|International Crisis Group, 01 Janvier 2007|
Sudan, Africa's biggest country, spans multiple religious, ethnic and socio-economic divides: between Muslims and Christians, Arab and African, nomad and farmer. Sudan's triple conflicts – the South, Darfur (West) and East – reflects these to varying degrees, exacerbated by struggles over natural resources. Though oil was discovered in southern Sudan in 1978, the majority of Sudanese remain desperately poor. Sudan's longest civil war began in 1983, largely pitting the Muslim north against the Christian and Animist south, and killing at least 2 million people and displacing a further 4 million. Over time, it developed into a national conflict, with the rebels incorporating large groups of Muslims from throughout the north, and the government allying with many non-Muslim southerners. At the heart of Sudan’s three crises are resistance to the marginalising political and economic policies of the Islamist ruling party, the National Congress Party (NCP), and the attendant desire for greater political autonomy and share in national wealth.
The north-south war formally ended in January 2005 with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which incorporated the former rebel group, the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M) into a Government of National Unity (GNU). However the implementation of the CPA has been hampered by the lack of good faith and the absence of political will on the part of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and the lack of capacity of the SPLM/A, aggravated by the July 2005 death of its late Chairman, Dr. John Garang, as well as the absence of consistent international pressure. Deliberate obstruction of the CPA implementation by the NCP, particularly the areas of Abyei, oil revenue sharing and the demarcation of the north-south border, are putting the hard-fought peace at risk.
In mid-2003, the struggle for land and power in the western region of Darfur intensified, with government-supported Arab Janjaweed militia undertaking a policy of ethnic cleansing towards the civilian population of African tribes. The attacks by the government forces and allied militias led to the deaths of over 200,000 Darfurians and the displacement of over 2 million. Despite the deployment of the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) in 2004, the security situation in Darfur continues to deteriorate as attacks on civilians continue - caused primarily by Khartoum’s unwillingness to rein in the militias it armed- but compounded by fighting between rebel factions and an escalating proxy war between Sudan and Chad, which has also begun to destabilize the Central African Republican (CAR). After seven rounds of peace talks, a peace agreement was signed by the government and one faction of the Sudanese Liberation Army/Movement (SLA/M) in May of 2006 but the weakness of the agreement and the lack of support for it on the ground in Darfur do not bode well for its ability to secure peace for the people of Darfur. In the second half of 2006 attacks on civilians and NGO workers increased dramatically and security dropped to its lowest level since the beginning of the conflict. Despite faltering international pressure, Khartoum continues to resist the presence of a UN peacekeeping force to support the beleaguered AU troops.
In eastern Sudan, a peace agreement (the Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement – ESPA) between the Government of Sudan and the Eastern Front rebel group was signed in Asmara in October 2006. However, as with the DPA there is lack of support for the agreement, which is seen by many as another attempt by the Government to silence its opponents by buying them off and making empty gestures. Crisis Group’s Nairobi-based team reports and recommends policy on the situation in Sudan.