5 years ago today, the 9th of January of 2005, Africa’s longest civil war came to an end: the armed and political giants of North and South Sudan signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Naivasha, Kenya.
5 years later, the 9th of January of 2010, none of the words in the title “Comprehensive Peace Agreement” have shown themselves on the ground:
Although it is the anniversary of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, comprehensive is not a word that should be used to describe the extent of peace in Sudan.
Two other peace agreements currently hang in limbo as well: the Darfur Peace Agreement signed in 2006 and the Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement. Not one of them has seen full implementation; marginalization, underdevelopment, and insecurity remain the norm in South Sudan, Darfur, Abyei, the Nuba Mountains, Eastern Sudan, and countless other parts of Africa’s largest country.
Sudan is far from peaceful, far from post-conflict – in fact, looking at the headlines about Sudan over the past month alone, the picture that those headlines paint is one of insecurity:
10 aid agencies just released a report called, “Rescuing Peace in Southern Sudan”, warning that unless the international community acts quickly, Sudan risks descending into civil war once again, and summarizing the extent of this year’s violence: 2009 saw the death of 2,500 civilians and the displacement of 350,000 more. These are not the statistics one sees from a country at peace with itself.
As if to highlight the report, two days after it was issued, at least 140 people were killed in trial clashes between the Nuer and Dinka tribes. It is just one of a string of such clashes this year: Doctors Without Borders responded to 8 violent clashes itself, according to its report “South Sudan: Facing up to Reality”. The report cited a frustration that everyone is treating Southern Sudan as if it is post-conflict and not investing in emergency response funds, when there is a sharp and urgent need to equip humanitarian organizations and the local authorities for emergency response.
On top of all of this, the World Health Organization declared Southern Sudan to be the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, far surpassing Darfur.
2009 also saw a widening and deepening of divisions within Sudan: President Omar al-Bashir was indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, and responded by expelling 13 of the top aid agencies in Darfur over the summer.
Earlier this month, opposition protests were broken up, with Bashir’s government cracking down and arresting leaders of the SPLM and other civilians.
Critical milestones for fulfilling the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, namely the elections, were postponed again, and again.
Sudan is now exactly a year away from the critical referendum that signifies the end of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement; however given the current trends, the closer Sudan gets to seeing this date, the more instability and insecurity it sees.
And so the world needs to see Sudan for what it is: not a post-conflict country in the process of implementing a peace agreement, but a country barely holding onto the threads of stability in some areas, having already lost the peace in others, and at risk of collapsing back into whole-hearted civil war again.
And in the next year, until the 6th and final anniversary of the CPA, the international community cannot afford to take its eyes off of Sudan.