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Crucial Conference Begins Today in Washington

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Crucial Conference Begins Today in Washington

Posted by Laura Heaton on June 23, 2009

As concerns mount over the durability of the peace deal that brought decades of war in Sudan to a close, the Obama administration called together more than 30 key players today with the goal of reviving the faltering agreement and restarting implementation.

Delegations from the North’s National Congress Party, or NCP, and the South’s Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, or SPLM, will meet in Washington today at a conference organized by Special Envoy to Sudan Major General Scott Gration. The conference is intended to re-engage the original signors and backers of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, or CPA, and get Sudan on track to implement key provisions of the peace deal.

Yesterday afternoon, Darfur advocacy groups, including Enough, commended the Obama administration for leading efforts to revisit the CPA.

For too long, the international community has been slow in responding to the sputtering pace of CPA implementation and the NCP’s attempts to undermine the agreement. The conference shows a welcome renewed commitment from the United States to lead the international community in re-engaging with the CPA

With delegations from over 30 stakeholders in attendance, the conference presents a promising occasion to address some of the challenging aspects of the CPA, namely, North-South border demarcation and treatment of the contested Abeyi area; the use of Joint Integrated Units, which were intended to promote cooperation between northern and southern armed forces; 2010 national elections; and wealth sharing arrangements.

As Enough, GI-Net, and the Save Darfur Coalition pointed out:

CPA implementation should be reprioritized as part of a comprehensive approach to ending Sudan’s conflicts. This approach must also recognize that Sudan’s complex conflicts have a common core: flawed governance by a center that exploits and marginalizes an underdeveloped periphery.

The high-level meeting comes at a time when Sudan advocates have become increasingly vocal with the criticism that President Obama has lost the resolve he expressed on the campaign trail. Remarks last week from Special Envoy Gration fueled this frustration and highlighted apparent fissures within the administration about how to proceed. Today’s conference represents an encouraging step toward international re-commitment to supporting CPA implementation.