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Sudan Peace Watch – Nov 4, 2010
Intensive diplomatic efforts continued around the final steps in Sudan’s peace agreement and on North-South arrangements should Sudan choose to split into two, facilitated by African Union High-Level Implementation Panel Chair Thabo Mbeki and with major U.S. involvement. Meanwhile the preparations for the Southern self-determination referendum face daunting logistical challenges. Even as the Sudanese Presidency issued a joint statement declaring “there will be no war,” the parties traded accusations of violating the peace agreement along the North-South border. While the South works on unifying dissident elements in advance of the referendum, reports of human rights abuses aimed at Darfuri activists in Khartoum as well as the closure of the Radio Dabanga offices, are highly concerning.
The devil is in the technical details for the southern referendum: Registration materials have arrived in both Khartoum and Juba, with just over two weeks left before voter registration is supposed to begin. But, many other procedural issues remain unresolved and cannot begin without proper funding and political will.
Abyei negotiations broaden to include all outstanding CPA issues and post-referendum arrangements: The resumption of Addis talks was postponed, but A.U. and U.S. officials continue to talk to Sudanese representatives to push the two parties toward a grand bargain that will involve trade-offs between the status of Abyei, oil-sharing arrangements, and border disputes, among other issues.
Concerns over conditions in Darfur continue: Human rights violations and low-level violence continue to plague the people of the region while negotiations between the Liberty and Justice Movement and the government of Sudan continue in Doha. The U.N. Security Council turned its attention to Darfur recently, first with a high-level visit, then with diplomatic engagement in response to ongoing concerns about the evolving human rights and humanitarian situation in the region.
In a recent briefing from U.S. officials, Special Envoy Gration made clear that the protection of the rights of northerners and southerners in both regions and establishing a path to citizenship are of “grave concern” to the administration. U.S. officials noted that there have been many “suggestions” for addressing the citizenship issue, and that although the two parties have committed to ensuring protection of citizens, discussions for contingency plans have also begun.
The role of the U.S. in the current negotiations cannot be understated as it is widely understood among Sudanese, American, and other international officials that northern agreement on any new deal is contingent on the right incentives from the Obama administration. According to the latest fact sheet from the State Department, the incentives for fulfilling the two referenda and agreement on “key principles” for post-referenda arrangements would be additional U.S. trade and investment in Sudan in non-oil sectors and an exchange of ambassadors. President Obama’s renewal of economic sanctionson Monday is a signal that until the right benchmarks are met, the administration will not change its relations with the Khartoum regime.