The Khartoum-SPLM Agreement: Sudan's Uncertain Peace
The January 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) formally ended war between the Khartoum government and the insurgent Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), Africa's longest civil conflict. Yet as SPLM Chairman John Garang was sworn in as 1st Vice-President on 9 July, implementation lags badly. The main obstacles are the old regime's lack of will to embrace genuine power sharing and elections, and ultimately allow a southern self-determination referendum after the six-year interim period and lack of capacity in the South to establish and empower basic structures of governance. To keep the accords on track, the international community must focus on broadening participation and transparency, particularly handling of oil revenues, promote SPLM dialogue with the government-allied militias and quickly deploy the UN peace support mission, whose monitoring operations will be key to breaking the links between Khartoum and those southern proxies. The peace deal poses a real threat to many groups associated with the National Congress Party (NCP) regime, which signed the CPA under some duress both to deflect international pressure over Darfur and to strengthen its domestic power base by securing a partnership with the SPLM. Most members recognise the free and fair elections required in 2009 would likely remove them from power. Many also fear the selfdetermination referendum will produce an independent South, thus costing Khartoum much of its oil and other mineral wealth. There are signs the NCP seeks to undercut implementation through its use of the militias (the South Sudan Defence Forces, SSDF), bribery, and through the tactics of divide and rule. It actively encourages hostility between southern groups, with the hope that intra-south fighting will prove sufficiently destabilising that the referendum can be postponed indefinitely without its being blamed. These tactics will likely intensify if pressure over Darfur diminishes.