June 25, 2009
From 1983 to 2005, civil war between north and South Sudan killed at least two million people, mostly civilians, and displaced more than four million. A whole generation of people living in South Sudan have been denied the adequate shelter, food, water and education.
With leadership from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and support from Canadian, US and European guarantors, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement ( CPA) was signed in January 2005. This was greeted with much relief and fanfare as it included an end to the fighting between north and south.
It also set out terms for autonomy for the South for six years followed by a referendum for secession and sharing of oil wealth, unifying the army if the south does not secede after six years. A split in jobs in favour of the government in the central administration (70/30) and key states of Abyei, Blue Nile State and Nuba Mtns (55/45) and Sharia law would remain in the north but decided by an elected assembly in Khartoum.
A recent Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB) delegation visit to south Sudan focused on the opportunities for supporting food and food security programs in southern Sudan. A number of CFGB members have longstanding relations and work in Sudan. The team met with government, national and international NGO’s, church leaders and UN agencies. The team also travelled to Northern Bahr el Ghazal State to assess nutrition, health and food security programs.
The team encountered a humanitarian situation that is worse today than it was in 2007/8. The Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) is reported to be bankrupt. Salaries paid by key ministries are months behind. Banks are not fully functioning. Much of the road building started after the CPA was signed is stalled due to lack of funds. Schools, clinics and general infrastructure are severely lacking.
One common message that the team encountered was that without peace there is little development, including food security and that the earlier promise of a peace dividend is fast fading. Indications of concern that the CPA is in trouble include:
- Postponement of the national elections from 2009 to 2010. Democracy will be in jeopardy unless elections are held soon.
- Disagreement over the census, with the South claiming more than the suggested figure of 8.2 million.
- Demarcation of the boundary between North and South has not yet occurred as agreed and this is crucial since the oil wealth is found in the border areas.
- Recent massive fighting in Abyei (the oil area) and a shaky peace settlement.
- General increasing insecurity marked by proliferation of small arms and bloody conflicts leading to hundreds of deaths in many areas of the South. Traditional tribal conflicts over cattle and grazing rights are escalating beyond the normal incidents. In addition landmines are still causing deaths as people try to farm their land.
- The Ugandan based Lords Resistance Army ( LRA) is attacking villages in Western and Central Equatoria with much resultant bloodshed and loss of life.
Support for peace agreement
Many people interviewed felt that Sudan was in danger of returning to war unless a major effort was made to increase support for the implementation of the CPA. War would destabilize the region further and create dangerous alliances among neighbouring countries. It was noted that the international guarantors and the UN remain dangerously disengaged on the CPA, due in part to preoccupation with Darfur and in part a lack of consensus on the way forward. Recommitment to the CPA by both parties is needed if peace is to hold.
With our collective experience, our interaction with a broad range of actors in South Sudan and the region recently, we suggest the following:
1. That the CPA’s international guarantors and partner countries convene a conference, within the framework of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development ( IGAD) or the IGAD Partners Forum, to develop a coordinated strategy on CPA implementation.
2. The Assessment and Evaluation Commission ( AEC) of the CPA needs to be revitalized and strengthened with effective mechanisms. Regular meetings should be held. Key diplomatic missions in Khartoum should play a crucial role in making sure that the AEC effectively carries out its mandate. A senior diplomat from the region acceptable to all should be engaged to keep the AEC on track.
3. The international community work closely with the National Unity Government in supporting elections now slated for February 2010. Successful elections will need to ensure press freedom and reach out to voters living beyond the central areas of the country.
4. CFGB members and the Canadian NGO community should work with their constituents and the general public in supporting the CPA.
The situation in southern Sudan is extremely tenuous and all efforts need to be made to support the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Sudan cannot be allowed to relapse into war.
This report was provided by the Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB)
Inter-member Delegation to South Sudan.