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Concerns over slow implementation of southern Sudan peace accord

سودانيزاونلاين.كوم
sudaneseonline.com
4/15/2005 8:52pm

NAIROBI, April 15, 2005 (IRIN) -- Three months after the Sudanese government and the southern rebel movement - the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) - reached a peace deal, analysts are concerned about the lack of progress towards enforcing the agreement and forming an interim constitution.


After 21 years of civil war in southern Sudan, the two sides signed a Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) on 9 January in Kenya's capital, Nairobi.

Progress on the ground has been slow, Bishop Caesar Mazzolari of Rumbek Catholic Diocese told IRIN in an interview in Rumbek on 8 April.

"This peace has to be accompanied by action, and this action has to be sustained with both human and material resources. We need the material resources to develop health centres, water sources, schools, but also to support those who will teach, those who will work in the hospitals," he said.

Other sources said although lawyers from the SPLM/A and the Sudanese government, working on the draft interim constitution - which will be based on the CPA and the existing constitution - were close to an agreement, a Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) had not yet been formed.

"They are running late," David Mozersky, an analyst at the International Crisis Group, told IRIN on 5 April.

A senior analyst in Khartoum, who requested anonymity, told IRIN he believed a key problem was that the CPA resulted from a mix of peace and constitutional negotiations.

However, according to a statement released by the Sudanese government on Sunday, the ruling National Congress party (NC) and the SPLM/A had in the last few days discussed "the formation of the national commission for revising the constitution, which is scheduled to hold its first meeting on 23 April."

The composition of the 60-member CRC is supposed to mirror the power-sharing formula outlined in the CPA.

According to the formula, 52 percent of the new government will be made up of members from the NC, 28 percent from the SPLM/A, 14 percent from other northern parties and 6 percent from other southern groups.

"To agree on a new constitution you need to involve all parties, and that part of the negotiations should have been more inclusive," the Khartoum-based analyst said.

"Even an exemplary interim constitution to international standards will lack legitimacy if it is not based on broad political and popular support," he added.

Muhammad Uthman al-Mirghani, leader of the National Democratic Alliance - a coalition of opposition parties - has, for example, resisted the power-sharing formula, and demanded greater representation for other political parties.

Many political groups, especially in the north, felt excluded by the CPA and have since voiced their discontent. According to observers, it will be particularly important to include representatives from the western Sudanese region of Darfur and the eastern Sudanese Beja Congress in the CRC.

Sunday's government statement - released through the Sudan News Service - said that they and the SPLM/A had "reached a vision on participation of political forces in a way guaranteeing overall representation in the national commission for revision of the constitution."

John Ashworth, an independent analyst on Sudan, told IRIN on 7 April that neither the SPLM/A nor the government had "a great track-record of consulting third parties".

"There is a danger that the two parties will entrench their power," he said. "It was never realistic to expect a credible interim constitution to be ready within six months."

The Khartoum-based analyst who requested anonymity told IRIN: "The government and the SPLM[/A] should try to make compromises to get as many parties involved in the constitutional review process as possible."

"Why is the working draft of the interim constitution still secret?" he asked. "Without a widely supported interim constitution, you don't have a legitimate government of national unity. The SPLM/A and the government have to listen to what others have to say."

Obstacles for the CPA

Although the international community welcomed the adoption of the CPA, analysts feel that many problems are preventing its implementation.

"Everything is coming too late, there is so much to do and so little capacity and funding - even if money is being pledged next week [during the international donor conference in Oslo on 11-12 April], it could take months before the funds will become available on the ground," Ashworth said.

Mazzolari warned that southern Sudan was not ready to accommodate those who had fled the violence and were now starting to return.

"No wells have been dug and those which existed were not maintained. There were 12 only in the whole of [the southern region of] Bahr el-Ghazal. The education does not exist. Only 3 percent of women are literate in the south, and only 16 to 17 percent of men are literate. The only real education structures that do exist are the ones provided by the church up to now. It's a real tragedy."

"We thought we were ready to receive these people, at least in principle, but in fact it is turning out that we are not really ready to welcome them," Mazzolari added.

Richard John Cornwell, a senior research fellow at the South African Institute for Security Studies, told IRIN on 7 April that the challenges the SPLM/A faced in terms of capacity-building were daunting.

"They need a great deal of training to transform former rebels into competent civil administrators, a police force and a judiciary," he said.

"The [US] $500 million in emergency support that has been requested [for the south by the 2005 UN Work Plan for Sudan] is not a great deal, and only about 5 percent has been funded so far," Cornwell added. "They face dire consequences if more is not forthcoming."

That the CPA does not address the problem of the conflict in western Darfur - or the marginalisation of the Beja community in the east - could be another stumbling block.

"Although the CPA lays down some principles on wealth and power-sharing that would be applicable to other Sudanese regions, such as Darfur, not much has happened so far," Cornwell said.

"The people from [the regions of] Nuba Mountains and southern Blue Nile gained nothing at all from this agreement, and tensions will only get worse as people start to read the agreement and understand its implications," Ashworth warned.

So although the CPA solved one conflict, Ashworth said, it could escalate conflicts in other parts of the country.

"You cannot have peace in one part of the country while war continues in other parts," he said.

The role of soldiers

Militias are another potential problem for the implementation of peace in southern Sudan. Closely aligned with the government and high-ranking officers in the Sudanese army, they remain a serious problem for new southern authorities.

"Although these armed groups are relatively small, they have the potential to destabilise the regions in which they are active," Ashworth said.

On 24 March, the UN Security Council voted unanimously to deploy a 10,000-strong peace force to southern Sudan to monitor the peace accord.

"The problem is that the resolution allows for a time-frame of 240 days for the troop deployment, which might prove too long. And many people are worried that peace monitors don't have the mandate to rein in the remaining militias in the south," Cornwell said.

Of particular concern are the Nuer-dominated South Sudan Defence Force - whose allegiance to Khartoum has been a source of much instability in the Greater Upper Nile region - and the Equatoria Defence Force (EDF) in southeastern Sudan.

According to Ashworth, although the EDF joined the SPLM/A in December 2003, a small group, dubbed EDF-2, remains loyal to Khartoum and poses a potential threat, especially if it would join forces with the northern Ugandan rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army.

Bishop Mazzolari decried the fact that disarmament was not taking place. "Many commanders are still acting out of the power of the gun - they prevail over tribunals, they prevail over justice cases," he said.

Commitments required

Concerned about the level of commitment from Khartoum to the CPA, Ashworth told IRIN that the ruling NC had made concessions against its own, Islamist, ideology - after pressure from the international community in the aftermath of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in America.

However, he warned, "a degree of scepticism is warranted, as no Khartoum government has held its peace commitments in the past. The government has been very slow in implementing even the limited commitment to stop the militias in Darfur."

Given its response to the fighting in Darfur, it remains to be seen how soon the government will fulfill its promises of power-sharing and self-determination for the south - especially since the adoption of a UN resolution, on 31 March, which called for those implicated in Darfur's crimes to be tried by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

According to Mozersky, the Council's referral of Darfur crimes to the ICC was a key factor in a solution for Darfur, as it would provide accountability for the atrocities.

On 29 March, the Council adopted a resolution which strengthened an existing arms embargo and imposed an asset freeze and travel ban on those deemed responsible for atrocities in Darfur, or who were thought to be violating the ceasefire agreement.

Mozersky said the sanctions were intended to increase the incentives for effective government action and push the process forward.

"This pressure is not coming out of the blue," he added. "Previous Council resolutions, of July, September and November, clearly demanded the disarmament of the militias and threatened [them] with repercussions - the government really backed itself into a corner on this."

He added that a solution for Darfur was critical for the implementation of the CPA. The UN resolutions could take Sudan a step closer to resolving Darfur's conflict, as well as implementing the southern peace agreement.

"The misery of the south of Sudan has to be assessed more objectively and more dispassionately," Mazzolari noted. "We have grown emotional about the spectacular show that was made of Darfur, but if a show could be made realistically of what goes on here, you would see that southern Sudan is full of Darfur without the same violence."

"All this glowing and glamorous chorus chanting 'Peace has come to Sudan' is not true," the bishop added. "It has not come. We have to bring it, it has not actually entered the lives of the people."

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