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Sudan Peace Process - 1993-2011

Since 1993, the leaders of Eritrea, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Kenya have pursued a peace initiative for the Sudan under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD), but results have been mixed. Despite that record, the IGAD initiative promulgated the 1994 Declaration of Principles (DOP) that aimed to identify the essential elements necessary to a just and comprehensive peace settlement; i.e., the relationship between religion and the state, powersharing, wealthsharing, and the right of self-determination for the south. The Sudanese Government did not sign the DOP until 1997 after major battle field losses to the SPLA.

In 1995, a coalition of internal and exiled opposition parties in the north and the south created the National Democratic Alliance as an anti-government umbrella group. This development opened a northeastern front to the civil war, making it more than before a center-periphery rather than simply a north-south conflict. The SPLA, DUP, and Umma Parties were the key groups forming the NDA, along with several smaller parties and northern ethnic groups.

Also in 1997, the government signed a series of agreements with rebel factions, led by former Garang Lieutenant Riek Machar, under the banner of "Peace from Within." These included the Khartoum, Nuba Mountains, and Fashoda agreements that ended military conflict between the government and significant rebel factions. Many of those leaders then moved to Khartoum where they assumed marginal roles in the central government, or collaborated with the government in military engagements against the SPLA. These three agreements paralleled the terms and conditions of the IGAD agreement, calling for a degree of autonomy for the south and the right of self-determination.

In July 2000, the Libyan/Egyptian Joint Initiative on the Sudan was mooted, calling for the establishment of an interim government, powersharing, constitutional reform, and new elections. Southern critics objected to the joint initiative because it neglected to address issues of the relationship between religion and the state and failed to mention the right of self-determination. It is unclear to what extent this initiative will have a significant impact on the search for peace, as some critics view it as more aimed at a resolution among northern political parties and protecting the perceived security interests of Egypt in favor of the unity of the Sudan.

In the drought in 2000-01, the U.S. and the international community again responded to avert mass starvation in the Sudan. The U.S. and other donors continue to provide large amounts of humanitarian aid to all parts of the Sudan.

The Government of Sudan (GOS) has used aerial bombardments and helicopter gunships to attack the southern Sudanese civilian population for years. In 1999, there were 65 confirmed aerial bombings of civilians in southern Sudan, however, the number of such attacks more than doubled in 2000 to 132 and tripled in 2001 to 195 confirmed bombings. Most of these attacks occurred in the Bahr el Ghazal, Eastern Equatoria, Southern Blue Nile, and Upper Nile regions.

In addition to the direct threat to non-combatants from these aerial bombings, there are addition humanitarian issues associated with the Government's tactic of bombarding civilian and humanitarian targets. There is a direct relationship between GOS aerial bombardment and GOS flight denials of U.N. Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) humanitarian operations and evacuating staff. Furthermore, GOS aerial bombardments raise significant security concerns with OLS officials that often lead to the UN suspending operations to an insecure area. In addition, the abduction of humanitarian staff and killing of relief workers has a direct relationship to the GOS bombardment of civilian and humanitarian targets because GOS bombardment appears to be part of an overall Government policy on restricting humanitarian access.

In September 2001, former Senator John Danforth was designated Presidential Envoy for Peace in the Sudan. His role is to explore the prospects that the U.S. could play a useful catalytic role in the search for a just end to the civil war, and enhance humanitarian services delivery that can help reduce the suffering of the Sudanese people stemming from war related effects.

In June 2002 a new round of peace negotiations began under IGAD. International observer countries (US, UK, Norway and Italy) were also associated with the talks. The session ended on July 20th when parties signed the Machakos Protocol, which provides a framework for broader negotiations. Key provisions of the Machakos Protocol include a six-year interim period, after which a referendum on self-determination will be held in the South. This will offer a choice between a united Sudan and secession. The parties are also in agreement that Sharia law will continue to be applied only in the North.

During a second round of talks, which started in August 2002, power and wealth sharing were discussed. President Beshir and John Garang, leader of the SPLA held a historic first meeting in Kampala. On October 15th 2002 the Government and the SPLM/A signed an MOU, which called for a complete cessation of hostilities for three months, as well calling for unimpeded humanitarian access. After international pressure and a report by the Civilian Protection and Monitoring Team (CPMT) on fighting in Western Upper Nile, the Government and the SPLM/A agreed in early February 2003 to a number of provisions to strengthen the cessation of hostilities, including the creation of a new international verification and monitoring team.

Talks on security arrangements began early April 2003, The Government included the Southern Sudanese Defence Forces (SSDF) - the umbrella of government aligned militia groups, in its official delegation. A fifth session on the so-called contested areas, Abyei, the Nuba Mountains and Southern Blue Nile, was concluded in May.

The Sudanese government and the rebels, who have been at war for more that two decades, removed one major obstacle toward peace in early January 2004 by signing an accord on wealth sharing. But they have yet to agree on how to share power and territory. Of the two remaining issues, the status of three areas on the border between Sudan's north and south is the most contested. The rebels claim territory in Nuba Mountains, Southern Blue Nile, and Abyei, which are currently part of the north.

On 26 May 2004 the Sudanese government and the main rebel group, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), signed three key protocols in the Kenyan town of Naivasha, bringing them one step closer to a comprehensive peace agreement. The agreement provides for six years of autonomy for the mainly Christian and animist southern Sudan, to be followed by a referendum on the political future of the region.

The deals, which cover power-sharing arrangements and the administration of three contested areas during a six-year interim period, bring to an end direct political negotiations between Sudanese First Vice-President Ali Uthman Muhammad Taha and SPLM/A Chairman John Garang. Technical committees are expected to resume talks to work out methods of implementing the six protocols signed to date and agree on a formula for a permanent ceasefire by mid-July 2004, after which a comprehensive peace agreement will be signed.

But a civil war continued in the Darfur region of western Sudan, where over one million people have been displaced by government-allied militias. Similarly, in the Shilluk Kingdom of Upper Nile, militias have displaced between 50,000 and 150,000 people since February 2004 in clashes over territory and resources.

On November 19, 2004, the Government of Sudan and the SPLM/A signed a declaration committing themselves to conclude a final Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) by December 31, 2004, in the context of an extraordinary session of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in Nairobi, Kenya--only the fifth time the Council had met outside of New York since its founding. At this session, the UNSC unanimously adopted Resolution 1574, which welcomed the commitment of the government and the SPLM/A to achieve agreement by the end of 2004, and underscored the international community’s intention to assist the Sudanese and South Sudanese people and support implementation of the CPA. In keeping with their commitment to the UNSC, the Government of Sudan and the SPLM/A initialed the final elements of the CPA on December 31, 2004. The two parties formally signed the CPA on January 9, 2005. The U.S. and the international community welcomed this decisive step forward for peace.

The 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement [CPA] established a new Government of National Unity and the interim Government of South Sudan and called for wealth sharing, power sharing, and security arrangements between the two parties. The historic agreement provided for a ceasefire, withdrawal of troops from South Sudan, and the repatriation and resettlement of refugees. In addition, it stipulated that by the end of the fourth year of an interim period there would be elections at all levels, including for national and South Sudan president; state governors; and national, South Sudan, and state legislatures. The CPA also mandated that a referendum be held no later than January 2011, giving southerners the opportunity to vote either for unity within Sudan or separation, and that a parallel referendum be held for the people of Abyei to determine whether they wish to remain in the North or join the South.

On July 9, 2005, the presidency was inaugurated with al-Bashir sworn in as President and John Garang, SPLM/A leader, installed as First Vice President of Sudan and President of the Government of Southern Sudan. Ratification of the interim national constitution followed. The constitution declared Sudan to be a “democratic, decentralized, multicultural, multiethnic, multireligious, and multilingual State.” On July 30, 2005, Garang died in a helicopter crash. The SPLM/A named Salva Kiir, Garang’s deputy, as First Vice President of the Government of National Unity and President of the Government of South Sudan.

Provisions of the CPA that were implemented included the formation of the national legislature, appointment of cabinet members, establishment of the Government of South Sudan and the signing of the interim South Sudan constitution, and the appointment of state governors and adoption of state constitutions. The electoral law paving the way for national elections was passed in July 2008. Laws governing the South Sudan and Abyei referenda and the popular consultations in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile were passed in December 2009, and the parties agreed in February 2010 to begin demarcation of the north-south border.

With the establishment of a National Population Census Council, a southern Sudan population census was conducted in April/May 2008 in preparation for national elections. The results from the census were released in early 2009. Elections took place from April 11 to April 15, 2010 and were largely peaceful. However, there were widespread irregularities reported during the polling and counting periods, as well as serious restrictions on political activities in both north and south leading up to and during the elections. The National Congress Party (NCP) and SPLM won the overwhelming majority of the electoral races, and incumbent presidents were elected for the Government of Sudan and the semi-autonomous Government of South Sudan.

The CPA mandated that a referendum be held no later than January 2011, giving southerners the opportunity to vote either for unity within Sudan or separation, and that a parallel referendum be held for the people of Abyei to determine whether they wished to remain in the North or join the South. On January 15, 2011 the week-long unity or cessation South Sudan referendum concluded, and official results were announced on February 7, 2011. More than 3.85 million people--or 97.58% of registered voters--participated, with 98.83% voting for secession according to the final results. During the February 7, 2011 announcement ceremony, the Government of Sudan thanked the international community and issued the following statement: "In accordance with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and the Constitution of 2005, we accept the referendum result, and we renew our commitment to building constructive relations with the new state in the South." On the same day, President Barack Obama congratulated the people of South Sudan, and announced the United States' intent to formally recognize South Sudan as a sovereign, independent state in July 2011. In a separate statement on February 7, 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton congratulated all of Sudan, and signaled the United States would initiate the process of withdrawing Sudan’s state sponsor of terrorism designation.

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Page last modified: 19-09-2012 16:36:18 ZULU