North-south peace deal in Sudan has reached ‘delicate stage’ – Secretary-General
The comprehensive peace agreement ending the long-running civil war between north and south in Sudan has reached a delicate stage, with the full and verified redeployment this year of both sides’ forces critical to the deal’s chances of long-term success, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warns in a new report.
Mr. Ban calls on the Sudanese Government and the former southern rebels, known as the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), to do everything within their power to redeploy forces as required and to work towards the holding of free and fair mid-term elections in 2009.
In his report to the Security Council, Mr. Ban says the comprehensive peace agreement – struck in January 2005 – is now at a stage “at which either the point of departure or the destination could easily be lost.”
The international community’s attention has been partly diverted by the Darfur conflict in Sudan’s west, and “continued mistrust and a still considerable number of spoilers” have also hampered progress, Mr. Ban finds.
The peace deal sets out specific timelines for Sudanese armed forces and SPLA units to redeploy from various areas in the south, either through the actual movement of those forces, their transfer into so-called Joint Integrated Units bringing together the former opponents, or outright demobilization.
But the report notes that progress has been spotty, with rapid improvements in some areas and little change in others, such as Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states. The situation has been further complicated by attempts to integrate other armed groups in the south.
Mr. Ban says both sides “must now devote considerable attention” to the redeployment verification process.
“If and when disagreements emerge, they will need to be handled and resolved through the pertinent institutions without jeopardizing overall progress or compromising the integrity of the process,” he writes.
The Secretary-General stresses that any stalemate “remains a lose-lose scenario. The full and irreversible implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement is the only viable strategy for the Sudan and its peoples.”
The Security Council is expected to discuss Mr. Ban’s latest report during a meeting at UN Headquarters in New York on Monday.