A Reluctance to Negotiate
The SPLA's apparent reluctance to seriously
negotiate a peaceful resolution to the conflict is a matter
of record. The SPLA has waged war since 1983 against several
governments in Khartoum - military, transitional and democratic
- and repeated attempts at a negotiated resolution of the
conflict have failed. While it is true that several governments
came and went in the 1980s - there were six coalition governments
during Sadiq al-Mahdi's tenure alone - the same government
has now been in power in Sudan since 1989. The SPLA has
constantly changed the conditions it has set for ending
the war and negotiating. In the 1980s it demanded that Sudan's
military pacts with other countries be abrogated, that Nimeiri's
September 1983 sharia laws be repealed and that there should
be a national constitutional conference. Sudan's military
pacts have been dropped, in 1991 the government exempted
southern Sudan from sharia law and the Libyan-Egyptian initiative
envisages a national dialogue conference. Yet the war continues,
SPLA demands change and peace talks falter. Negotiation
is about dialogue. John Garang's stated position in 1999,
however, was that "the [Sudanese government] cannot
be reformed, it must be removed". This was echoed again
as recently as 2001 when he stated that "negotiations
must lead to the dismantling of the NIF regime". These
statements perhaps explain some of the impasse within the
John Garang's disdain for the IGAD peace
process has also been illustrated by his launching of large-scale
offensives often one or two days before, or on the same
day as, IGAD-brokered peace talks. On one occasion, thirty
minutes before the June 2001 IGAD peace summit was due to
be held in Nairobi, the SPLA faxed a statement to Associated
Press stating that its forces had captured the southern
town of Raga, declaring "this is excellent timing".
Similarly, during the September 2000 IGAD peace talks, the
SPLA escalated its military activity claiming to have inflicted
"heavy loss of life and equipment" on government
forces and to have captured the garrison town of Tahajulbolis.
It has also not escaped the attention of the international
community that on the occasions that the Sudanese government,
conscious of international concerns about bombing, has declared
a cessation of aerial bombardment within southern Sudan,
the rebels have responded with new and vigorous military
offensives: these offensives have themselves provoked a
continuation of bombing in counter-response.
Despite clearly lacking legitimacy either
as a national or even necessarily a regional force, the
SPLA has nevertheless been unable to resist attempting to
impose models on northern Sudan and Sudan as a whole. The
SPLA, for example, has long demanded as a pre-condition
for peace in Sudan that there be a total separation of religion
and state in Sudan, that Islamic law be abolished throughout
Sudan, north and south. This ignores the reality of Sudan's
religious make-up. The Sudanese people are overwhelmingly
Muslim. Nationally, Christians account for perhaps five
percent of the population. Even in southern Sudan, where
Christians make up perhaps fifteen percent of the population,
with Muslims also accounting for a sizeable minority, the
majority of the people are animist. As the SPLA has repeatedly
been identified as a Christian rebel organisation, and given
that John Garang has called the New Sudan Council of Churches
the "spiritual wing of the Movement", there are
additional questions that must be asked about how representative
the SPLA are of the southern Sudanese population. Considering
also that the government has exempted southern Sudan from
Islamic sharia law, for the very reason that it does not
have a Muslim majority population, it is questionable that
the SPLA, at best questionably representative of sections
of southern Sudanese society, seeks to dictate the political
and religious dispensation within northern Sudan. While
it has become convenient to claim that the conflict in Sudan
is a religious one, sparked by the Nimeiri regime's introduction
of Islamic laws in September 1983, the simple fact is that
the second phase of the war began several months earlier,
and was in a direct response to constitutional and political
changes within southern Sudan. In September 2001, the United
Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Sudan
stated that: "church interlocuters almost unanimously
share the general opinion that the war has no religious
The key issue of a referendum on self-determination
has also shown SPLA contradictions. Given that the SPLA
has been continually projected as fighting for southern
Sudanese self-determination, the SPLA showed remarkable
reluctance in embracing Khartoum's repeated offers of a
internationally-supervised referendum whereby the people
of southern Sudan could choose either unity or separation
- offers outlined in the 1997 Khartoum Peace Agreement and
incorporated into Sudan's 1999 constitution. Rather than
seizing upon this offer, the SPLA chose first to downplay
it and when the organisation did accept the concept of a
referendum the SPLA then demanded that any such referendum
should include a redrawing of the 1956 boundaries of what
constituted southern Sudan. They additionally complicated
matters by demanding that other areas of Sudan, namely the
Nuba mountains and Ingessana hills, should also be afforded
referenda on self-determination. It would be analogous to
parties to a referendum in Canada on Quebec's political
status demanding that the province's boundaries be redrawn
and that parts of Ontario and Labrador be included. This
attitude has been criticised by veteran southern Sudanese
opposition politicians such as the Dinka elder Bona Malwal.
Speaking out in May 2000, Malwal, a former culture and information
minister, publisher of the opposition Sudan Democratic
Gazette, and NDA executive member, stated: "I have
noticed and revealed the duplicity with which you have participated
in the peace process. Many Southerners have spoken for some
time about the need to arrive at a Southern consensus over
the question of Self-Determination. They recognise the need
to fill the vacuum created by your vague goals for the war
of liberation. After seventeen years of this bloody war
in which two million of our people have perished, the Northern
Sudanese political establishment as a whole has said that
they would negotiate a political agreement with you to work
out the modalities for a referendum on self-determination
for the South. Yet, you have personally dodged this issue
- as seen in the way you have briefed your delegations to
the various rounds of the Intergovernmental Authority for
Development (IGAD) peace talks..Perhaps your own tactics
make you blind to this, but there is indeed increasing support
among the Southern Sudanese people for pursuing peace, if
peace is pursued honestly, diligently and in good faith
by the other side. How many more millions of Southern Sudanese
do you want to die to satisfy your ego?"
The SPLA position with regard to the Libyan-Egyptian
initiative has also been characterised by its usual ambiguity.
In erratic shifts in position, for example, the SPLA in
1999 both accepted and then rejected Libyan-Egyptian attempts
at peace-making, sometimes within the space of 48 hours.
In 2001 they repeated this pattern.
And, most recently, in April 2001, the
SPLA has refused to accept the government's repeated offers
of a comprehensive cease-fire stating that it would only
agree a cease-fire if the government ended oil production
in Sudan knowing all too well that it would be impossible
for the Sudanese government to meet such a demand. It has
repeatedly been claimed that oil revenues would encourage
Khartoum to pursue a military solution to the conflict at
the expense of negotiations. The fact is that since oil
began to be exported from Sudan in September 1998, the government
has offered or called for a cease-fire on at least twelve
occasions. It has been the SPLA that has refused to respond
to offers of a peaceful resolution of the war.
The Clinton Administration's Sudan Policy
Any study of the search for peace in Sudan
in the 1990s cannot ignore the impediment to that process
posed by the Clinton Administration. In April 2001, for
example, former United States President Carter, perhaps
the single most respected and objective commentator on events
within Sudan, said of this period: "For the last eight
years, the U.S. has had a policy which I strongly disagree
with in Sudan, supporting the revolutionary movement and
not working for an overall peace settlement." This
echoed earlier concerns voiced by Carter. In December 1999
he had observed:
The people in Sudan want to resolve
the conflict. The biggest obstacle is US government
policy. The US is committed to overthrowing the government
in Khartoum. Any sort of peace effort is aborted, basically
by policies of the United States.Instead of working
for peace in Sudan, the US government has basically
promoted a continuation of the war.
Washington's attempts to destabilise the
biggest country in Africa, a politically delicate country
made up of a number of ethnic groups, hundreds of tribes
and languages, and an Islamic-Christian fault line is simply
incomprehensible. Sudan has ten neighbouring states. A successful
attempt to destabilise and fragment Sudan would very likely
lead to the "Lebanonisation" of the country, with
all the grave implications that would entail. Alternatively,
Sudan might become another Somalia, an anarchic patchwork
of clan and tribal allegiances. As early as February 1997,
commentators had outlined the regional dangers of Washington's
policies. In an article entitled 'US Masterminds 3-Pronged
War on Sudan', Africa Analysis reported:
There is growing anxiety in eastern
and central Africa that Ethiopia, Eritrea and Uganda,
the Americans and their European friends are steering
into open warfare with Sudan. This is in turn stimulating
contrary alliances extending to the shifting frontline
of the Great Lakes region.The ramifications are alarming
diplomats [in Nairobi].
The dangers of this involvement were also
clear to American newspapers such as The Boston Globe:
"To the peril of regional stability, the Clinton Administration
has used northern Uganda as a military training ground for
southern Sudanese rebels fighting the Muslim government
This American attitude was all the more
regrettable since the Sudanese government has repeatedly
invited constructive United States involvement within Sudan.
It is clear what effect the Clinton Administration's
military and political support for the SPLA had on the movement's
willingness to negotiate a political settlement. Former
President Carter observed at the time: "I think Garang
now feels he doesn't need to negotiate because he anticipates
a victory brought about by increasing support from his immediate
neighbors, and also from the United States and indirectly
from other countries". Sadly, in 2000 and 2001, the
United States Congress voted millions of dollars worth of
assistance to Sudanese rebels. Again, these are actions
which probably serve to reinforce SPLA intransigence with
regard to peace talks.
The Clinton Administration's message was
also not lost on some of Sudan's neighbours. Carter bluntly
stated that the Clinton Administration's millions of dollars
in military aid to Eritrea, Ethiopia and Uganda was "a
tacit demonstration of support for the overthrow of the
Khartoum government". In addition to its involvement
within the internal peace process within Sudan, therefore,
the government also had to spend considerable attention
in securing peaceful relations with its neighbours, neighbours
that had been encouraged to wage war on Sudan. This encouragement
took the form of political, financial and military support,
including grants of tens of millions of dollars worth of
military assistance to Eritrea, Ethiopia and Uganda.
Sudan has successfully sought to re-establish
peaceful relationships with these countries. In March 2000
Sudan and Ethiopia stated that their countries' ties were
"now much stronger" than they were in early 1990s.
The two governments announced that they had signed agreements
on cooperation in political, security, trade, roads, communications,
agriculture and other spheres. It was also announced in
November 2000 that Sudan will be exporting oil to Ethiopia,
and that an oil pipeline linking the two countries was being
considered. In January 2000, Eritrea and Sudan resumed diplomatic
relations with each other. Eritrea handed back the Sudanese
embassy building to the Sudanese government. The Eritrean
government had previously given it to the Sudanese rebels.
In December 1999, Sudan and Uganda signed
an agreement brokered by Jimmy Carter which sought to normalise
relations. This agreement sought to end support for combatants
in their respective civil wars. Despite having signed this,
and other, agreements pledging an end to military support
for the SPLA rebels, Uganda has, however, continued such
assistance. The first Deputy Prime Minister and Minister
for Foreign Affairs Eriya Kategaya, appearing before the
Ugandan parliamentary committee on presidential and foreign
affairs, stated for example that Uganda would not stop supporting
the SPLA. He said that "To be seen to abandon them
because we want peace with (Sudanese President) Bashir is
not correct." Six months after having signed the December
1999 Nairobi accord, Museveni admitted to the Ugandan newspaper
New Vision that Uganda was still providing the SPLA
with weapons. Nevertheless, continuing Ugandan-Sudanese
talks have seen progress. It is with Egypt, however, that
Sudan has established a very constructive new relationship.
Up until Sudanese independence in 1956, Egypt and Sudan
had essentially been one country. Egypt still looks on Sudan
as its hinterland, and has long been concerned about the
unity of Sudan. Whatever the past differences may have been,
from 1999 onwards Egypt and Sudan normalised their relations.
The Egyptian government has also entered into a constructive
dialogue with Sudan culminating in its involvement in the
Libyan-Egyptian peace initiative. In 1999 Egyptian foreign
minister Amr Moussa stated that "Egypt sees al-Bashir
as the head of the Sudanese state and as a representative
of his country". Egypt and Sudan were bound up, he
said, by "eternal, special, historical, and future
relations". In 2000, Moussa further stated: "There's
now an openness in Sudan's government. It is prepared to
listen and negotiate and reach a vision for a new Sudan
that accepts all opposition factions."
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development
The focus for many of the Sudanese peace
talks has been the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development.
Since the IGAD peace initiative commenced in September 1993,
there have been 18 rounds of talks and meetings, including
heads of state and ministerial summits. There has been a
growing frustration with this particular forum. It has also
been noted that the initial IGAD peace committee, made up
of Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya and Uganda, has not always been
the most neutral forum given that three of these countries
charged with working to secure peace in Sudan were simultaneously
involved in militarily destabilising Sudan at various points
since 1993. Human Rights Watch reported, for example, that
it "found growing involvement in the war in Sudan by
Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Uganda through arms flows, the hosting
of armed opposition forces, and some direct intervention."
The IGAD initiative dealt exclusively with dialogue between
the government and the SPLA. This excluded those northern
opposition parties within the National Democratic Alliance.
Given that the SPLA had come into the coalition in 1995
and had agreed the projection of the NDA as the single voice
of Sudanese opposition, any attempt to resolve Sudan's conflict
- which included armed insurrection by several northern
opposition groupings within the NDA - through a forum only
addressing SPLA, and arguably southern Sudanese, concerns
and issues was skewed. Additionally, neighbours such as
Egypt and Libya were excluded from involvement in this process
given the IGAD membership structure. Several of these concerns
had been voiced by Umma Party leader Sadiq al-Mahdi. In
July 1999 he outlined a threefold criticism of the IGAD
process: its restriction to "only.two parties to the
conflict"; and its exclusion of constitutional issues;
its exclusion of "other equally concerned neighbours".
Given the apparent stalemate that has characterised
the IGAD process, the attraction of the Libyan-Egyptian
peace initiative, and particularly its inclusiveness politically,
The History of Negotiations
Within days of coming to power in July
1989, the present government led by President Bashir invited
the SPLA leader, John Garang, to take part in a negotiated
settlement of the civil war. The government also declared
a unilateral cease-fire, and announced a general amnesty
for all those who had fought against the government since
1983. Garang rejected the call, and rebel forces continued
their military activity, seizing, for example, the town
of Kurmuk in eastern Sudan later that year.
At the Organisation of African Unity summit
meeting in Addis Ababa in July 1989 President Bashir confirmed
his government's commitment to securing a peaceful, negotiated
settlement of the Sudanese conflict. The Government met
with SPLA representatives in Addis Ababa from 18-22 August,
and it was agreed to continue a dialogue. This was the first
ever meeting between a government of Sudan and rebels since
the beginning of the present civil war in 1983. The Sudanese
government convened a national conference on peace issues,
which lasted six weeks from 9 September until 21 October
1989; Garang and the SPLA were invited to participate. Attended
by a large number of groups and organisations, this conference
passed several resolutions, including calls for greater
political participation and power sharing, the need to recognise
cultural and ethnic diversity and the need for a more equitable
sharing of the national wealth.
The government held a second round of negotiations
with the SPLA in Nairobi from 28 November-5 December 1989,
talks facilitated by the former United States President,
Jimmy Carter. The Khartoum government presented an agenda
for discussion and the representatives of the rebel movement
acknowledged the resolutions of the national dialogue conference
on peace as being constructive. This featured in the final
communiqué. The government addressed the issue of
federalism and decentralisation. A federal system was introduced,
whereby Sudan was divided into nine states with devolved
powers. The southern states, those with a non-Muslim majority,
were exempted from the sharia law.
In June 1991, President Bashir accepted
a peace initiative advanced by the Nigerian head-of-state,
President Ibrahim Babangida. The Nigerian government drafted
an agenda and fixed the date of this round of meetings.
These peace talks were held in the Nigerian capital, Abuja,
from 26 May-4 June 1992. Prior to this pivotal meeting,
however, the SPLA had split into two factions in August
1991: the Nasir faction, led by Dr Riek Machar, had orchestrated
the split, and the remaining faction, known then as the
Torit faction, continued to be headed by John Garang. (The
Torit faction would come to be known as SPLA-Mainstream
and then just SPLA.) The Sudanese government met with representatives
of the Nasir faction in both Nairobi, London and Frankfurt.
This range of meetings culminated in crucial proximity talks
in Frankfurt in February 1992. The Nasir rebel grouping
agreed to accept federalism as the basis for negotiating
an end to the Sudanese civil war. The Torit faction declared
itself in favour of confederation or self-determination
for southern Sudan.
The Abuja peace talks ended with the following
resolutions: that a negotiated, peaceful resolution of the
Sudanese conflict was needed and it was agreed that President
Babangida would continue to mediate between the two sides;
that Sudan was a multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-faith
country and that a constitutional and political dispensation
similar to that within Nigeria should be explored; to agree
on interim confidence-building measures; to establish a
committee to examine equitable wealth-sharing measures during
the interim period, and to resume Nigerian-sponsored talks.
The Abuja peace talks were marred by continued schisms within
the opposition ranks. William Nyuon, John Garang's deputy
within the Torit faction, had represented SPLA-Torit at
the talks. At a subsequent press conference in Kampala,
Garang claimed that Nyuon had exceeded his authority during
the Abuja talks. This disagreement resulted in another split
within the SPLA, with Nyuon leading a third faction. In
the aftermath of Abuja 1, John Garang contradicted the resolutions
agreed at Abuja 1, insisting on a confederal model of two
nations with separate constitutional arrangements and political
institutions, with separate sovereignty in the fields of
defence and foreign affairs. The Nigerian-mediated peace
process stalled for several months. This deadlock was broken
during a meeting at Entebbe in Uganda in February 1993 sponsored
by the Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. Garang assured
President Museveni that he did accept the Abuja 1 resolutions
and that he would also accept whatever was agreed by his
faction's negotiators at the forthcoming Abuja 2 peace talks.
Preliminary discussions between the government
of Sudan and the John Garang faction of the SPLA preceded
the Abuja 2 negotiations. The official talks took place
between 1-17 May 1993. A wide number of constitutional,
political and social issues were discussed. The peace-talks
focused on several themes: power-sharing between central
authority and federated states, the powers of a central
authority, the use of referendums as a means of judging
the wishes of people in southern Sudan. It was agreed that
any future dispensation would involve a distinct separation
of powers within Sudan. A number of interim measures were
discussed, including security and military considerations,
the resettlement and rehabilitation of those affected by
the civil war and the status of the south during any future
interim period. A considerable amount of common ground was
covered and agreed, and the Nigerian hosts of the talks
began drafting the final communiqué. John Garang
arrived in Abuja one day before the end of the talks and
demanded the redrafting of what had previously been agreed
upon to include that any residual powers not specifically
vested with central government would devolve to the states,
a reversal of accepted federal models whereby those powers
not vested with the states are reserved to the federal government.
These demands effectively derailed the Abuja 2 peace-talks.
The Nigerian government issued a statement outlining the
course of the talks, the agreements and disagreements, and
calling upon the two sides to continue their dialogue. Nigeria
also declared its willingness to continue its mediation
The split in the SPLA had meant that for
any meaningful attempt to negotiate a peaceful settlement
of the conflict, the government of Sudan had to engage in
meetings with the various factions. At the same time as
it was engaged in the Abuja 2 talks with that faction which
then came to style itself SPLA-Mainstream, previously known
as the Torit faction, the Khartoum administration was also
involved in negotiations in Nairobi with that faction which
came to be known as SPLA-United. (SPLA-United was an amalgamation
of the Nasir faction with those groupings led by William
Nyuon and Kerubino.)
The Nairobi talks were held from 10-25
May 1993. Both sides in these talks agreed that interim
arrangements regarding the distribution of political power
and wealth, religious issues, security arrangements and
the referendum issue would be brought into being within
a united, federal Sudan. There was also mutual agreement
on power-sharing issues, the political and constitutional
involvement of southern Sudan at a national level, human
rights guarantees, and the need for a referendum to resolve
key issues. With regard to sharia law, it was agreed that
generally-agreed basic laws would be applied at national
level, with the proviso that the states reserved the right
to enact locally-specific legislation, such as traditional
laws, in addition to federal laws. Areas of disagreement
between the government and the SPLA-United grouping included
whether or not Sudan should be administered as one or more
units, the length of the transitional period and security
arrangements during projected interim period.
Further meetings were held between the
government and SPLA-United in August 1993, significantly
inside Sudan itself, at Fashoda in the Upper Nile state.
At both these meetings in Fashoda and before, the government
and SPLA-United reached several agreements with respect
to the logistics of humanitarian assistance, the opening
up, for example, of land and river corridors for such aid,
and non-hindrance of refugee and development projects in
areas of conflict.
There were several subsequent rounds of
peace negotiations between the government and the various
rebel factions. Four rounds of peace-talks were held in
Nairobi in 1994 under the auspices of the then Inter-Governmental
Authority on Drought and Development. IGADD drew up a declaration
of principles which it hoped would constitute the basis
for resolving the Sudanese conflict (agreement on this declaration
was only reached in 1997). The government also convened
a conference in Juba itself in May 1994 for southern Sudanese
leaders and groupings to discuss a peaceful resolution of
the political and social problems facing Sudan. The convention
called for peace within Sudan, following the process of
"peace from within" and saw the establishment
of a body dedicated to securing peace in Sudan, the Supreme
Council for Peace. This was brought into being by Presidential
Decree Number 80.
The 1996 Political Charter
The 'Peace from Within' process in Sudan
was a reflection of concerns, in large part realised, that
at that time the Sudanese people could not rely on outside
guidance and assistance in their search for peace, given
the antipathy and unwillingness of several states to assist
in the search for a lasting peace in Sudan.
Dr Riek Machar, the leader of the South
Sudan Independence Movement, and Commander Kerubino Bol
Kuanyin, the leader of the SPLA/Bar-al-Gazal Group, signed
a Political Charter with the government of Sudan on 10 April
1996 in Khartoum. While stating that Sudanese unity should
be preserved, the charter agreed a referendum to determine
the political aspirations of the people of southern Sudan.
It also agreed that citizenship shall be the basis of rights
and duties. The establishment of a southern coordinating
council in southern Sudan was also agreed.
In signing the Political Charter, Dr Machar
stated that "although the real causes of war have long
been identified, yet successive national governments in
the past deliberately evaded providing a realistic and acceptable
solution to the conflict. Promises and agreements were made
but hardly honoured. Thus the war continued for forty years,
resulting in untold loss in human lives, and property, retardation
of socio-economic development, massive displacement of people,
famine, diseases and break down of social fabric and traditions
in Southern Sudan". Machar added that the signing of
the political charter "is a clear demonstration to
a commitment by both the current leadership of the Sudan
and the South Sudan Independence Movement to start a new
path to peace, stability, prosperity in the country".
The referendum issue was central to the process: "Elaborate
legal and constitutional procedures ought to be worked out
and agreed upon for the ascertainment through a referendum
of views of the people of southern Sudan with respect to
their political and constitutional status at the end of
the interim period". Commander Kerubino stated that
the Political Charter would be "safeguarding the right
of Southern Sudanese to participate in a full ruling of
the country in guaranteeing the equitable share of wealth
and resources of the country by its people and state."
Interviewed after the signing, Machar was
asked why he had chosen to sign a peace agreement with the
present government of Sudan: "We started dialogue in
1986 with Sewar El Dahab (leader of the Transitional Government
after the downfall of Numeiri) and we did not reach any
solution. During Sadiq El Mahdi's regime, we doubled our
efforts, but no progress was achieved. And when the National
Salvation Revolution came to power, we also further doubled
our efforts. We started peace talks in 1989 in Nairobi,
then under the auspices of former US president Mr Jimmy
Carter and the Abuja 1 and 2 and several IGADD efforts and
the Frankfurt talks. But Garang was always the obstacle.
We tried to convince him but in vain...And then after IGADD,
we decided to do it ourselves...we are convinced that this
government is serious to reach a solution." These views
were echoed by Kerubino who also stated: "We think
this government is serious and committed to realise peace.
And, after all, war was not our objective. We had reasons
to go to the bush and start fighting and now we are here
to challenge the government on the spot politically."
On 31 July 1996 the government also signed
an understanding with the Nuba Mountain Central Committee
of the SPLA of Commander Mohammed Haroun Kafi. Negotiations
with Sudanese rebel leaders continued for the rest of 1996
and into 1997.
The 1997 Khartoum Peace Agreement
As a result of this search for a comprehensive
peace, on 21 April 1997, a Peace Agreement was signed in
Khartoum. It was signed by the Sudanese Vice-President,
Zubeir Mohammed Salih and by Dr Riek Machar, representing
the Southern Sudan Independence Movement (SSIM), which was
the largest of the rebel groups taking part in the peace
process. Other signatories were Commander Kerubino Bol Kuanyin,
for the SPLA (Bahr al-Gazal Group), Theophilus Ochang Lotti,
for the Equatoria Defence Force, Kawac Makwei, for the South
Sudan Independents Group, Arok Thon Arok, for the SPLA/Bor
Group, Samuel Aru Bol, for the Union of Sudanese African
Parties (USAP), which was itself made up of seven political
parties - the Southern Sudan Political Association, the
People's Progressive Party, the Sudan African Congress,
the Sudan African People's Congress, the Southern Sudan
Federal Party, the Sudan African National Union and the
Sudan National Party. Also present were the Sudanese President,
General Omer al-Bashir, the Speaker of Parliament, Dr Hassan
al-Turabi, and other senior government officials, civil
servants and army representatives. The Agreement carries
into effect the principles agreed in the preliminary rounds
of discussions described above, and incorporated in the
Firstly in respect of southern aspirations
for self-determination, there is to be a free and fair -
and internationally monitored - referendum in southern Sudan
after four years, to determine whether the people of the
south desire independence or federation.
Second, in the meantime the sources of
law in Sudan are to be Islamic sharia and local custom,
but each of the 26 States created by the Twelfth Constitutional
Decree of 1995, which introduced a federal system, is to
have the right to make such supplementary laws as it finds
just or convenient. Southern Sudan would be exempt from
Islamic law. This provision settles the dispute that may
not have restarted the civil war in 1983, but which certainly
embittered it, and which the Governments led by Sadiq al-Mahdi
conspicuously failed to address in the late 1980s.
Third, the Agreement guarantees all the
usual freedoms - of movement, assembly, organisation, speech,
and press in accordance with the laws in force in the country,
and in accordance with the relevant international treaties.
The Sudanese Supreme Court is to be the custodian of the
Constitution, which will include the Agreement as entrenched
legislation, alterable only by a special process. Worth
mentioning are the articles that spell out that there shall
be no official discrimination for or against any religion.
Though overwhelmingly an Islamic country, Sudan is to give
an equality of civil and other rights to its five percent
Christian minority, and to the rather larger minority of
Fourth, the Agreement provides that Southerners
shall be equitably represented in all constitutional, legislative
and executive organs at the Federal level. It decrees the
formation of a 25-Member Southern Coordination Council,
which is to include a President, 13 Ministers and the 10
Southern Sudan Governors. One of the permanent grievances
of Southerners since before independence in 1956 has been
the monopolisation of office by Northerners. The present
Government has tried to redress this historic imbalance.
The making of a formal guarantee of affirmative action at
the official level is a logical extension.
Fifth, and following from the above, there
is to be a formal sharing of national resources between
the different regions of Sudan, with priority being given
to reconstruction in the south.
Sixth, while Arabic is to be the official
language of Sudan, English is to be the second language.
This again settles one of the Southern grievances - the
cultural domination of the Arabic North over the more English-speaking
South. Moreover, other, traditional, languages are to be
encouraged and developed, especially in the media.
The significance of the 1997 Agreement
was that it represented at that time the boldest and most
sustained effort in Sudanese history to bring about a just
and lasting settlement to the Sudanese civil war. The rebel
leaders who took part in the negotiations deserve high praise
for their statesmanship in coming to the negotiating table.
So also does the Sudanese Government, for having broken
a deadlock that had defeated every previous government -
and for having defied predictions that it would fight the
civil war to the bitter end. The Southern Coordination Council
was also established in August 1997.
It was significant that so many years of
negotiations were focused amongst Sudanese, within Sudan
itself. The result of this internal peace dialogue were
the 1996 Peace Charters, the April 1997 Peace Agreement
and subsequent agreements such as that with Dr Lam Akol,
leader of the SPLA-United. The SPLA's intransigence amid
calls to enter this process undermined the achievements
made in 1996 and 1997. That the Government was still keen
to include all parties to the conflict was demonstrated
by its acceptance of the regional Inter-Government Authority
on Development's declaration of principles in Nairobi in
A heavy price was paid by the Sudanese
government in its search for "peace from within".
In February 1998, a transport plane carrying a senior peace
delegation headed by the first Vice-President General Zubeir
Mohammed Salih, the man responsible for negotiating the
political charters and the 1997 Khartoum peace agreement,
crashed near Nasir in southern Sudan. Vice-President Zubeir
died along with 26 others, including the former rebel leader
Arok Thon Arok.
In conclusion the following can be observed.
The present Sudanese government declared within weeks of
its coming to power that there could not be a military solution
to the Sudanese conflict. It has also been the present Sudanese
government that has sought to resolve the conflict with
constitutional proposals and enacted legislation unprecedented
in Sudan's post-independence history - actions which addressed
all previous southern Sudanese aspirations as articulated
by southern Sudanese leaders. These policies constituted
a distinct break with the policies of previous governments.
In 1991 the government exempted southern Sudan from the
Islamic sharia law introduced by President Nimeiri
in 1983 and maintained by successive administrations. Khartoum
also introduced a federal system in Sudan, another long-standing
southern call, which saw the formation of 26 states, ten
of which within southern Sudan, governed by southerners.
The 1997 peace agreement saw the granting of special status
to southern Sudan with the creation of a Coordinating Council,
in effect a southern government within the Sudanese federal
system. This was incorporated into the 1998 Constitution.
All this certainly follows the "one country, two systems"
formula advanced by the SPLA. And, unlike any government
before it, the present administration also accepted the
holding of an internationally-monitored referendum whereby
the people of southern Sudan could choose between unity
or separation. This attitude must be compared to the inflexibility
of previous Sudanese governments. None offered anything
like these attempts to address the southern conflict, and
the constitutional issues at its core. This attitude must
also be compared to the intransigence of the SPLA and what
can only but be described as the lack of negotiating will
on its part. The SPLA has failed to recognise and seize
the unprecedented political and constitutional opportunities
for peace that exist. It has seemingly opted instead to
pursue a futile military solution.
The "peace from within" activities of the Sudanese
government were also gradually augmented with new constitutional
reforms and the introduction of multi-party politics in
the country. It was these changes which unfolded in the
late 1990s which came to persuade key opposition leaders
such as former prime minister Sadiq al-Mahdi that genuine
political changes had come to Sudan. It is clear that for
the SPLA their war in southern Sudan is, as stated by the
Comboni missionaries, "no longer a struggle for freedom
of the Sudanese people and for the defence of human rights".
There can also be no doubt that the international community,
and particularly the United States, has a vital role to
play in bringing pressure to bear upon the SPLA to embrace
the peace process within Sudan. Given that the IGAD process
has for some time been blocked by SPLA intransigence, it
is little wonder that we have seen the emergence of the
Libyan-Egyptian initiative as an additional, and some would
say an alternative path towards peace.
1 The SPLA is sometimes also referred to as the SPLM/A,
a reference to the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, presented
as the political component of the organisation.=20
2 'U.S. News & World Report', 9 April 2001, p.36.
3 IGAD was originally known as the Inter-Governmental Authority
on Drought and Development (IGADD): "Drought"
was later dropped from the title to become IGAD.
4 "EU and Sudan Agree to Mend Rifts Through Dialogue",
'Middle East Times', 19 November 1999. See, also, "EU
Seeks to Renew Dialogue with Sudan Broken Off in 1996",
News Article by Agence France Press, 10 November 1999. In
July 2000, the countries of Africa also selected Sudan to
represent the continent as a non-permanent member of the
United Nations Security Council. The fifty-three African
nations chose Sudan over Mauritius and Uganda to succeed
Namibia as the African representative on the Security Council.
Although ultimately unsuccessful as the result of intense
American lobbying, The Egyptian Foreign Minister said that
"There is an African and an Arab decision in Sudan's
favour concerning this issue."
5 See, for example, Majorie Lister, 'Conflict, Development
and the Lome Convention', European Development Policy Study
Group Discussion Paper No. 12, April 1999; 'Foreign and
Humanitarian Aid: Paradox and
Perspectives', Medicines Sans Frontieres, March 2000 (available
gn.shtml); Don Hubert, "Resources, Greed, and the
Persistence of Violent Conflict", 'Ploughshares Monitor',
Canada, June 2000; "Feeding the War in Sudan",
'World Press Review', December 1998.
6 Sudan has over the past three years emerged as a leader
of the region, developments which culminated in Sudan's
hosting of the Eighth Heads of State summit of the regional
Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) body,
as well as the February 2001 Heads of State summit of the
Community of Sahel-Saharan States.
7 Sudan is amongst the first nine of twenty Common Market
of East and Southern Africa member states to implement the
first stage of the envisaged Free Trade Area. This will
be Africa's first step towards full
regional integration and a common currency by 2025. See
"Sudan to Join African Free Trade Area", News
Article by Reuters, 30 October 2000.
8 See, for example, "Bush Launches Sudan Peace Effort",
'International Herald Tribune', 7 September 2001; "White
House to Launch Sudan Peace Initiative", 'The Los Angeles
Times', 5 September 2001.
9 "Developments in Sudan Favour National Reconciliation:
Mahdi", News Article by Agence France Presse, 25 December
1999. See, for example, "Opposition Leader Predicts
Solution to Sudan's Conflict", News
Article by PANA, 27 March 2000; "Sudanese Rebel Group
to Enter Khartoum Politics", News Article by Agence
France Presse, 20 March 2000; and "Mahdi's Withdrawal
Dents Opposition Alliance", News Article by PANA, 25
10 See, "Report: Sudan Accepts Egyptian-Libyan Peace
Plan", News Article by Associated Press, 24 August
1999; "Sudan 'Willing' to Enter Peace Talks, Newspaper
Says", News Article by Agence France Presse, 21
August 1999; "War-Torn Sudan Takes Step Towards National
Dialogue", News Article by Reuters, 21 August 1999.
11 "Sudano-Egyptian Cooperation, Sudanese Reconciliation",
News Article by Agence France Presse, 20 May 2000.
12 "Sudan's Opposition Leader Reiterates Support for
Egyptian-Libyan Initiative", News Article by Xinhua,
15 August 2001.
13 See, most recently, for example, "Sudanese Government
Declares Ceasefire", News Article by BBC World, 5 August
1999; "Sudanese Government Declares Comprehensive Cease-fire",
News Article by Associated Press, 5 August 1999; "Sudan
Government to Observe Ceasefire Despite SPLA Rejection",
News Article by Agence France Presse, 7 August 1999; "EU
Welcomes Cease-Fire in Sudan", News Article by Xinhua,
August 1999; "Annan Welcomes Ceasefire", News
Article by United Nations Integrated Regional Information
Network, Nairobi, 11 August 1999; "Annan Hails Sudan
Cease-fire Allowing Aid to Flow", News Article by Reuters,
6 August 1999; "Sudanese Rebels Reject Peace Plan",
News Article by BBC World, 30 August 1999; "Sudanese
Rebels Reject Government Cease-Fire", News Article
by Reuters, 5 August 1999.=20
14 See, for example, "Sudan's Government in Favour
of Ceasefire in 18-year Civil War", News Article by
Agence France Presse, 22 April 2001 and "Government
"Ready for a Ceasefire', News Article by United Nations
Integrated Regional Information Network, Nairobi, 15 May
15 "Sudan Backs Combination of Arab and African Peace
Drives", News Article by Agence France Presse, 24 October
16 See, for example, "Sudan calls for Western Pressure
on southern Rebels to Accept Ceasefire", News Article
by Agence France Presse, 26 April 2000; "US Catholic
Clerics Urged to Pressurise Garang into Accepting Cease-Fire",
News Article by Sudan News Agency, 27 March 2001; "Britain
Can Pressurize Rebels to Realize Cease-Fire, Sudanese Diplomat",
News Article by SUNA, 26 February 2001; "Sudanese Government
Welcomes Carter's Initiative to End the War in southern
Sudan", News Article by ArabicNews.com, 26 April 2001.
17 Summary of World Broadcasts, BBC, 15 December 1997.
18 See, for example, "Annan Calls on Sudan's SPLM
Leader to Sign Ceasefire", News Article by Agence France
Presse, 7 August 1999.
19 Situation of Human Rights in the Sudan, UN Special Rapporteur
Gerhart Baum, United Nations General Assembly, New York,
A/56/150, 7 September 2001.
20 'The Economist', March 1998.
21 "Thousands Dying of Want in the Midst of Sudan's
=A31m-a-day War",'The Independent' (London), 20 March
22 Even anti-government groups such as the British-based
'Nuba Survival' have observed that "Reflecting its
Marxist-Leninist roots...the SPLM is engaged in a centralised,
militaristic, single-party struggle that is antipathetic
towards freedom of association", 'Committee of the
Civil Project', available at http://www.nubasurvival.com
23 "Perpetuating an 'Emergency' in War-Torn Sudan",
by Raymond Bonnere, 'The New York Times', 11 October 1998.
24 'Aid for Sudan Ending Up With SPLA: Relief Workers',
News Article by Agence France Presse, 21 July, 1998 at 08:23:48.
25 In 2000 the United States government alone provided
US$ 93.7 million in humanitarian assistance to southern
Sudan ('Sudan: Humanitarian Crisis, Peace Talks, Terrorism,
and U.S. Policy', Issue Brief for Congress, Congressional
Research Service, Washington-DC, 8 June 2001). The international
community provides hundreds of dollars worth of additional
aid each year.
26 "Declaration of the Comboni Missionaries Working
in SouthernSudan", The Comboni Missionaries, Nairobi,
19 January 2001.
27 'The Catholic Telegraph', Online Edition No. 5, 2 February
28 The mission and church were burnt to the ground on 22
February 2001. See "Sudan Rebels Raze Town, Comboni
Mission", News Article by Catholic World News on 15
29 See 'The SPLA: Fit to Govern? ', The British-Sudanese
Public Affairs Council, London, 1998. Available at www.espac.org
30 'Appendix E: Elected Governors of Ten Southern States',
Famine in Sudan, 1998, Human Rights Watch, New York, 1998.
31 'Appendix E: Elected Governors of Ten Southern States',
Faminein Sudan, 1998, Human Rights Watch, New York, 1998.
32 Mansour Khalid (Editor), 'The Call for Democracy in
Sudan', Kegan Paul, London, 1992, p.137.
33 See, "Sudanese Rebel Leader wants 'United' Sudan
with 'Equality'", News Article by Agence France Presse,
12 August 1999; "SPLA committed to Sudan unity",
News Article by ArabicNews.com, 29 November 1997; "Separatist
leader wants Sudan to Split into Two", News Article
by BBC, 22 March 1999; "Sudanese Rebels Accused of
Planning Separate State", News Article by Agence France
Presse, 2 August 1999.
34 See, for example, "Southern Sudan's Two Rival Movements
Announce Merger", News Article by Agence France Presse,
28 May 2001 and "Sudan Rebel Group and former Rivals
Reunite", News Article by Reuters, 28 May 2001.
35 'Sudan: Human Rights Developments', World Report 1999.
36 'Situation of Human Rights in the Sudan', UN Special
Rapporteur Gerhart Baum, United Nations General Assembly,
New York, A/56/150, 7 September 2001.
37 'The Economist', March 1998.
38 'Sudan: The Ravages of War: Political Killings and Humanitarian
Disaster', Amnesty International, London, AI Index: AFR
54/29/93, 29 September 1993, p.21.
39 See, 'The Sudan Peace Summit in Nashville (USA)', posted
on Sudanese List MSU.EDU, 31 October 2001.
40 'Slavery, War and Peace in Sudan', Washington Office
on Africa, Washington-DC, 29 November 1999.
41 John Prendergast, 'Crisis Response: Humanitarian Band-Aids
in Sudan and Somalia', Pluto Press, London, 1997, p.57.
42 Ibid, p.56.
43 Ibid, p.57.
44 See, for example, "Growing Friction in Rebel-Held
Southern Sudan", News Article by BBC Online, 9 June,
45 See, 'Situation of Human Rights in the Sudan', UN Special
Rapporteur Gerhart Baum, United Nations General Assembly,
New York, A/55/374, 11 September 2000, paras.38-42.
46 "Sudan Opposition Divided Over Talks with Khartoum",
News Article by Reuters, 10 June 1999.
47 "Speech by the Chairman of SPLM and C-in-C SPLA
Dr John Garang de Mabior on the 18th Anniversary of SPLM/SPLA",
16 May 2001.
48 "Sudan's Government Calls On International Community
to Push for Cease-Fire", News Article by Associated
Press, 5 June 2001.
49 "Sudan: Peace Talks Continue While SPLA Claim New
Victory",United Nations Integrated Regional Information
Network, Nairobi, 29 September 2000.
50 There is a certain amount of divergence in respect of
estimates of the religious breakdown of the southern population.
The United States government states that 70 percent of Sudanese
are Muslim, 25 percent are
animist and five percent Christian ('Sudan: Humanitarian
Crisis, Peace Talks, Terrorism, and U.S. Policy', Issue
Brief for Congress, Congressional Research Service, Washington-DC,
8 June 2001). Human Rights Watch states that 4 percent of
the population are Christian and that about 15 percent of
southern Sudanese are Christian ("Religious Persecution
in Sudan", Testimony of Jemera Rone, Human Rights Watch
Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Subcommittee
on Africa, 25 September 1997). The Economist Intelligence
Unit in its report entitled Sudan: Country Profile 1994-95
also puts the Christian population ofsouthern Sudan at 15
percent. The definitive United States government guide,
'Sudan - A Country Study', published by the Federal Research
division and Library of Congress, states that "In the
early 1990s possibly no more than 10 percent of southern
Sudan's population was Christian." Muslims may make
up a similar percentage in southern Sudan.
51 'Great Expectations: The Civil Roles of the Churches
in Southern Sudan', Discussion Paper No.6, African Rights,
London, April 1995, p.29.=20
52 Situation of Human Rights in the Sudan, UN Special Rapporteur
Gerhart Baum, United Nations General Assembly, New York,
A/56/150, 7 September 2001.
53 See, for example, "Sudan Says Happy for South to
Secede", NewsArticle by Reuters, 7 May 1998; "Sudan
offers South secession", News Article by BBC, 22 February
1999; "Southern Secession Better Than More
War: Sudan's President", News Article by Agence France
Presse, 22 February 1999.
54 "SPLA Plays Down Deal on Referendum in southern
Sudan", NewsArticle by BBC, 7 May 1998
55 "Referendum Agreed at Sudan Peace Talks",
News Article by BBCWorld, 7 May 1998
56 Bona Malwal, "Open Letter to John Garang from Bona
Malwal", Sudan Democratic Gazette, May 2000.
57 See, "Sudanese Rebels Reject Peace Plan",
News Article by BBC News Online Network, 30 August 1999;
"Sudanese Rebels Snub Libyan-Egyptian Mediation Effort",
News Article by Agence France Presse, 30 August 1999; and
then "Sudanese Rebel Leader Supports Peace Plan: Egypt",
News Article by Agence France Presse, 31 August 1999 and
then "Sudanese Rebels Say They Can't Commit to Egyptian-Libyan
Peace Drive', News Article by Agence France Presse, 14 May
2001; "Sudanese Rebels Reject Reconciliation Accord",
News Article by Associated Press, 29 November 1999.
58 See, for example, "Sudanese Rebels Repeats Conditions
for Joining Peace Bid" News Article by Agence France
Presse, 24 August 2001.
59 See, for example, "Sudan Rejects Proposal to Suspend
Oil Operations in Return for Truce", News Article by
Agence France Presse, 28 April 2001; "Ceasefire Blocked
by Oil Demand, Says Government", United Nations Integrated
Regional Information Network, Nairobi, 2 May 2001.
60 "Carter Says Wrong Time for Mideast Talks",
News Article by Reuters, 24 April 2001.
61 "Carter, Others Say US Has Faltered in Africa",
The Boston Globe, 8 December 1999. For more details of American
support to the SPLA see "Ex-President Opposes Policy
of Aiding Khartoum's Foes", The
Washington Times, 25 September 1997; "Sudan's American-aided
guerrillas", The Economist, 25 January 1997; "Sudan
Accuses US of Supplying Rebels with Mines", News Article
by Xinhua, 21 January 1999; "US flies in howitzers
to subdue Sudan", 'Africa Analysis' (London), No 290,
6 February 1998; "Albright Meets Sudan Rebels, Pledges
US Support", News Article by Reuters, 10 December 1997;
"U.S. Said to Promise Aid to
Sudanese Rebel Areas", News Article by Reuters, 2 June
62 "Ex-President Opposes Policy of Aiding Khartoum's
Foes", 'The Washington Times', 25 September 1997.
63 "US Masterminds 3-Pronged War on Sudan", 'Africa
Analysis' (London), 7 February 1997.
64 "Carter, Others Say US Has Faltered in Africa",
'The Boston Globe', 8 December, 1999.
65 See, for example, amongst many overtures: "Interview
- Sudan Wants to Bury Hatchet with US", News Article
by Reuters, 20 May 1999; "Sudan Wants Dialogue With
US, Bashir Tells Envoy", News Article by
Reuters, 7 March 2000; "Sudan Wants Better Ties with
US's Bush", News Article by Agence France Presse, 2
February 2001 and "Sudan Welcomes U.S. Peace Involvement
but Urges Neutrality", News Article by Associated Press,
28 May 2001.
66 See, for example, "U.S. House Backs Efforts to
Aid Sudan", News Article by Reuters, 13 June 2001;
"Sudanese Rebels to Receive Dlrs 3 Million in Assistance",
News Article by Associated Press, 25 May 2001,
and 'U.S. Slates $3 Million for Sudan's Opposition",
'The Washington Post', 25 May 2001.
67 This encouragement has included debt relief as well
as significant increases in the levels of British and American
aid to these countries. The 'Financial Times' of 26 February
1997 reported, for example, that Uganda was said to be expecting
debt relief of between US$ 252 and US$ 386 million in April
68 "Sudan, Ethiopia Say They Have Normalised Relations",
News Article by Agence France Press, 5 March 2000.
69 "Sudan Set to Begin Oil Export to Ethiopia",
News Article by PANA, 4 November 2000.
70 See, "Sudan, Eritrea Resume Diplomatic Relations",
News Article by PANA, 4 January 2000.
71 See, for example, "Carter's Patience Pays Off in
Africa", 'The Washington Post', 12 December 1999; "Uganda,
Sudan Agree On Ending Rebel Activity", News Article
by Reuters, 8 December 1999.
72 "Kategaya Takes Up Issue with Defence", 'New
Vision' (Kampala), 3 March 2000.
73 "Museveni Warns Sudan on LRA Rebels", 'New
Vision' (Kampala), 25 May 2000.
74 "Uganda, Sudan End Peace Talks, Report Progress",
News Article by Reuters, 27 September, 2000.
75 See, for example, statements by Osama El-Baz, political
adviser to Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak: "El-Baz:
Sudan is the Strategic Depth of Egypt", News Article
by ArabicNews.com, 14 September 1999;
"Egypt Reiterates Backing for Sudan's Territorial Integrity",
News Article by Xinhua, 22 December 1999.=20
76 "Egypt and Sudan Restore 'Full' Diplomatic Relations",
News Article by Agence France Presse, 23 December 1999;
"Focus - Egypt Restores Diplomatic Ties With Sudan",
News Article by Reuters, 23
77 "Egypt Hails Sudanese President's Visit",
News Article by Xinhua, 22 December 1999.
78 "Focus - Egypt's Moussa in Sudan to Discuss Peace",
News Article by Reuters, 4 January 2000.
79 'Sudan. Global Trade, Local Impact: Arms Transfers to
all Sides in the Civil War in Sudan', Human Rights Watch,
New York, August 1998.
80 "Former Sudanese Prime Minister Sadek El-Mahdi
Addresses the Sudan Issue", News Article by ArabicNews.com,
2 July 1999.=20
81 'Sudanow' (Khartoum), May 1996, p.15.
82 'Sudanow' (Khartoum), May 1996, p.14.