Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Sudan: Parties fail to reach agreement on peace accord

Photo: President Umar al-Bashir

NAIROBI, 30 May 2006 (IRIN) - The leaders of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and the former rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) have failed to resolve their disagreements on the implementation of the January 2005 peace agreement which ended the country's 21-year civil war.

Despite the difficulties, President Umar al-Bashir and the First Vice-President Salva Kiir Mayardit affirmed their determination to fully implement the provisions of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which was signed in Nairobi, Kenya. "We must make use of our meeting to complete the rebuilding of our nation and surpassing the latest stages of bottlenecks and hardship, and subsequently deal in a method that guarantees the safety and unity of our homeland," al-Bashir asserted.

The three days of direct talks that ended on Monday in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum failed to overcome some of the most contentious obstacles that hinder the full implementation of the CPA, including the implementation of the Abyei Boundary Commission's report, the lack of transparency and accuracy in the sharing of oil revenues, the delay in the withdrawal of forces, and the demarcation of the 1956 north-south border.

The demarcation of Abyei, a contested area on the north-south border that contains one of Sudan's two main oilfields, was rejected by the NCP, although the boundary commission's decision was supposed to be final and binding under the CPA. Abyei has been given autonomous status and will choose in a referendum in 2011 whether to remain part of the north or join a potentially independent southern Sudan.

Despite three days of consultations, the issue remained unresolved. A final statement said the issue was to be decided by the presidency, either by recalling the commission members to defend their report, by referral to the constitutional court or through mediation by a third party.

Al-Bashir described the partnership meeting as constructive and frank. He added that the Government of National Unity should give people hope after the end of the war in the south, the conclusion of the Darfur Peace agreement and the positive steps being taken to resolve the low-intensity conflict in eastern Sudan.

Kiir reiterated the SPLM's strong partnership with the NCP but warned that such partnership could "only be based on a strict implementation of the CPA." He said "frank and honest discussions" by the two parties were necessary to overcome the outstanding obstacles. "Unless we make progress on these matters, I cannot see how the rest of the CPA can survive," he said.

The two leaders stressed, however, that time had to be given for the two parties who negotiated the CPA to implement the agreement, adding that people should not expect a swift solution to all the problems facing the country.

Reproduced with the kind permission of IRIN
IRIN 2006
Photo: Copyright
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