As the genocide in Darfur continues, the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended the war in Southern Sudan—a conflict that took 2 million lives—is at risk of collapse. If it unravels, there will be no chance for peace in Darfur, and the likelihood increases dramatically of a return to a far more destructive war in the South. The deal is primarily at risk because of obstructions created by the ruling National Congress Party. These include:
- delaying the process that would lead to democratic elections, as mandated by the CPA;
- creating numerous obstacles to drawing the CPA-required boundaries, a prerequisite for defining election districts;
- failing to withdraw its military forces from oil fields in the South in accordance with the CPA-stipulated timetable; and
- refusing the “final and binding” border ruling for Abyei, a major oil producing region.
As a result of these roadblocks, the southern-based Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) suspended its participation in the national coalition government in October 2007. On November 2, however, President Bashir announced his government’s renewed commitment to the CPA, and the SPLM reversed its decision. This statement by Bashir, however, should be viewed within the context of the ruling party’s pattern of making unfulfilled promises designed to relieve international pressure.
It is urgent to support both the resolution of Darfur’s crisis and the full implementation of the CPA. The Darfur movement must broaden its focus to press for a sustainable and comprehensive peace for all of Sudan. The end to both crises rests in the same solution: the democratic transformation of the country, driven by strong internationally monitored peace agreements—built on shared power and resources and comprehensive political change—for the South, Darfur, and eastern Sudan.
Darfur is the Sudanese government’s latest violent project, but it is not unique. Sudan’s ruling party took power in a military coup in 1989. For 18 years, it has been at war with virtually all of Sudan’s marginalized populations and is responsible for the war-related deaths of an estimated 2.5 million civilian noncombatants. Seeking to ensure its control over the South’s land and resources, the party armed allied raiders—very similar to the Janjaweed militias in Darfur—to do the dirty work of killing and forcibly displacing Southern Sudanese civilians from their land. A full-blown U.S.-led effort, headed by former Senator Jack Danforth, worked hand-in-glove with Kenya and other regional states, to secure the CPA in 2005. The CPA pursued a vision of a “New Sudan,” focused on all of Sudan with three political milestones:
- A national census
- Local and national elections
- A referendum on the future status of the South—to stay united with the North or become an independent state
It is believed that fulfillment of the election provisions of the CPA, if aggressively monitored by the international community, would provide the opportunity for nonviolent political transformation in Khartoum and in all of Sudan.
Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA)—the peace deal signed in 2005 designed to end the war between the ruling party in Khartoum and South Sudan, and which also provides a framework for a national solution. This is one of the Bush Administration’s most successful foreign policy achievements, but it is currently at risk of collapse.
National Congress Party (NCP)—the ruling party in Khartoum; formerly the National Islamic Front (NIF). The NCP took power in a military coup in 1989 and has been at war with virtually all of Sudan’s marginalized populations.
Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A)—the rebel group (and army) in the South that eventually forced the NCP to sign the 2005 peace deal.
Abyei Boundary Commission Report—defined the north-south border in the oil-rich area of Abyei. The NCP has refused the “final and binding” report which has frozen all efforts to establish a new local administration in Abyei.
United States—a full-blown U.S. lead effort helped to reach the 2005 peace deal in South Sudan, but since then, U.S. missteps and lack of attention have caused the deal to flounder. The NCP must be held to account and pressured to implement the Agreement it signed, and in particular to move quickly to honor the provisions attendant to Abyei, the determination of the border, and the national census.
It is clear that Darfur and the South are afflicted by a common problem: an unaccountable government that refuses to share power, wealth and resources with all of Sudan’s people and mounts military campaigns against its own civilians. The only way to address this problem effectively is by pressuring Khartoum to comply fully with the agreements it has signed, to move forward constructively with the peace process in Darfur and on preventing the demise of the CPA, and to hold accountable those most responsible for egregious acts of violence.
Enough’s 3 P’s
The international community must redouble its efforts to ensure the prompt implementation of the CPA while simultaneously striking a deal for Darfur. A lasting solution for Darfur is not possible if the focus is on Darfur alone. The international community must conceive, achieve, and sustain an all-Sudan solution.
Peace: The State Department, with full-backing from the White House, must establish a full-time diplomatic team in the region, headed by a full-time White House envoy with two senior deputies, to maintain consistent, high-level pressure on implementation of the CPA while also driving the Darfur peace process. The U.S. must enlist similar commitments from the UK, France and China. Promises made by the U.S. and other donors to provide economic aid to the South and to support the increased capacity of the new Government of Southern Sudan must be delivered, and support for the GOSS’ efforts to unite Darfurians in preparation for further peace efforts in Darfur should be increased.
Protection: The U.S. and its allies must ensure that UNAMID has the requisite financial and logistical support to achieve its mandate to protect civilians. The U.S. must work through the UN Security Council to maintain the UN Mission in Southern Sudan (UNMIS) at current levels, and support aggressive UN action to disarm militias that threaten to reignite war in the South.
Punishment: The UN Security Council should convene an extraordinary session with the goal of passing a resolution that establishes clear benchmarks and penalties in the form of targeted sanctions. The U.S. and other states must increase their support and intelligence-sharing with the International Criminal Court in order to support further indictments against those most guilty of committing atrocities in Darfur.