Is Sudan’s CPA Being Dishonored?
By Jimmy Mulla
President Voices for Sudan
In his book Southern Sudan: Too Many Agreements Dishonored, Abel Alier, Sudan’s former first Vice-President and President of the Regional Government in South Sudan after
the 1972 peace agreement, wrote that the root cause of the long conflict between the central government and South Sudan is that many agreements between Khartoum and the people of South Sudan have been dishonored. Indeed, dating back to before the Addis Ababa agreement that ended the 1955-1972 North-South war, political establishments in Khartoum have resorted to all kinds of tactics to undermine agreement after agreement, including political, economic, diplomatic and military force, resulting in the cycle of violence that has persisted over five decades.
In 1955 just as Sudan was about to gain independence, a civil war erupted in the Southern part of the country that was temporarily settled in 1972 before it resumed and re-ignited in 1983. The second round of conflict lasted for over two decades until the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in January 2005.
The question that comes to mind is whether after five years, Sudan’s 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) has become one too many agreements dishonored. Sudan’s 1972 Addis Ababa Agreement survived for ten years before it was abrogated by
, sparking the resumption of a second round of the North-South war, which later engulfed the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile, and spread to Eastern Sudan.
Negotiated over a two-year period, the structure of the CPA was strongly influenced by the fear of past dishonored agreements. In an attempt to safeguard the agreement and avoid a repetition of past mishaps, with the help of international experts some institutional measures were incorporated in the CPA to ensure its full implementation. The document outlined protocols for a number of issues, including power-sharing, wealth-sharing, security arrangements, and resolutions of conflicts in Abyei, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile States. The Machakos Protocol, a main component of the agreement, established a six-year interim period during which the southern Sudanese will have the right to govern affairs in their region and participate equitably in the national government.
Among other measures adopted were the formation of several commissions, and allowing two separate armies to co-exist with small integrated units under the security arrangements. With the hope that these measures would withstand the challenges of time, a seal bearing the phrase, “Unity is to be made attractive” was then affixed to the CPA.
However, the turn of events that followed the signing of the agreement raises serious doubts as to whether the CPA will withstand the challenge of time.
In his report 19 months after the signing of the peace agreement, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan strongly criticized the government of Sudan on the slow pace of implementation of the peace agreement, noting that several important parts of the agreement had fallen well behind schedule, and that there had been little progress made towards disarming fighters or establishing a human rights commission. A commission set up to share Sudan's oil revenue was not functioning properly, and the north denied the UN access to the extremely contentious region of Abyei.
Since the signing of the CPA, serious concerns have been raised about violations, and contrary to expectations, to date every measure put in place to ensure flawless implementation of the agreement has yielded dismal results.
On power sharing, for example,
the Government of National Unity (GNU) that was formed was supposed to be a decentralized system of government, granting more power to individual states. Instead Khartoum retained monopoly of power.
From the very start, Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party rejected outright the idea of sharing ministerial positions equally with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), clinging to both the Ministries of Finance, and Energy and Mining. On commissions, such as the Abyei Commission Boundaries Commission (ABC), the commission heard testimony from all stakeholders and issues ruling on the Abyei boundary, but the Government in Khartoum rejects the ruling, claiming the ABC overstepped its mandate.
Deadlock with Khartoum over Abyei's administration and other issues, the SPLM announced on October 11, 2007 that it was boycotting the GNU, accusing the north of violating the terms of the 2005 peace deal. The SPLM says it was forced to suspend its two-year-long participation in Sudan's national unity government because of what it described as Khartoum’s failure to fully implement key elements of the CPA.
In May 2008 clashes in the oil rich region of Abyei claimed many innocent lives, driving 50,000 people from their homes and the town was burned down. In June 2008, an agreement was reached to hand the issue over to a specially convened tribunal sitting at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, whose decision would be binding on both parties. The court issued its ruling, which was accepted by both sides but has yet to be implemented.
Additional examples of mishaps in the CPA implementation process include the North-South border demarcation remaining largely unresolved, disputes over wealth sharing, of late the census results, difficulties in drafting and enactment of laws, and a contentious electoral process, wherein key figures of the opposition were detained by security forces.
It is to be recalled that as the North-South peace deal was putting an end to one conflict, another conflict erupted in Darfur in February 2003 as the Government of Sudan (GoS) turned attention to opposition groups from the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). In a similar fashion, following months of negotiation and with pressure from the international community, the government of Sudan and a faction of the SLM/A signed Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) in Abuja in May 2006.
In addition to the 2005 CPA and the 2006 DPA, the Government of Sudan signed the Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement (ESPA) with the Eastern Front in October 2006 in Eritrea’s capital, Asmara, ending a decade-long conflict in the eastern part of the country. These agreements were supposed to form the basis of the country’s transformation into a new era of peace. Unfortunately, the DPA deal did not succeed in bringing peace and stability to the people of Darfur and ESPA did not address the grievances in the east.
Apart from key members from these groups being appointed to government positions, none of the agreements’ other provisions have been implemented, thereby also relegating the DPA and ESPA to the list of too many agreements dishonored. Undoubtedly, the current preliminary framework peace between the government of Sudan and Justice and Equality Movement signed in Doha will suffer a similar fate.
Overall, Khartoum has been meticulously calculating and relentless in employing old habits to maintain predominance at all costs.
It remains to be seen whether the upcoming elections will provide a lucky break in this trend, despite the fact that so far, the CPA – as with all other previous peace agreements – has failed to live up to expectations.
Nevertheless, while some consider that the CPA has already failed, others consider the ultimate test for the CPA to be the referendum in 2011, in which Southern Sudanese will determine whether they want to secede, or remain part of the larger Sudan. Time may have run out on “making unity attractive”, and on January 9, during the fifth anniversary celebration of the signing of the CPA, Sudan’s ruling head of State publicly stated that should South Sudan vote for secession, the outcome will be honored by the central government. Conversely, Khartoum may continue to perfect its old habits of undermining agreements, perpetuating the cycle of violence at the great cost of innocent lives, and to the detriment of Sudan as a nation and the whole region of Africa.
Whatever Khartoum’s true intentions, the political leadership and population of South Sudan are locked in a countdown to independence, and Sudan’s peace partners, which include regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) countries, the troika members (United States, Norway, and U.K) and the international community, are monitoring the current developments and with many uncertainties, are compelled to follow the treacherous journey to 2011.
As the CPA winds down into its final stages, there is a lot of doubt as to whether the internationally acclaimed 244-page document that ended the one of Africa’s longest conflicts will survive the challenge of time, or make the list of “Southern Sudan: too many agreements dishonored.”