Sudan – No Easy Ways Ahead

Sudan – No Easy Ways Ahead

report

Sudan – No Easy Ways Ahead

Towards the end of the six-year interim period defined in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), Sudan is potentially sliding into yet another crisis. The general elections in April – the first in 24 years – represent a rare test of confidence for the country’s incumbent elites. For many observers, however, the elections are merely a prelude to the referendum on the future status of South Sudan scheduled for early 2011.
Both the general elections and the referendum come at the end of a transitional period that has, in many ways, been more about stagnation than about transition. The implementation of the CPA has often been delayed and was marred by a lack of trust between its signatories: the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM). As a consequence, the agreement has largely failed to realize democratic transformation and to make the unity of the country attractive. Instead, political tensions in the run-up to the elections indicate that older conflicts still persist, and that the referendum will only reconfigure challenges. The already fragile situation could easily trigger a new outbreak of violence. It is therefore of the utmost urgency to prepare for the post-CPA period in Sudan. In discussions about the future of the country, and in the day-to-day business of diplomats and international observers, the perspective beyond 2011 has only recently started to receive attention. Not all events of the coming years are fully predictable, of course. Yet it is possible to delineate potential scenarios, and to identify the political options they open up for different actors.

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Contents

Preface

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Contents 

Alex de Waal: Sudan’s Choices: Scenarios Beyond the CPA
Atta El-Battahani: Sudan Votes: The 2010 Elections and Prospects for Democratic Transformation
John G. Nyuot Yoh: The Road Map Countdown – Dynamics and Implications of Possible Divorce
Info Box: Pieter Wezeman: Arms supplies to North and South Sudan
Marina Peter: Blue Nile, Nuba Mountains and Abyei: Three Areas in Transition
Roland Marchal: The Regional Dimension of Sudanese Politics
Info Box: Axel Harneit-Sievers: Oil in Sudan: Fueling Conflict – Fueling Development?
Peter Schumann: International Actors in Sudan: The Politics of Implementing Comprehensive Peace

 

 
 

Preface

Towards the end of the six-year interim period defined in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), Sudan is potentially sliding into yet another crisis. The general elections in April – the first in 24 years – represent a rare test of confidence for the country’s incumbent elites. For many observers, however, the elections are merely a prelude to the referendum on the future status of South Sudan scheduled for early 2011.

Both the general elections and the referendum come at the end of a transitional period that has, in many ways, been more about stagnation than about transition. The implementation of the CPA has often been delayed and was marred by a lack of trust between its signatories: the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM). As a consequence, the agreement has largely failed to realize democratic transformation and to make the unity of the country attractive. Instead, political tensions in the run-up to the elections indicate that older conflicts still persist, and that the referendum will only reconfigure challenges. The already fragile situation could easily trigger a new outbreak of violence. It is therefore of the utmost urgency to prepare for the post-CPA period in Sudan. In discussions about the future of the country, and in the day-to-day business of diplomats and international observers, the perspective beyond 2011 has only recently started to receive attention. Not all events of the coming years are fully predictable, of course. Yet it is possible to delineate potential scenarios, and to identify the political options they open up for different actors. The Heinrich Böll Foundation, which has been working both with civil society partners in Sudan and on Sudan-related issues in the German context, has put together this publication in order to reflect on such scenarios. We have been fortunate to bring together an exceptional and diverse group of authors to discuss political perspectives for the country. The chapters of this volume reflect the different backgrounds and perspectives of this group, but also their shared concern for a democratic and peaceful Sudan.

In the introductory chapter, Alex de Waal outlines the enduring features that underlie Sudanese politics, and develops scenarios for the future of the country after the end of the CPA. He particularly emphasizes that the current debate around unity vs. secession may easily obscure an equally important question: whether or not, after decades of conflict and institutional decay, Sudan will remain governable at all. Atta El-Battahani, one of the most respected advocates of democracy in Khartoum, continues from there. He traces Sudan’s largely unsuccessful attempts at democratic transformation since independence, putting current efforts into historical perspective. El-Battahani then goes on to provide a concise and well-informed guide to the 2010 general elections: a brief who’s who of the Sudanese political scene, including all major parties, their internal dynamics, and electoral strategies.

John Yoh adds a Southern perspective to this picture. His contribution critically assesses the SPLM’s five years as a “liberation movement in power,” and it stresses the urgency for Southerners to think beyond the 2011 referendum. Yoh’s analysis of Southern Sudan is complemented by Marina Peter’s chapter on the future of the “three areas.” People in Blue Nile, the Nuba Mountains, and Abyei – three regions that challenge the clear-cut North-South divide in Sudan – are increasingly concerned that the SPLM’s support for independence might leave them high and dry. Informed by her long-time work with Sudanese civil society, Peter argues for an inclusive political process that gives the population of the “three areas” a real say in their future.

The last two chapters focus on the external dimension of Sudanese politics and conflicts. Roland Marchal disentangles the complex web of interests, rivalries, alliances, and dependencies that links Sudan to its neighbors in the region. He then develops scenarios on how the possible secession of Southern Sudan could affect this precarious regional order. Finally, Peter Schumann shows how an initially local conflict became the concern of a variety of international actors, and outlines the sometimes conflicting interests of key players. Drawing on his experience with the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), Schumann argues that a successful international engagement in Sudan does not necessarily require an increase in means, but rather a clear political mandate and an end to the deliberate use of ambiguity among the main stakeholders.

This publication has been made to challenge the reader to look beyond the fragmentation of Sudan. There is an urgent need for political perspectives for the country as a whole, irrespective of the results of the 2011 referendum. The independence of Southern Sudan may answer some questions, but it leaves many fundamental problems unaddressed and creates a number of new ones – from the issue of citizenship to the distribution of oil revenues. None of these problems can be solved unilaterally; they all require the readiness for compromise and cooperation across borders.

The international community, including Germany, can play a constructive role in facilitating workable post-CPA arrangements. The upcoming elections and the 2011 referendum usher in a time of choices for Sudan: imperfect choices perhaps, but crucial ones nevertheless. The contributions to this volume concur that none of the ways ahead is easy and straightforward, and that the risk of a return to open conflict is very acute. But they also give an impression of how the decisions taken now may be a first step away from the problems that have plagued Sudan for decades.

Berlin, March 2010

Kirsten Maas-Albert
Head of Africa Department

Toni Weis
Project Manager

 
 

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