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Trivia and Discussion Guide: Implementing Peace in Sudan

A discussion guide on how to put peace on the ground in Sudan…

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement
5 years on…

Trivia Question:
Give the month and year that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement assigned to the following benchmarks to be implemented:
1) The national census
2) The national election
3) The referendum on Southern independence

Discussion Guide:

How does the international community help a peace deal to actually achieve peace?

Sudan’s government has signed the “Comprehensive Peace Agreement”, the “Darfur Peace Agreement”, and the “Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement”. But so far, South Sudan, Darfur, and East Sudan have seen more insecurity than peace. The critical question is why, and how that equation can change – and a couple of key sub-questions is implementation: how can the international community ensure that all the partners involved in these peace agreement actually implement the agreements they’ve signed? And even if all parties follow the letter of the agreements, will that actually bring peace?

For the purpose of this discussion and given the recent 5th anniversary of the CPA, this Discussion Guide will focus on the CPA:

Key facts on the CPA

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) is the landmark peace deal that in 2005 brought an end to Africa’s longest civil war: the civil war between the Government of Sudan in the North and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army in the South. It consisted of the following elements:

  • Power-Sharing Agreement:
    • There is to be 6 years of power-sharing between the North and South through the formation of a Government of National Unity in Khartoum
    • At the same time, during these 6 years, there is to be a semi-autonomous Government of Southern Sudan set up to administer Southern Sudan
    • In 2008, there is to be a national census to take into account the
    • In July 2009, there is to be a national election for national positions (such as President of Sudan), local positions (such as local members of parliament and governors), and Southern Sudanese positions (such as President of Southern Sudan)
    • In January 2011, there will be a referendum on whether or not Southern Sudanese wish to secede from the rest of Sudan to form an independent state
  • Wealth-Sharing Agreement: the CPA calls for more equitable sharing of Sudan’s oil wealth, 75% of which comes from the South and 15% of which comes from the disputed area of Abyei.
  • Border Demarcation: an independent border commission will be established to assess and demarcate the border between Northern and Southern Sudan, which must negotiate a region of highly-contested oil-rich lands.
  • Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile: two areas that lie between North and South Sudan that are contentious have somewhat separately arranged their own versions of power and wealth sharing, with a rotating governorship of the two regions between the GoS and GoSS. There will also be a “popular consultation” process included for the two regions.
  • Abyei:. Abyei is an oil-rich region that was has been so contentious that a separate deal had to be signed, which detailed that:
    • An independent Abyei Border Committee would demarcate the borders around Abyei
    • Abyei would be jointly administered by North and South over the interim period
    • If the South decides to secede, Abyei will then be able to choose if it joins the South or North

Key Players and perspectives

  • The Government of Sudan (GoS): GoS, dominated by the National Congress Party has much to lose in the course of implementing the CPA:
    • The referendum: South Sudan is not the only marginalized area of Sudan to have rebelled against the GoS: Nuba, Darfur, Beja are some of the many places where marginalized areas have mobilized for rights and recognition. If the South secedes successfully, GoS fears that these other areas may get the message that they will be capable of doing the same
    • The National elections: the national elections are life-and-death for Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir. He has been indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court, and if he loses power, a new government could turn him over to the Court for trial. The NCP will do whatever it takes to stay in power. However, if there is one thing that GoS wants, it is legitimacy, and this election is its chance to prove to the world it is a legitimate government.
    • Border demarcation and wealth sharing: the north has very few natural resources of its own, and is determined to control as much of the oil-rich territory along the border in case the South decides to secede.
  • The Government of Southern Sudan: GoSS is dominated by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), theSouthern rebel movement which fought the North during the civil war. The SPLM’s greatest achievement is forcing GoS to sign the CPA, and its reputation rests on the CPA’s successful implementation. But the SPLM has some conflicting issues:
    • The referendum: the SPLM supports the vision of a “New Sudan”, where the South stays united with the North and reforms country into a secular democracy. However the Southern Sudanese people have overwhelmingly given up on this idea, and support independence
    • The national elections: if the SPLM puts forward a legitimate candidate for president and s/he wins, it may be seen as betraying the Southerners’ wish for independence. However if the SPLM doesn’t put forward a legitimate candidate for the president, it will be betraying its original vision of a “New Sudan”
    • The local elections: the SPLM is a political party formed out of an armed movement, which means that most of its members are former military and not trained for political office. Also, currently, no one has been elected to a position and instead has been appointed, and many are facing charges of incompetence and corruption. Successful local elections will mean that for the first time SLPM representatives will have to face the judgment of their constituents, in which many could lose their office
    • Border demarcation and wealth sharing: almost all of the budget for the young GoSS comes from oil revenues, so it is of upmost importance to the GoSS that it maintains control over as much of the oil wealth as possible, particularly since most of the oil wealth is in the South
  • IGAD Sub-Committee on Sudan (Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda): these states are some of South Sudan’s neighbors and have a regional stake in the successful implementation of the CPA: insecurity in Sudan will spill (and has spilled) over into their borders, and they have political stakes in either a unified or divided Sudan
  • Observer States: (Italy, Norway, UK, and US): these foreign states invested significant political and financial capitol in negotiating the CPA. These states should have the largest stake in seeing the successful implementation of the CPA, but over the years attention has been turned elsewhere to issues such as “the war on terror” or, closer to home, the crisis in Darfur that erupted in 2003.

Road blocks: protocols that have been unimplemented, delayed, or violated

  • The Abyei protocol: the most volatile area, Abyei is an area between North and South Sudan that is rich in oil and therefore hotly contested. The CPA imposed a ceasefire on Abyei, which has been violated numerous times, particularly the May 2008 when a clash between the SPLA and the Government of Sudan displaced 90,000 people, the entire population of Abyei
  • North-South Border demarcation: an independent expert is supposed to mark the border between the North and the South, which is controversial because it determines who gets control over critical oil resources. This process has been delayed and disputed and remains unresolved
  • Joint-Integrated Units: the Government of Sudan and the SPLA are supposed to have formed joint military units designed for contested or controversial areas. However, instead of working together, the two forces have clashed in Malakal, a Southern Sudanese town close to oil reserves.
  • The census: the census was marked with incredible controversy, delay, and flaws in implementation. The census results were actually rejected by the South when they came out, who alleged that the North had made the Southern population smaller than it truly was in order to gain political advantages.
  • The election: according to an ENOUGH briefing: “Daunting legal and logistical obstacles currently impede the electoral process. The National Elections Act, enacted in July 2008—more than two years after the date agreed to in the CPA—is vague on the policies and procedures for the elections and draft regulations have yet to be finalized. The National Assembly recently adopted highly questionable reforms to the Press and Media Law, and it has yet to amend the National Security Act, a law that bears directly on the safeguarding of civil liberties during the electoral process. Voter registration remains an enormous logistical challenge, as it will now be held during the rainy season, a time when most of the rural and remote areas of Sudan are largely inaccessible by road. With less than nine months remaining before the polling period begins, 20 million potential voters must be registered in a voter registration process that has not yet commenced. These voters, the majority of whom are illiterate and many of whom have never voted before, will then be asked to complete a complex and confusing series of ballots, casting their vote in local, regional, and national elections.”
  • The referendum: again, according to an ENOUGH publication, “The consistent delays and lack of transparency in the electoral process have set a precedent that bodes poorly for timely organization of the referendum. The referendum law is unlikely to pass in Sudan’s National Assembly before the general elections, which opens the possibility of the NCP using a new and perhaps northern-dominated body to manipulate provisions of the CPA and further forestall the referendum. Elections would then give way to an increasingly tense and potentially explosive period: the “homestretch” between the elections and the referendum.”
  • Wealth-sharing: there have been many allegations that the GoS is not giving GoSS its fair share of oil revenues, contributing to significant budget shortfalls in Southern Sudan, which desperately needs funds for reconstruction and for setting up a brand new government.

Key Questions

  • What is at stake for the different parties? Whose interests are put at risk by successful implementation of the CPA? Whose interests are served by the CPA?
  • What might be key pressure points that could be used to get different parties to implement parts of the agreement they wouldn’t be inclined to?
  • What are some potential outcomes of the 2010 elections? What effect might those have on power-sharing arrangements and the referendum?
  • What are some likely and unlikely partnerships that could be formed for implementation? What international or local partners might be slowing down the process?
  • What flash points might come up that could cause the process to derail? What are the most important benchmarks that need to be observed to ensure that the CPA is implemented?
  • If there is a failure of implementation, what might happen?
  • How can the international community act to reduce the potential harm if the CPA fails? How should the international community respond to an increase in insecurity or a return to civil war? How should the United States be prepared to respond to a potential increase in violence in South Sudan?
  • What role can the United States play in ensuring the implementation of the CPA? What would you advise the Obama administration to do to ensure the CPA stays on track?
  • Even if the CPA is implemented successfully, what issues can you foresee still facing Sudan?


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