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SUDAN

Weekly Updates – 2/12

Peace Talks Bring Renewed Commitment With Skepticism

     

African diplomat and Norwegian Ambassador Tom Vraalsen, said on Wednesday that the new agreements “have created the potential for the most significant change in the humanitarian environment” in the last 13 years for Sudan.

Recent progress in the Kenyan peace negotiations mediated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development have produced unprecedented agreements between the Government of Sudan’s (GoS) National Islamic Front party and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (/Movement). Late January saw the heaviest fighting in the last 9 months, the Government of Sudan led by the National Islamic Front (NIF) party attacked the southern town of Leer and Akobo with civilian populations displaced by the thousands (See footnote) The parties agreed to an expanded Addendum to the Memorandum of Understanding (the current and frequently violated cease-fire agreement). Signed on Tuesday Feb. 4th, the Addendum re-affirmed the cessation of hostility agreement and most importantly created a monitoring mechanism to enforce the agreement. Outlined in the agreement a team of international military monitors will be commissioned to investigate accusations of violations. Other “key commitments” according to the State Department include a GoS halt in the construction of a contentious oil-area road, transparency of troop positions, commitments in facilitating the voluntary return of persons displaced by the fighting since October 2002, and increased cooperation with humanitarian relief agencies.

Despite the unprecedented addendum, the lack of historical adherence to peace agreements in the conflict combined with the highly contentious issues of power, wealth, and oil sharing still outstanding topics on the peace talk agenda the situation remains highly volatile. With effective enforcement of the cease-fire agreement the cessation of hostilities could extend indefinitely; however, international pressure political and economic pressure must be leveraged against either side as negotiations continue with the increasing temptation to break the cease-fire to make late round oil-grabs through military conquest.

Close monitoring on the Center’s part will be required should the GoS their follow established historical precedence and renege on the agreement. Should fighting erupt again the early warning system will focus upon the likely displaced populations in the WUN region of the Unity State near oil-area towns, in addition to the expected reports of malnourishment as aid workers report the status of isolated populations.

1. Many conflicting reports on the specific number of refugees, Medicines sans Frontieres estimate a few thousand while SPLA spokesman George Garang places the number near 75,000.

 

©2003 The Center for the Prevention of Genocide