East African Leaders Plan Rescue of Sudan Peace Plan

Published on Tuesday 16th March 2010 East African Leaders Plan Rescue of Sudan Peace Plan

As Sudan prepares for elections next month, regional leaders met in Nairobi to discuss how to save the Comprehensive Peace Agreement from collapse.

There have been doubts whether the remaining phases of the Sudanese peace deal will be implemented in less than nine months as the six-year interim period draws to a close.

Members of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad), which presided over the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), held the first meeting since the signing of the peace deal five years ago.

Among the key outstanding issues are the demarcation of the North-South border, negotiations on post-referendum arrangements, and the completion of the disarmament and redeployment of armed forces, which has seen a rise in skirmishes.

In addition, the two partners -- the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the National Congress Party (NCP) -- appear to have differing opinions over the outstanding issues, even as the coming elections and the 2011 referendum in the South threaten to overshadow future negotiations on the implementation of the remaining phases.

At the Igad conference, observers of Sudanese affairs were anxious that over the next two weeks, there will be a huge focus on next month's elections.

Thereafter, the South will be focused on the 2011 referendum, besides the focus on the registration of those to vote in the Abyei referendum.

According to Igad executive secretary Mahboub Maalim, the pre- and post-referendum scenario has implications for regional peace and security and for the process to move forward, shuttle diplomacy must begin immediately to create trust between the two partners.

In the past five years, there have been several achievements in the implementation of the CPA.

They include the power-sharing arrangements at the national level; the establishment of a government in the South; security has largely improved; the post-conflict reconstruction and infrastructure development in the South has taken off; agreement on increased representation of SPLM at the national level; wealth sharing; the consensus on the 2008 census results and the establishment of a referendum commission.

The CPA had two main principles -- the democratic transformation of the entire Sudan after two decades of war and the self-determination of the South.

But there are questions over whether the April elections will contribute towards the democratisation of Sudan as envisaged in the CPA.

Already, it was clear at the Igad meeting that SPLM and NCP have different priorities with regard to the elections and the referendum.

SPLM leader and President of the South Salva Kiir made it clear that the South is more concerned about the referendum than the elections.

On the other hand, Second Vice President, Ali Osman Taha, reiterated that NCP is ready to accept whatever choice the South will make even though the party wishes to see a united Sudan.

According to Mr Taha, NCP is hoping that the outcome of the referendum will be the true choice of the people and not the result of coercion.


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