[dehai-news] (UN_IRIN) SUDAN: Lingering uncertainties over North-South truce

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From: Biniam Tekle (biniamt@dehai.org)
Date: Mon Jan 12 2009 - 10:48:26 EST

SUDAN: Lingering uncertainties over North-South truce

JUBA, 12 January 2009 (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.

"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

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

"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

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

The resolution of the Abyei
<http://irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=78430>situation, demarcation
of the border and passage of the referendum
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

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.

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