|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6517th Meeting* (AM)
Senior Peacekeeping Official Stresses Need to Overcome Outstanding
Challenges in Implementing Sudan’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement
Assistant Secretary-General, Permanent Representative
Address Security Council following Southern Self-determination Referendum
Following the successful completion of the Southern Sudan self-determination referendum, it was imperative to quickly overcome remaining challenges in implementing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, a senior peacekeeping official told the Security Council today.
“Key CPA issues remain unresolved or incomplete, and if not addressed effectively can quickly undermine progress and threaten to pull the parties back into conflict,” warned Atul Khare, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, as he introduced the Secretary-General’s latest report on the situation.
Describing the 9 January referendum as a “momentous event”, he praised the commitment of the parties to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, including President Omer al-Bashir and First Vice-President Salva Kiir Mayardit, leader of Southern Sudan. He added that the logistical and technical assistance provided by the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS), the tireless work of other United Nations staff and facilitators, and the financial support of international partners had been indispensable.
However, tensions had risen in the South following the referendum, he noted, citing resumed conflict between the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and a number of insurgent and militia groups. The situation in the oil-rich border area of Abyei remained volatile, with the lack of progress towards resolving its status fuelling frustration and empowering hard-line elements within rival communities. However, there had been no significant upsurge in violence since early March, he stressed, adding that the Kaduli agreements had helped to contain the situation, even though their full implementation remained a major challenge.
UNMIS had responded to all incidents through political facilitation and an increased military presence, he said. However, denial of access had severely curtailed the Mission’s ability to patrol conflict areas including Abyei, Jonglei and Upper Nile. Out of a total of 221 patrols conducted in the Abyei area during the reporting period, at least 33 had been denied access to sites where fighting had taken place despite persistent attempts, and patrols had frequently been harassed.
Recalling that the SPLA had requested in March that UNMIS stay out of counties in which operations were being conducted, he said that request had severely hampered the Mission’s ability to verify the military and humanitarian situation and to address the plight of civilians. To counter those restrictions, UNMIS had engaged with the Governments of Sudan and Southern Sudan and their respective military commands, which had resulted in increased mobility to some extent, although restrictions remained a challenge.
He said that, despite cooperation between the National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), he was concerned about the slow progress on outstanding issues under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement — border demarcation, Abyei, popular consultations, and integration of the SPLA into the Sudan Armed Forces — and on post-referendum negotiations. The recent round of talks in Addis Ababa, from 9 to 11 April, had concluded with agreement on a joint approach to debt management ahead of the World Bank meeting last weekend, but a number of economic questions, such as ownership of oil pipelines and transitional financial arrangements for sharing oil revenues, still needed to be resolved.
Equally, he continued, while some progress had been made on the joint management of the border, such as the establishment of a joint command mechanism to ensure the implementation of post-referendum security arrangements and the development of a joint paper on border security, the parties still differed on the necessity of third-party involvement. As for Abyei, the SPLM insisted on an agreement based on the Abyei Protocol to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, but the NCP stressed equal participation in the Abyei referendum by the Misseriya community.
“Abyei remains a flashpoint that has the potential to further escalate and damage the relationship between the North and South,” he warned, adding that UNMIS had recorded a sizeable military build-up by both sides in the area. Due to the continuing obstruction of migration in the central corridor, migration-related conflict could not be ruled out, he emphasized, adding that owing to those disagreements, there was a possibility that outstanding issues would not be solved and/or post-referendum negotiations would not be concluded by 9 July.
Mr. Khare said the popular consultation in Blue Nile State was lagging behind and the one in South Kordofan had not begun, pending state elections. The popular consultations were vital for the development of peaceful North-South relations and the North’s own adjustment in the post-Comprehensive Peace Agreement period. Further, the physical demarcation of the border had not begun and the integration of SPLA troops from Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan into the Sudan Armed Forces had not been resolved, “creating a potential security threat”. He noted that the troops, located on the border with Unity and Upper Nile States, insisted that their political grievances be adequately addressed in the consultations before any formal agreement on their integration was reached.
The Assistant Secretary-General said elections due to commence in Southern Kordofan on 2 May were of importance to both parties and the increased violence was of great concern. The NCP/SPLM partnership had been a stabilizing factor over the last two years, but given that the upcoming elections would influence Southern Kordofan’s political power balance, “the rhetoric of the election campaigns has been increasingly aggressive”. As a result, four predominately Nuba villages near Al Rashad had been targeted for violence just last week, resulting in 19 deaths and 29 injuries.
Mr. Khare said the conflicts between the SPLA and insurgents posed a significant threat to civilians in Joglei, Upper Nile and Unity States. Several issues were at stake: disgruntled high-level SPLA officers who did not see eye to eye with the SPLM leadership; Southern militia leaders whose local grievances had not been addressed; and the situation of Southerners who had fought with the Sudan Armed Forces but wished to be integrated into the SPLA. “The Government of Sudan will need to take concrete measures to address ethnic tensions, mismanagement, political and social marginalization, economic development and governance, especially in rule-of-law institutions,” he said.
Following that briefing, Sudan’s representative affirmed the need for the parties to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement to redouble efforts to resolve outstanding issues in order to achieve durable peace in both North and South. The good relations between the two sides could be seen in statements by the President of Sudan, he said, adding that the principles expressed showed his Government’s positive approach to such issues as citizenship, debts, assets, water, international instruments, security, economic arrangements, border demarcation and the status of Abyei.
He reiterated that the Sudanese Government was keen to provide assistance to the nascent State in the South since its security was vital to that of the North. While agreements signed concerning Abyei could resolve issues there, clashes had flared up when elements of the Misseriya had been prevented from taking their herds to water, he said. The Government had continued to deal positively with recommendations provided by facilitators, but the proposals had fallen on the “deaf ears” of the other party. He called for greater efforts to sort out Abyei, including greater flexibility from the other party, and emphasized that his own Government was ready to demonstrate such flexibility.
Turning to preparations for legislative elections in Southern Kordofan, he gave assurances that they would take place as scheduled on 2 and 4 May, at which point updates would be provided. The clashes in the area represented competition between two parties that could take place anywhere in the world, he said, adding that they had immediately been contained. Following the elections, public consultations would be initiated, he said, noting that consultations had already taken place in Blue Nile and that consultations in both states were continuing with “no major problems”. However, the presence of SPLA elements in Blue Nile must be sorted out in accordance with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, he stressed, calling on the Council to send a strong message encouraging the SPLA to withdraw from both Blue Nile and South Kordofan. Sudanese military units had properly withdrawn from Southern Sudan, while SPLA redeployment from the North stood at only 37 per cent, he pointed out.
Regarding other security issues, he said there were too many insurgent units in the South, describing them as “a creature that keeps on mushrooming and mushrooming”, with many defectors from the SPLA. Expressing hope that the latter could transform itself from “an elitist, military organization” into an entity that could confront all its problems, he said it was necessary to reach out to all military units.
Preventing UNMIS from reaching certain areas was of great concern, he said, concurring with the Secretary-General’s report on the need for a temporary extension of the Mission’s mandate. The Government was committed to continuing discussions with the authorities in the South in order to resolve outstanding issues, he said, expressing hope that the leaders there would come to a full understanding of the challenges ahead so that the North and the South could cooperate in overcoming them “as brothers”.
The meeting began at 10:15 a.m. and ended at 10:55 a.m.
The Security Council met this morning to consider the latest report of the Secretary-General on the Sudan (document S/2011/239), which provides information on the status of the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in the country.
Noting that voting on the self-determination referendum for Southern Sudan commenced on 9 January, exactly six years after the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the North and South came into effect, the report says the official results were announced on 7 February. Overall voter turnout was 97.58 per cent, with more than 98 per cent of voters choosing separation and 1.17 per cent in favour of unity. The results were immediately accepted by Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party and later endorsed by the national legislature.
Immediately thereafter, the report continues, the parties reiterated their commitment to resolving all remaining issues pertaining to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement by 9 July 2011, the date that will mark the end of the accord’s interim period. Since the vote, however, there has been limited progress on post-referendum arrangements, including the important issues of Abyei and border demarcation. Meanwhile, the Government of National Unity and the Government of Southern Sudan have begun preparing for the transition to the post-Comprehensive Peace Agreement period.
The report recalls that in January, the National Congress Party, responding to internal demands for political reform in the North, initiated dialogue with political actors including key opposition parties such as the National Umma Party (NUP) and the Original Democratic Unionist Party (ODUP), to secure their participation in a broad-based Government and a Government-led constitutional review process. On the other hand, the opposition has called for a national unity Government based on an agreed national reform agenda. Political tensions increased following student-led demonstrations between 30 January and 3 February which led to the arrest of students, journalists and civil society leaders.
While calling the successful completion of the referendum a “momentous achievement” and a testament to the parties’ commitment to peace and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the Secretary-General cautions: “We must not lose sight of the challenges ahead.” Indeed, several key issues contained in the accord remain unresolved or incomplete, and unless they are addressed effectively, “they can quickly undermine progress and might pull the parties back into conflict”.
He goes on to emphasize: “Both the Sudanese and their international partners must resist the temptation to relax their efforts following the success of the referendum. I call upon the senior leadership of the National Congress Party and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement to take immediate action to resolve all outstanding issues.” Furthermore, the parties can no longer postpone addressing the question of Abyei’s future status. The delay in facing the compromises necessary to resolve that issue has cost lives, threatened livelihoods and could easily unravel the goodwill earned from the successful referendum process.
According to the report, the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) is committed to doing everything within its capacity to assist in keeping the peace and protecting civilians in the area, but the only sure way to prevent incidents from escalating into widespread violence is comprehensively to address the underlying concerns. “While calling on the leadership of the parties to the Agreement to urgently finalize such a settlement, I also urge them, in the meantime, to contain the situation by implementing the Kadugli agreements, which call for the withdrawal of all security forces from the Abyei area with the exception of the Joint Integrated Units and Joint Integrated Police Units,” the Secretary-General adds.
He goes on to warn that the challenges ahead are not limited to the completion of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. While recent progress in the negotiations on post-Agreement arrangements is encouraging, many difficult questions remain to be addressed before the North-South separation. A failure to resolve security issues and the disposition of armed forces along the border, disputed or otherwise, could easily spark renewed violence. “I urge the parties to make use of every resource available to resolve these questions quickly, and I recognize the value of third-party assistance.” The international community stands ready to help, but can only act effectively once the parties themselves have made clear how best it can contribute, he adds.
The report notes that following the request of the Government of Southern Sudan, planning for measures to support peace consolidation and capacity-building in a wide range of areas has started, and the outcome of the ongoing technical assessment will be presented to the Security Council in May. “Logically, we can expect to build the new mission on the foundations and infrastructure established by UNMIS, without prejudging its mandate, composition or concept of operations,” the Secretary-General says, recommending that the Council support his request to incur planning costs for the new mission.
In the meantime, the report states, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General has initiated dialogue with the Government of Sudan on its preferred options for United Nations assistance in the North, as well as in Abyei and the still disputed North-South border in the post-Comprehensive Peace Agreement period.
Finally, the Secretary-General notes that the mandate of UNMIS will expire on 30 April, and recommends that, in light of the report’s findings, the Security Council grant an extension through 9 July, when the Comprehensive Peace Agreement interim period will be completed.
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* The 6516th Meeting was closed.