The Khartoum-SPLM Agreement: Sudan's Uncertain Peace
The Khartoum-SPLM Agreement: Sudan's Uncertain Peace
Table of Contents
  1. Executive Summary
Report / Africa 3 minutes

The Khartoum-SPLM Agreement: Sudan's Uncertain Peace

The January 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) formally ended war between the Khartoum government and the insurgent Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), Africa’s longest civil conflict.

Executive Summary

The January 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) formally ended war between the Khartoum government and the insurgent Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), Africa's longest civil conflict. Yet as SPLM Chairman John Garang was sworn in as 1st Vice-President on 9 July, implementation lags badly. The main obstacles are the old regime's lack of will to embrace genuine power sharing and elections, and ultimately allow a southern self-determination referendum after the six-year interim period and lack of capacity in the South to establish and empower basic structures of governance. To keep the accords on track, the international community must focus on broadening participation and transparency, particularly handling of oil revenues, promote SPLM dialogue with the government-allied militias and quickly deploy the UN peace support mission, whose monitoring operations will be key to breaking the links between Khartoum and those southern proxies.

The peace deal poses a real threat to many groups associated with the National Congress Party (NCP) regime, which signed the CPA under some duress both to deflect international pressure over Darfur and to strengthen its domestic power base by securing a partnership with the SPLM. Most members recognise the free and fair elections required in 2009 would likely remove them from power. Many also fear the self-determination referendum will produce an independent South, thus costing Khartoum much of its oil and other mineral wealth. There are signs the NCP seeks to undercut implementation through its use of the militias (the South Sudan Defence Forces, SSDF), bribery, and through the tactics of divide and rule. It actively encourages hostility between southern groups, with the hope that intra-south fighting will prove sufficiently destabilising that the referendum can be postponed indefinitely without its being blamed. These tactics will likely intensify if pressure over Darfur diminishes.

If the SPLM is to do its part in preventing an eventual breakdown of the CPA and return to war, it must make fundamental shifts in the way it operates. It has struggled, however, in its transition from a rebel movement to a political party, indeed to the point that its lack of inclusiveness and transparent decision-making has mirrored in some ways its long-time foe's approach to governance. It is far behind its timetable for converting its guerrillas into a new army and has made little progress in creating institutional structures of governance and changing overly centralised methods of taking decisions, weaknesses that have been compounded by lack of money. There is growing frustration as early expectations of the peace have not been met.

The SPLM leadership must begin to democratise its movement and empower the nascent civil institutions of the new Government of Southern Sudan. The South-South Dialogue with southern political opposition groups launched in Nairobi in April was a positive step, but the late June negotiations with the SSDF fell short of an agreement. The recently concluded National Constitutional Review Commission failed to bring in most of the main northern opposition parties -- they boycotted it as rigged in favour of the NCP and the SPLM -- as well as the armed groups from the east and west.

Recent deals signed by the SPLM to develop oil concessions in the South violate the CPA, have generated considerable criticism both from the government and within the SPLM itself, and should be scrapped. Given that Khartoum's approach to oil has long been even more problematic, it is urgent to create the National Petroleum Commission called for in the CPA's Wealth Sharing Agreement so it can review all contracts signed in the past year. The CPA has no mechanism, however, for rapidly resolving disputes that have arisen over North-South boundaries in the oil areas and that promise at least to delay disbursement of oil revenue the Government of Southern Sudan vitally needs to meet its CPA commitments. International actors, including the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the U.S. and the UK, should work with the parties to immediately form a commission to delimit those boundaries.

Nairobi/Brussels, 25 July 2005

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