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Archive for January 12th, 2009

Four years on, Sudan partners dance to different tunes

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By FRED OLUOCH
The EastAfrican
Posted Saturday, January 10 2009 at 10:53

Sudan last Friday marked the fourth anniversary of the peace deal that
ended the 21-year civil war, but will the peace deal survive the
remaining two years of the transitional period?

The parties to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed in
Nairobi on January 9, 2005, have been able to implement the larger
parts of the agreement, such as the government of national unity and
the general maintenance of peace.

But sensitive issues such as the Abyei boundary and the oil revenue
threaten the peace deal, raising fears the general election may not be
held on schedule this year.

While both partners — the National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan
Liberation People’s Movement (SPLM)—concur that a return to war would
not be in their best interests, the distrust between them has
contributed to the slowness in implementation of the peace deal.

The ongoing stockpiling of arms by both partners is not helping matters
either.

The South sees Khartoum’s actions as a calculated move to have the
peace deal renegotiated whereas it feels the CPA contains both the
foundation and the mechanisms for lasting peace and does not need to
be renegotiated.

Khartoum, on the other hand, maintains that the resources required for
rehabilitation and reconstruction are beyond the capabilities of the
central government and that of the south, and is blaming the donors
for failing to honour pledges made at the 2005 Oslo Donor Conference.

According to the Sudanese ambassador to Kenya, Majok Guandong, the two
partners have made major achievements in the past four years,
including the establishment of the governments of national unity and
that of the south, and the prevailing peace in the country.

“You don’t expect the effects of the war to be overcome in a short
time. However, the obstacles are being tackled by both partners and we
are confident the agreement will hold,” said Mr Guandong.

Still, the obstacles are greater than the two partners are willing to
accept.

Evidence that the implementation of CPA is not going smoothly, came in
October 2007, when the SPLM suspended its participation in the
government of national unity for two months because the NCP was not
implementing key aspects of the agreement, like disclosing what is due
to the South from the country’s oil revenues.

Although the dispute was later resolved, the underlying difficulties
remain, with the Abyei boundary and the disarmament of armed groups
topping the list.

According to a government statement sent to the The EastAfrican from
Khartoum, peace in Sudan cannot be fully achieved if some actors in
the international community continue to hinder any move towards peace
in Darfur.

“The road to peace and development needs concerted effort by all those
who are concerned. Anybody can trigger war but peace needs true
leadership that minds the interests of the whole country,” the Foreign
Ministry said in a statement.

However, some allies of both sides, who are still armed, feel that
they have not seen any dividend of the peace deal and feel abandoned.

Among the yet to be fulfilled phases of the peace deal are the return
and resettlement of those who were displaced by the civil war,
development projects and creation of an integrated state government
administration.

The CPA was meant to end years of high-handed governance and
marginalisation of certain sections of the country and transform
Sudan’s governance system into an open, transparent, inclusive and
democratic one. Its failure could mean Sudan returning to full-scale
war, with devastating consequences for the entire region.

Still, both parties have contributed in some ways to the slow
implementation of the peace deal.

While the NCP views democratic transformation as contained in the
agreement as a threat to its survival and dominance, the SPLM is
focused on Southern issues leaving Khartoum to deal with the national
agenda.

As with the Somali peace deal, international focus on the
implementation of the peace deal has been lacking, with attention
shifting to Darfur, and of late, the threat by International Criminal
Court to indict President Omar al-Bashir. For instance, power and
wealth sharing have to be spearheaded by Khartoum and pushed forward
by the international guarantors.

According to experts in Sudan, the NCP still wants a partnership but
one that downgrades the SPLM from a national challenger to a purely
South-based junior partner.

Rather than heap the blame on Khartoum, the SPLM needs to reconcile
competing interests within its ranks and insist on transparent
decision-making processes, especially when it comes to procurement.

Secondly, the SPLM rank and file remain divided between those who
favour outright secession come the 2011 referendum and those who
believe in the New Sudan where the SPLM’s Salva Kiir can challenge
President al-Bashir for the national leadership.

Still, Sudan watchers are doubtful whether the election scheduled for
this year will be held, especially with the ICC issue hanging over
president al-Bashir and the fact that the results of the census held
last April — which were to form the basis for redrawing constituencies
for the 2009 elections — are yet to be released.

So far, the government of national unity has appointed the electoral
commission after consultations with all political forces in the
country.

The commission is headed by respected lawyer Abel Alier, a former
vice-president and former head of the High Executive Council for
Southern Sudan. But the voter registration will only start after
President al-Bashir dissolves parliament.

Observers argue that a successful democratic election in Sudan will
not be possible if the international guarantors and the UN remain
disengaged from the CPA, due in part to preoccupation with Darfur and
in part to a lack of consensus on the way forward.

In the meantime, there are suspicions that SPLM — having realised that
it cannot rely on guarantors to force Khartoum to implement the peace
deal in full — is busy building up its military capacity and forging
alliance with marginalised movements and rebel factions within Darfur,
Kordofan, the east and the far north, as a deterrent to the NCP.

Written by torit1955

January 12, 2009 at 3:09 pm