Sudan’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement: The Long Road Ahead
Sudan’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement: The Long Road Ahead
Table of Contents
  1. Executive Summary
A Breakthrough in Sudan’s Impasse?
A Breakthrough in Sudan’s Impasse?
Report 106 / Africa

Sudan’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement: The Long Road Ahead

More than a year after it was signed, Sudan’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) is showing signs of strain. While the agreement ended one of Africa’s longest and bloodiest civil wars, it was an agreement between only two parties, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) and the ruling National Congress Party (NCP), and continues to lack broader support throughout the country, particularly in the North.

Executive Summary

More than a year after it was signed, Sudan’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) is showing signs of strain. While the agreement ended one of Africa’s longest and bloodiest civil wars, it was an agreement between only two parties, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) and the ruling National Congress Party (NCP), and continues to lack broader support throughout the country, particularly in the North. The current equation for peace in Sudan is a worrying one: the NCP has the capacity to implement but lacks the political will, whereas the SPLM has the commitment but is weak and disorganised. There is a real risk of renewed conflict down the road unless the NCP begins to implement the CPA in good faith, and the SPLM becomes a stronger and more effective implementing partner. The international community, which has largely abandoned the political engagement and commitment that was so crucial to achieving the peace agreement in the first place, must forcefully reengage with the process to ensure the agreement’s successful implementation.

The implementation process has been an uphill battle, with the NCP exploiting the gaps within the CPA and the weaknesses of its junior partner, the SPLM, to delay and frustrate the process. Following the death of SPLM Chairman Dr. John Garang in July 2005, the SPLM vision has blurred, and the NCP has abandoned its strategy for a political partnership with the SPLM. It is increasingly clear that if this does not change soon, then all peaceful paths forward in Sudan – full implementation of the CPA, comprehensive political solutions to the conflicts in Darfur and the East – will likely lead to eventual regime change and an ousting of the NCP either via free and fair elections, or by simply whittling away its control of the structures of government to a minority stake.

Under growing pressure, the NCP is attempting to manage all these challenges to ensure its own political survival. It has largely succeeded in keeping the international community at bay over Darfur by facilitating increased chaos on the ground and promoting divisions within the rebels. It is achieving a similar containment of the international community on the CPA by selectively implementing elements of the agreement without allowing for any weakening of its grip on power or fundamental change in the way the country is governed. Yet these strategies are not sustainable, and will ultimately lead to renewed or increased conflict. The NCP must begin to implement the agreement in good faith to help assure its political future in a peaceful Sudan by making partnership an attractive option to the SPLM, and unity an attractive option to southern Sudanese.

The SPLM is facing enormous challenges which are severely undermining its ability to function as an effective partner in government. The SPLM faces two simultaneous tasks: as the lead party in the new autonomous Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS), and the minority partner in the new Government of National Unity (GNU)[fn]According to the CPA, the SPLM controls 70 per cent of the appointed positions in the GoSS until elections, the NCP 10 per cent, and other southern parties the remaining 20 per cent. At the level of the GNU, the NCP maintains 52 per cent of the appointed positions, the SPLM 28 per cent, other northern parties 14 per cent, and other southern parties 6 per cent. The SPLM must also establish 10 new state governments in the South (where it will maintain its 70 per cent control, with 20 per cent going to the NCP and 10 per cent to other parties), and fill 45 per cent of the positions in the state governments of Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan, and 20 per cent in all other northern state governments.
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. Wracked by internal divisions and contradictions, and with no functional party structures or party decision-making mechanisms from mid-July 2005 through late February 2006, the SPLM has been completely overwhelmed thus far, unable to successfully or consistently challenge the NCP on most issues relating to implementation. This is most apparent in Khartoum, where the minority SPLM controls only a handful of Ministerial or State Ministerial positions, as well as the 1st Vice-President position, but does not yet have any members integrated into the national civil service or other national institutions. As a result, it has been losing an uphill battle to implement the CPA and begin to change the policies of a government that still faces active civil wars in the East and West.

The SPLM is faring better in the South, as the GoSS slowly inches forward in the face of enormous physical and structural challenges. The 8 January Juba Declaration to integrate the bulk of the government-aligned southern armed groups operating within the umbrella South Sudan Defence Forces (SSDF) into the SPLA will help consolidate peace in the South, though implementation of the agreement will be difficult. Yet the GoSS is also facing some acute threats, most noticeably from the lack of progress on reorganising the SPLA into a professional army, and the extended delays in paying its troops and civil servants. These delays are creating an environment exploited by the Ugandan rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), which is allegedly still receiving support from the Sudan Armed Forces and has significantly expanded its activities in Western Equatoria, threatening to become a home-grown Sudanese problem.

However, there are early signs that the SPLM is beginning to overcome some of its internal challenges and refocus its efforts on implementation of the CPA. Without a functioning and effective SPLM, there is little chance that the CPA will hold.

In the face of all of this, the international community has remained largely silent. Heavy on monitoring but weak on follow-through, the international community – particularly the key countries involved in the negotiation of the CPA – has not yet embraced its role as a guarantor of the CPA, and continues to lack a consistent, coordinated approach to dealing with the parties, particularly the NCP, let alone holding them to their respective commitments. More consistent, proactive and forceful engagement by the international community is another required ingredient to see this agreement peacefully through the pitfalls that lie ahead.

Nairobi/Brussels, 31 March 2006

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