Nairobi — The imminent collapse of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed in Nairobi in January 2005 between the government of the Republic of Sudan and the former rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) does not come as a surprise to observers.
"There has been a general lack of goodwill from Khartoum in so far as the implementation of the CPA is concerned. President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir has also been reluctant to end the Darfur conflict and you can now see the outcome," observes Michael Owiso, chief execute officer, Amani People's Theatre, a regional non-governmental organisation that promotes peace through theatre.
Mr Owiso accuses the SPLM/A leadership of being compromised and attributes the failure of the CPA partly to former SPLM leader Dr John Garang's death. Dr Garang's successor lacks the personality and character to keep the spirit of the movement burning.
"Vice President Salva Kiir is a soldier and not a politician. SPLM needs a leader who can move the masses and champion the ideals contained in the CPA," he says.
For Father Renato Sesana (popularly known as Fr Kizito), a Comboni missionary who has been working on humanitarian projects in Khartoum and the Nuba Mountains, both the SPLM/A and the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) as well as the international community have shown very little commitment to the implementation of the CPA, not to mention not providing funds for the purpose.
"While the CPA could be a good legal instrument for building peace, the two signatories were brought to the negotiating table almost against their will, and they signed the CPA more out of international pressure - and threats - than out of inner conviction," says Fr Sesana.
"The root cause of the problems is that peace was not born out of a local process, of deep change of attitude from the parties concerned; some parties were actually excluded," he adds.
Fr Sesana suggests that in order for the two parties to stick to the agreement they have signed, there is now a need for a very high level of surveillance from the international community.
"The signing of an agreement is not enough if the root causes of the conflict are not addressed. Peace in Sudan is still not a plant with deep local roots, but an imported flower that needs a lot of tending from expert gardeners," concludes Fr Sesana.
Fr Loum Sunday of the Catholic Diocese of Torit in Eastern Equitoria blames the failure of the CPA on poor leadership of the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS).
"There is no clear direction as to where the GoSS is heading and corruption and tribalism are deeply rooted within the government. A conflict looms within the south itself," states Fr Sunday.
He decries the slow pace of reconstruction in Southern Sudan, particularly in the education sector. With senior government officials sending their children to study abroad, no efforts have been made to put up more schools as envisaged in the CPA.
"There is a need for a clear policy in every sector as the country approaches the referendum in 2011. Otherwise, the current problem of ghost soldiers may persist, leading to a conflict in the south," says Fr Sunday.
Still, the failure of the CPA is a major credibility test for the African Union (AU) and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad), under whose auspices peace was negotiated. The international community is also on the spot for failing to honour its financial pledges for the reconstruction of Southern Sudan, besides remaining a spectator as NCP continues to violate the CPA. Above all, the GoSS leadership will be hard pressed to explain why it has not pushed for the speedy implementation of an agreement reached after 21 years of bloodshed.
The International Crisis Group (ICG) says in its report, A strategy for comprehensive peace in Sudan, that consistent international engagement and vigilance are needed to ensure the CPA is implemented. It also asks the United Nations Secretary-General to immediately appoint a chief for the peacekeeping mission (UN Mission in Sudan, UNMIS), which has been without a leader for more than half a year, so it can focus on its primary mandate of monitoring the CPA.
Equally, the international community should draw up a roadmap for peace that includes the African Union/United Nations plan for reviving the Darfur political process, benchmarks for CPA implementation, and consensus on diplomatic and economic rewards for those who co-operate, and punitive measures for the spoilers.
The enlarged contact group on Darfur is to meet again in September. ICG recommends that the group agree on holding the parties, especially Khartoum, to key CPA benchmarks.
Equally, the UN Secretary-General should work with the AU to organise a broad-based international conference at which a comprehensive roadmap for peace in Sudan is worked out.
ICG asks that the government of Sudan stop harassing journalists, remove restrictions on local media, release political prisoners, and reform the National Security Act and other laws that continue to contradict the CPA and constitution. Khartoum should also respect political freedom and implement in a full and timely manner the commitments undertaken in the CPA.
To the UN Security Council, the AU, EU, Arab League, neighbours of Sudan and donors, the report recommends they devote increased attention to implementation of the CPA and demand that the NCP meets a number of benchmarks within that agreement's timelines so as to prepare for free and fair national elections in 2009 and reform central government operations.
The benchmarks are that the national census take place in January 2008, as planned; the latest pledge from the central government of $30 million between June and September is late and should be released immediately; parliament pass the Electoral Bill by October 2007, after wide consultations with political parties and civil society; the Fiscal and Financial Allocation and Monitoring Commission begin to operate freely, according to its CPA mandate and with support and guidance from the World Bank, and the Finance Ministry respect its directives.
They should also develop a comprehensive roadmap for peace in Sudan that includes agreement on supporting implementation of the CPA benchmarks, existing AU/UN roadmap for reviving the political process on Darfur and increased attention to Sudan's other regional issues, which threaten to become deadly conflicts, including in Kordofan, the far north and the east.
The SPLM, on the other hand, has been asked to focus on governance issues in the south, especially its obligations in the Government of National Unity (GNU), in particular those relating to CPA provisions for national reforms and a democratisation process leading to free and fair elections in 2009.
The CPA was the culmination of more than two and a half years of negotiation between the then insurgent SPLM/A and the NCP. It provides for a six-year interim period with democratic elections by 2009, and an autonomous southern government, followed by a self-determination referendum for the south.
For the time being, the CPA allows power and wealth sharing arrangements aimed at ending decades of political and economic marginalisation of the south. It also guarantees the south's representation in Sudan federal government branches proportional to its population.
According to the CPA, the SPLM controls 70 per cent of the appointed positions in the GoSS until elections, the NCP 10 per cent, and other southern parties the remaining 20 per cent. At the level of the GNU, the NCP maintains 52 per cent of the appointed positions, the SPLM 28 per cent, other northern parties 14 per cent, and other southern parties 6 per cent.
The SPLM must also establish 10 new state governments in the south (where it will maintain its 70 per cent control, with 20 per cent going to the NCP and 10 per cent to other parties), and fill 45 per cent of the positions in the state governments of Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan, and 20 per cent in all other northern state governments.
However, sabotage from the NCP and lack of commitment from the SPLM/A leadership threatens the CPA with collapse.