order to reverse the coup and establish a civil and democratic state.

Council Beja nazirs

Earlier this week, Radio Dabanga reported that the High Council of Beja Nazirs and independent leaders refused to attend the conference as they oppose the Eastern Sudan Track protocol.

The Beja nazirs council has opposed the eastern Sudan track since it was first agreed by the Sudanese government and the Sudanese Revolutionary Front rebel alliance in South Sudan’s capital Juba in February 2020 under the Juba Peace Agreement.

The track was negotiated by the Congress of Beja in opposition and the United Popular Front for Liberation and Justice. The High Council of Beja Nazirs and Independent Leaders was not involved in the Juba peace talks.

Last month, the High Council of Beja Nazirs and Independent Leaders warned of the disastrous consequences of any political settlement in which the eastern Sudanese are not involved. They also pointed out that at least 39 Beja council supporters have been killed in the last two years of protests against the Eastern Sudan Track.

* A nazir is a state-appointed administrative head of a tribe, according to the system of indigenous administration in Sudan.

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