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Lingering uncertainties over North-South truce

"There is nothing like home" says the banner on this truck returning Southern Sudanese from Uganda.
(Neil Thomas/IRIN)

Four years after a peace agreement ended years of conflict between North and Southern Sudan, slow implementation of key provisions has raised fears that overall progress could stall.



"The major issue is the border demarcation," said Wol Deng Atak, a lawmaker in Southern Sudan. "Then, there is the issue of Abyei and the elections."



The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed on 9 January 2005 in Nairobi. It ended two decades of civil war that left millions dead and displaced, and reduced much of Southern Sudan to rubble.



The accord provided for a six-year interim period during which the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) would join the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) to form a government of national unity.



The SPLM also set up a government in the South, while a census was scheduled to be held across the country ahead of presidential, parliamentary and state legislative elections in 2009. In 2011, a referendum on Southern independence is planned.



The census was completed in 2008 and results have yet to be released, but some southerners are already contesting the outcome. The logistical challenges of an election were also threatening to derail the process, Refugees International warned in a report.



"We were expecting go to get the census results in December," said Atak. "December is gone. Elections are near as you see, and constituencies have not been demarcated."



A key sticking point in the CPA is the status of oil-rich Abyei. The region was granted special administrative status and given the option to decide in a referendum in 2011 whether to join the South.












SPLA soldiers redeploy south from the Abyei area in line with the road map to resolve the Abyei crisis. Sudan. June 2008.

Timothy Mckulka/UNMIS
SPLA soldiers redeploy south from the Abyei area in line with the road map to resolve the Abyei crisis. Sudan. June 2008.
http://www.irinnews.org/photo
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Lingering uncertainties over North-South truce
SPLA soldiers redeploy south from the Abyei area in line with the road map to resolve the Abyei crisis. Sudan. June 2008.


Photo: Timothy Mckulka/UNMIS
SPLA soldiers redeploy south from the Abyei area in line with the road map to resolve the Abyei crisis in 2008 (file photo)

"Four years into the CPA's six-year interim period, the ceasefire holds... a new government of Southern Sudan is financed from oil wealth [and] former adversaries share power in a government of national unity," a report by the London-based think-tank Chatham House stated. "But the CPA's flaws are now conspicuous."



According to the 9 January report, the parties to the CPA have sought military guarantees to preserve gains, using oil wealth to build armies. Delays in preparations for elections have also created complex challenges.



Challenges



The fourth anniversary of the CPA was marked on 9 January at a ceremony in Malakal town. Earlier, Sudanese First Vice-President and President of the Government of Southern Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit painted a relatively rosy picture.



"As we begin contemplating life in the new year, it is equally important to look back and assess what we have achieved as citizens and institutions in 2008," Kiir told the nation in a new year's message.



"One important achievement is that we managed to maintain peace and stability through the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. If we reflect back to those days before CPA, we can say for sure that we are now more peaceful and secure."



The UN Mission in Sudan, in a message to mark the day, commended the parties to the CPA but warned of challenges ahead, including the elections, border demarcation and demobilisation. It called for redoubled commitment from the parties and the international community.



SPLM sources complain that the ruling party has ignored laws on press freedom, civil rights and national security ahead of the elections. Besides, they ask, can a credible poll be conducted without the border being demarcated?



The resolution of the Abyei situation, demarcation of the border and passage of the referendum law are all pending issues.



"Many interlinked critical processes are bunched at the end of the interim period [from January 2009 to July 2011]," according to Chatham House. "Delays to implementation have made the schedules for the next two years hectic."












[Sudan] Salva Kiir Mayardit at a news conference in Khartoum on 5 September 2005. [Date picture taken: 09/05/2005]

Vice-President Salva Kiir Mayardit's new year message was optimistic (file photo)...
Derk Segaar/IRIN
[Sudan] Salva Kiir Mayardit at a news conference in Khartoum on 5 September 2005. [Date picture taken: 09/05/2005]
http://www.irinnews.org/
Monday, October 24, 2005
Lingering uncertainties over North-South truce
[Sudan] Salva Kiir Mayardit at a news conference in Khartoum on 5 September 2005. [Date picture taken: 09/05/2005]


Photo: Derk Segaar/IRIN
Vice-President Salva Kiir Mayardit's new year message was optimistic (file photo)

The CPA, it noted, did not take Darfur into account. While the CPA was not meant to tackle the Darfur conflict, it was meant as a forerunner to a parallel Darfur agreement.



Analysts say Darfur affects the South in other ways. With war in Darfur it would be difficult to conduct credible elections.



On the plus side



Still, say analysts, much was achieved in the past year - probably more than in 2007. Northern troops, for example, have withdrawn from the South, except in some contested border areas.



Last year, North-South guns were still pointed at one another in the border regions. The CPA, which created two separate armies, had provided that the 91,000 northern troops withdraw from the South by 9 July 2007.



The agreement also provided for the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) to redeploy north of the 1956 border in five steps and withdraw forces from the South in phases - by 14 percent within a year, 19 percent within a year-and-a-half and 22 percent within two years.



The rest would be withdrawn by 9 July 2007. Sources, however, say about 18,000 northern troops were still in oil-rich areas by January 2007.



As a result, the 2008 celebrations took place against the backdrop of accusations from the south that the SAF was amassing troops in Southern Kordofan, as well as in Blue Nile and Abyei.



The Abyei region has, however, been relatively calm since May, as the region awaits the outcome of a referral to international arbitration at The Hague - a development that has raised prospects yet of a peaceful settlement.



Chatham House called on the international community to "recommit urgently" to help implement the CPA. Failure, it warned, could lead to the sort of breakdown seen in war-torn Darfur.



Local leaders in Southern Sudan say relative calm has allowed them to begin to focus on health, education, other social services and meeting the resettlement needs of returnees.



"Many of our population is still not resettled," Rose Bako, a member of the Southern Sudanese parliament, told IRIN in Juba.



bdm/eo/am/mw

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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