The Republic of Sudan and its neighbour, South Sudan, have agreed on a permanent ceasefire to ensure sustainable peace in both countries.
The Sudanese Ambassador to Nigeria, Ibrahim Bushra, made this known in a statement in Abuja on Sunday.
He said that the agreement was the outcome of a meeting between leaders of the both country on ways to resolve their conflict.
According to the envoy, President Salva Kir of South Sudan and Ahmed El-Bashir of the Republic of Sudan jointly signed the agreement.
He said that the agreement contained clauses as “a permanent ceasefire is hereby declared throughout the Republic of Sudan and shall enter into force within 72 hours of signing of the declaration of agreement.
‘‘The permanent ceasefire shall be based on cessation of hostilities agreement signed on Dec. 21, 2017 and within 72 hours of signing the declaration of agreement.
‘‘The parties shall agree on ceasefire agreement including disengagement, separation of forces in close proximity, withdrawal of allied-troops, opening of humanitarian corridors and release of prisoners of war and political detainees.
‘‘All relevant provisions of the Agreement on Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan shall apply; unless it is agreed otherwise, the parties shall agree on self-monitoring mechanism.
‘‘Furthermore, Inter-Governmental Authority for Development and African Union member-states are kindly invited to deploy the necessary forces to supervise the agreed permanent ceasefire.’’
Mr Bushra said that an agreement on the “revised bridging” proposal would be concluded before closure of the Khartoum round of talks.
He also disclosed that after the conclusion of the agreement, a pre-transitional period of 120 days would commence and would be followed by transitional period of 36 months.
‘‘Sharing power during the transitional period shall be in accordance with the formula that shall be agreed in the revised bridging proposal,’’ he added.
The warring sides in South Sudan accused each other of launching attacks that killed 18 civilians and violated the latest peace deal aimed at ending the nearly five-year-old conflict.
Lul Ruai Koang, spokesman for the government military SPLA said rebels attacked Maban in Upper Nile state in the far northeast near the border with Sudan on Sunday.
Government forces responded and in the battle rebels killed 18 civilians and wounded 44, he said. The dead included three Ethiopians and two Sudanese.
“The area is tense and the bodies have been buried,” he said. “People have not yet gone back to their homes. The area is deserted.”
Lam Paul Gabriel, deputy spokesman for the opposition SPLA-IO said their forces had been “heavily bombarded” by the military in the Maban area on Sunday and denied attacking civilians, saying: “It is not the policy of SPLM-IO to attack civilians.”
South Sudan’s civil war
South Sudan was plunged into war in 2013 after a political disagreement between President Salva Kiir and his former vice President Riek Machar exploded into a military confrontation.
The fighting has uprooted about a quarter of the country’s 12 million population, slashed oil production and ruined the economy.
A peace pact last week that included a ceasefire that took effect on Saturday was the second attempt by regional mediators to try to end the war after a deal in 2015 failed.
The case of Noura Hussein, the 19-year old Sudanese woman who killed her husband after he had raped her, and was subsequently sentenced to death herself, drew a staggering international outcry. But now, the death penalty has been withdrawn, and Noura’s case has led to what looks like a significant legal milestone for rights of women in Sudan.
Noura Hussein was 16 when she was forced into an engagement with Abdulrahman Mohamed Hammad, a man 16 years older than her. Hammad had reportedly approached her father about marrying her when she was much younger, and still a high-school student.
However, Noura insisted that she wanted to finish her education in order to qualify as a teacher. Yet her family insisted she marry Hammad, so Noura fled to a relative’s house in eastern Sudan to escape the marriage. She later said that the idea of the marriage had led her to contemplate suicide. She stayed there until April 2017, when her family called her to tell her that they had cancelled the marriage agreement, and she could come home. But when she returned, she found that she had been tricked, and was forced to undergo the wedding ceremony.
Hating herself after rape!
Noura refused to have sex with her new husband for several days. She tried to escape the flat one night, but found the door locked. After several days, her repeated refusal to have sex was followed by a brutal rape. It involved Hammad’s two brothers and his cousin holding her down as Hammad raped her. Her mother later told the press that Noura had “hated herself” after the rape.
But when Hammad tried to force himself on her again the next day, Noura stabbed him several times, reportedly with a knife kept under her pillow. Her mother said that she had been keeping the knife in order to stab herself if Hammad tried to rape her again. But in the struggle, it was Hammad who was stabbed to death.
Noura panicked and told her family what she had done. They went to the police to explain, but Noura was arrested and imprisoned. In May 2018, a Sharia court in Khartoum sentenced her to death by hanging, despite her attorney’s plea that she had acted in self-defence. The father of the deceased Hammad, interviewed in a Sudanese newspaper, insisted that Noura had consented to the marriage, and that her crime was one of pre-meditated murder. Yet her attorney’s plea for a medical examination to prove the rape was rejected twice by the court.
International NGOs soon joined the campaign as well, and organisations such as the EU offered their support. Soon, celebrities such as Naomi Campbell and Emma Watson were taking part in an online campaign with the hashtag #justiceforNoura. A petition to the Sudan Government to spare Noura the death penalty received over 1.5 million signatures.
And it seems to have worked. On June 27th 2018, Noura’s death sentence was overturned in a court of appeal in Khartoum. Instead, she was sentenced to five years in prison, and a fine of 337500 Sudanese Pounds. Al Bawaba spoke to Judy Gitau Nkuranga, a Nairobi-based human rights lawyer with the charity Equality Now, one of the leading organisations in the Justice for Noura campaign. Ms Gitau Nkuranga believes that this ruling marked a significant legal precedent for women’s rights in Sudan:
“We feel this case marks a turning point in Sudanese jurisprudence on cases of women and girls who have been victims of sexual violence. This is because the advocacy around Noura’s case brought to the world’s attention to the fact that it is still ‘legal’ in Sudan to marry a girl as young as 10 years of age. This is unacceptable and the advocacy and the global campaign on the case made sure the Sudanese government, including their courts system, heard this message loud and clear.
It is our observation that the court was mostly persuaded by a robust appeal which was filed by Noura’s lawyers, as supported by human rights organizations coupled with a meticulous campaign that brought the case and the unfair laws underpinning it to the global stage. The courts were placed under pressure to do justice not only in their own eyes but through the eyes of the millions who were waiting and watching.”
” The courts were placed under pressure to do justice not only in their own eyes but through the eyes of the millions who were waiting and watching.”
For human rights organisations, this is considered only a partial victory. They have argued that five years in prison and a large fine, paid to the family of the deceased, is still too high a price to pay for Noura Hussein’s act of self-defence. Moreover, there will still be a great deal of conservative resistance to changes to child marriage laws, or to outlawing marital rape. But at least for Noura herself, the announcement of her death sentence being withdrawn was a truly happy moment. Nkuranga added:
“Our partner on the ground tells us Noura was elated and happy on receiving the news of the appeal. The surrounding prisoners spontaneously burst into celebration as well.”