This is the fourth in a series of rapid response updates by the Rift Valley Institute for the UK government’s XCEPT (Cross-Border Conflict Evidence, Policy and Trends) programme. You can visit the previous series updates; ‘What Next for the Juba Peace Agreement?’, ‘What Next for the Juba Peace Agreement? Evolving political and security dynamics in Darfur’ and What’s Next for the Juba Peace Agreement? Evolving Political and Security Dynamics in the Two Areas.

Key points:

  • A complex and interrelated set of historical and communal grievances involving issues of identity, livelihood, and political exclusion are driving the current instability in eastern Sudan, which has received markedly less attention than other conflict-affected areas (see Rapid Response briefings on Darfur and the Two Areas).
  • In eastern Sudan, the transitional government’s peace process, which resulted in the Juba Peace Agreement (JPA), ended up exacerbating rather than resolving intercommunal tensions. The primary point of contention in the east was that it did not include representation from all of its communities, and the JPA apportioned a significant amount of the region’s political representation to its signatories.
  • As such, the transitional government and the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) created a new set of political and ethnic grievances that they were never able to address, and which the Mil-TG (military component of the transitional government) could then exploit to their benefit.
  • In the run-up to the October 2021 coup, the Mil-TG looked to exploit communal differences in eastern Sudan by securing the allegiance of the Beja community, which was at odds with the Civ-TG (civilian component of the transitional government) over the JPA, with a promise to renegotiate the JPA’s Eastern Track.
  • Since the coup, the Mil-TG has been unable to follow through on its promise to the Beja community or address broader grievances. These community grievances continue to fester, and the prospect for increased social harmony in the near future is limited.