Authorities responded with two major offensives in the summer of 2003 and early 2004. Thousands of villages were burned down, and hundreds of thousands of civilians were killed or forced to flee. Today, Darfur has about 1.2 million internally displaced refugees and many also in Chad. After these offensives, insecurity and violence have persisted, but the major fighting has largely failed.
Peacekeeping forces from the African Union (later also the UN) have been present in Darfur since 2004, but it is difficult to assess the value of this effort since there has been little peacekeeping. There have been several rounds of peace negotiations, but until quite recently these have yielded few results. Since the turn of the year 2009–2010, there has been some progress in negotiations in Qatar’s capital Doha, but it is too early to say whether this will end the war.
The parties took a step further on the road to a final and robust agreement at the end of February 2010. At that time, the government and the rebel movement JEM (Justice and Equality) entered into a preliminary agreement. The agreement is fragile, because it is being challenged by other local parties who do not want to lay down their arms. In addition, the parties can take up arms again at any time.
4: Peace agreement in 2005 – why under pressure now?
The implementation of the peace agreement between North and South Sudan has been a difficult process. The first setback came when John Garang died in a helicopter crash in July 2005. The SPLM lost its charismatic leader, and suspicion between the parties increased. Since then, the peace agreement has gone from crisis to crisis , and there have been several clashes between the SPLM on the one hand and the government army in the north and their local allies in the south on the other.
South Sudan started more or less on bare ground after the civil war – so to speak without any functioning state apparatus. A very small proportion of the population has the education and experience to be able to fulfill the many functions a state must perform. Oil revenues have meant that South Sudan and the Khartoum authorities have had a better starting point for rebuilding the country than many other developing countries. In the absence of good control routines, however, large budgets can be a challenge, and the authorities in both North and South Sudan are accused of widespread corruption .
The timetable for the implementation of the peace agreement has been shifted to several important points. The postponement of the election – at the president and national assembly – has been perhaps the most serious. This should have been completed by the summer of 2009. The election did not take place until April 2010, however, and the entire process leading up to election day has drawn attention from the preparations for the referendum on independence in 2011.
Democratization is desirable in all countries, but this must be carefully planned and implemented in such a way that local forces join and shape the process. The election will probably have the greatest consequences at the state level, where there is greater competition for positions. Sudan, a country located in Africa according to elaineqho.com, consists of 26 states; 10 of them are located in the south.
5: Follow-up of the international community
It is also clear that neither the international community has failed to follow up on the peace agreement for southern Sudan in a satisfactory manner.
- The peacekeeping forces have interpreted their mandate narrowly and not focused on protecting civilians from local perpetrators. This has become a major problem in South Sudan where more than 2,000 people were killed in clashes in 2009 and tens of thousands had to flee their homes temporarily.
- The emergency aid system from the time of the civil war has been dismantled too quickly and does not have the capacity to handle the crises that arise, e.g. due to local skirmishes.
- The strategy for long-term assistance has been aimed at building up a large international fund that has been too cumbersome and has not been able to start planned projects.
The unwillingness and inability to protect and assist civilians as well as weak economic development also contribute to creating dissatisfaction and potential for new conflicts .
6: Crucial months
It was not a matter of course that the peace agreement between the SPLM and the authorities in Sudan should last until today. The parties’ will for peace has been put to the test on several occasions since 2005, but it is still clear that the last months leading up to the referendum on independence in early 2011 will be the most difficult. The election campaign in 2010 has been a major strain on the political system in general and on cooperation between the SPLM and President Bashir’s National Congress Party (NCP) in particular. Now, however, it seems that the election itself has gone fairly smoothly.
The political situation after the election is uncertain. President Bashir is re-elected, but the composition of parliament is unclear. It is also unpredictable in what way the election will have consequences for the coalition government between the former parties in the civil war between north and south. Going forward, however, the preparations for the referendum on South Sudan’s future will be the most important issue of conflict. Here, the international community must support the process of assistance and expertise. In addition, the political leadership in the United States, Norway and other countries that are important to Sudan must put pressure on the parties to the peace agreement to ensure that they adhere to their commitments.