UNMIS helps to cement peace between North and South Sudan

 

Sudan took positive steps to implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2006, including the redeployment of troops and the fulfillment of other security commitments.Nevertheless, areas of the country were still plagued by armed militias, disagreements over borders, disputed oil revenues and the escalating crisis in Darfur.

A major milestone was reached in July, when the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) pulled its remaining 5,672 soldiers out of eastern Sudan and moved them to the South. The United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) actually closed its Kassala office in September, withdrawing 80 civilian and 250 military staff.

The Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) continued to withdraw from the South, with a target date of July 2007 for complete redeployment to the North. Southerners, however, still faced the threat of “other armed groups” (OAGs) – renegade bands of former combatants who had failed to join either the SPLA or the SAF, as stipulated in the CPA.

In several southern areas, commanders of the South Sudan Defence Force, an OAG, refused to abide by their agreement to join the SPLA, as laid down in the Juba Declaration in January. There were suspicions that militias had remained active to create instability and control disputed areas or oilfields. A location of particular dispute was the Abyei transitional area, where political tensions remained high and the populace still lacked a local administration.

Residents of Torit, eastern Equatoria,watch as newly trained police officers (former SPLA soldiers) march at their graduation ceremony, 15 November 2006.

(UNMIS Photo by Tim McKulka)

The South was also beset with pockets of insecurity due to tribal tensions, an abundance of small arms, and the return of refugees and displaced persons. In addition, southerners suffered sporadic attacks by the regionally based Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), until Government of Southern Sudan-mediated peace talks led the LRA and Ugandan Government to sign a cessation of hostilities agreement in August.

The delay in forming Joint Integrated Units between SAF and SPLA forces to fill security gaps left by the former opposing forces also affected the security situation. Efforts were urgently required to shape the SPLA into a modern, professional army not only to subdue hostilities, but to rein in errant soldiers who were clashing with the local population.

Having completed almost 100 per cent of its deployment in the South, UNMIS was able to help stem violence in the region by supporting both military and civilian disarmament programmes, which included training over 400 SPLA data collectors to register their troops. The mission also sent over 600 police officers to the South, who assisted with community policing in Juba, and in training the newly formed Southern Sudan Police Service.

In addition, UNMIS helped bolster the South’s war-torn infrastructure, assisting with the demining and repairing of more than 300 kilometres of roads during the year.The mission supported projects addressing the lack of basic services, such as water, sanitation, health care and education. These were urgently needed for the thousands of returnees and refugees who were now re-entering the region, as well as to improve local morale.

As the South struggled to rebuild,demarcation of the North-South border faced serious delays,which will affect the sharing of oil revenues, the completion of redeployment in 2007, the mid-term elections in 2009, and the referendum on unity in 2011.Governmental parties also squabbled about the status of the National Petroleum Commission – whether itwould be advisory or decision-making – and the equitable division of oil revenues between North and South Sudan.

The Government’s hesitation in deciding on key issues slowed down several CPA activities, including preparations for national elections, originally set for mid- 2008, but now delayed until mid-2009. Commissions envisioned in the peace accord were either non-functional or yet to be established, including those focusing on national human rights, the civil service and land disputes. The pace of CPA implementation picked up during the final legislative session of the year, however, when some 64 bills were tabled.

Analysts have suggested that continuing strife in Darfur could have consequences on implementation of the CPA, and that peace in Sudan is indivisible.A successful CPA, they argue, could become a model for sustainable peace in Darfur, but the Government must make greater efforts to make the North-South agreement work.Considerable progress will be needed in the coming months in such areas as border demarcation, security and police reform, the return of refugees and IDPs, and preparation for future elections.

 

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Prepared by the Peace and Security Section, United Nations Department of Public Information.

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