Sudanese tribes sign peace deal after deadly clashes in Port Sudan

Representatives of the Beni Amer and Nuba tribes in Sudan’s Red Sea state signed a reconciliation deal on Sunday under pressure from the country’s most prominent military commander after clashes that triggered a state of emergency and left at least 16 dead last month.

Sudan is embarking on a three-year transition after the overthrow of former president Omar al-Bashir in April and faces challenges including simmering insecurity in several regions and a deep economic crisis.

The clashes broke out in the country’s main sea gateway of Port Sudan, also used by South Sudan to export oil, shortly after the signing of a power-sharing deal between Sudan’s military and civilian groups.

The Beni Amer and Nuba tribes have also clashed in the past.

Sunday’s deal was signed after General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, a member of Sudan’s new Sovereign Council, threatened to expel both sides from the country if they refused to commit to reconciliation.

“If you didn’t agree, I swear to Almighty God that we will deport both (sides),” Dagalo, also known by his nickname Hemedti, said at a ceremony on Port Sudan, eliciting loud applause from the audience of locals and army and government officials.

“We need a radical solution to the problem. Its cause is the existence of outlaws and weapons. Anybody should be accountable, no one is above law.”

Hemedti, who is also head of the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, asked both sides to surrender their illegal weapons “tonight” and vowed to work on solving the lack of water and electricity supplies in the state.

After tribal representatives signed the deal, Hemedti apologised for his earlier tough language.

“We are in a new era of real change,” he said. “We need to move our country towards citizenship and the rule of law and peaceful coexistence.”

The Sovereign Council is the highest body in a transitional structure that includes a technocratic government named this week.