Five months and 11 days until Sudan is set to hold critically important votes for both the South and Abyei, much remains to be done. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon emphasized the desperate need to speed things up in his latest report on Sudan: “I urge the parties to recognize that the pending issues outlined must be addressed immediately in order for the referendum to be conducted within the Comprehensive Peace Agreement time frame.”
Here’s a quick look at the status of some of the remaining, major provisions in the CPA:
Post-referendum negotiations: Though the format of, and parties involved in the negotiations have been identified, substantive negotiations have not officially begun. Originally set to begin this past Tuesday, Ajras al-Hurriya, a pro-SPLM paper, quoted Pagan Amum saying talks are postponed to August 7. Amum is the South’s Minister for Peace and CPA Implementation and a lead negotiator for the South in post-referendum talks.
Referenda: The Abyei Referendum Commission has yet to be formed—an alarming seven-month delay that has led to concern and tension among the population in the oil-rich area. The commission is the body charged with managing the vote that will allow Abyei residents to decide whether they want to be part of the North or the South, if South Sudan secedes. The appointment of the commission has stalled on the question of who will be chairperson, an individual who will have considerable influence over defining voter eligibility, a controversial issue that will have large consequences on the vote’s outcome.
According to the secretary general’s report, both the North and South Sudanese governments want the U.N. to take on an expanded role in the conduct of the two referendums. A joint request from the two Sudanese parties detailing what this role would look like is forthcoming – Ban says he hopes soon. In the meantime, UNMIS is hoping to bolster its presence across the South in advance of the referendum, with plans to deploy small teams at the county level.
Popular consultations: Secretary General Ban reports that there has been no substantive progress on the implementation of popular consultations in Southern Kordofan – legislative elections have to take place before the process can begin. Elections will be held after a new state census is conducted; currently, the state is waiting for census results from the Central Bureau of Statistics. In Blue Nile, the popular consultation process is underway. The consultations are an opportunity for the states’ populations to give their view on the CPA and its implementation, though the specifics of how, and what will come of those opinions, are not specified in the peace agreement.
Border demarcation: An official on the joint technical border committee tasked with demarcating the North-South border was recently quoted as saying that demarcation cannot be accomplished by the set referendum date. The committee has just adjourned its activities until October because of logistical challenges related to the rainy season.
Photo: Abyei town (AP)