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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: La paix au Soudan, un an après

Peace in Sudan, one year later

By Camille Bauer, translated by Summer Mercier

Translated Thursday 12 January 2006, by Summer

Khartoum. On January 9th, 2005, the Sudanese government signed an accord with the southern rebels putting an end to over twenty years of civil war and sparking a glimmer of hope, which has since dimmed.

One year after the signing of peace accords between the government of Sudan and the rebel movement in the south, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), time has taken its toll on many illusions. The ratification ceremony ended a war which, in twenty years, had left close to 2 million people dead and twice that number displaced, but the enthusiasm accompanying the accord has been undermined by the problems of practical application. The sharing of power between the government and the SPLA, which the treaty made provisions for, has hit more than a few snags. The National Congress Party (NCP), the Islamic movement which has been in power since the 1989 coup d’état, has managed to hold on to the key ministries of Finance and Economy, Energy and Mining, Defense, and Interior. Worse still, according to some experts, the party continues, via a sort of parallel administration, to control the ministries officially overseen by the SPLA. A situation which the latter, henceforth primarily concerned with the prospective independence of the autonomous southern region, seems to have accepted.

Visions of the “New Sudan,” in which the SPLA would work toward a democratic transformation of the whole of Sudan in favor of all marginalized regions, have narrowed since John Garange, the movement’s historic leader, died in a helicopter accident in early August. In the present context, the new direction of the SPLA seems to work primarily on preparing South Sudan’s referendum for self-determination which, according the January 2005 accords, must take place over the course of a six year transitory period.

Although signed by both parties, the accord’s provisions for the sharing of wealth are put at risk by the hand of the NCP, which is placed heavily on the country’s oil and economy. According to the NCP, “the oil revenues from wells in the South will be split 50/50,” between Khartoum and South Sudan. This distribution is essential for a South that, while poor and stripped of infrastructure, will have to face the homecoming of thousands of refugees. Nonetheless, according to certain sources, as of today the government of South Sudan has received only one tenth of the sum due.

And all around the country, signs of restlessness are mounting. In the South, confrontations between communities in the Equatoria region have recently served as a reminder of the difficulties that come with handling the return of refugees and the cohabitation of groups traumatized by war. Furthermore, the old Sudanese militia, long arm of the government in its war against the SPLA, continues to constitute a threat. There are large numbers of those fighters who have yet to begin the process of integration into the national army or the SPLA, a task which should have been accomplished already. Finally and most importantly, in its battle with the South for influence, the government continues to deny any protest whatsoever of its dominance in the North. Its repressive policies have plunged Darfur, a western city, into a conflict that left approximately 300,000 people dead and 2 million displaced. The East is agitated by the same refuted claims as Darfur and threatens to be the next part of the country to spiral into chaos.

Camille Bauer

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