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Challenges Await Partners To Sudan Peace Deal

Major challenges await partners to north-south Sudanese peace deal - UN report

4 February 2008 - The parties to the January 2005 comprehensive peace agreement (CPA) ending the long-running north-south civil war in Sudan still face major challenges in implementing the deal, despite the recent resolution of a stand-off between the two sides, the United Nations says in a new report.

Commending Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and the country's First Vice-President Salva Kiir for resolving their differences through dialogue, the report from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon states that the CPA will only stay on track if the two sides implement their mutually agreed decisions as pledged.

"Although the Government of National Unity has been restored, its resilience will depend on its ability to ensure sustained implementation of the Agreement," he writes, noting that the two sides have failed to meet the deadlines for the redeployment of forces.

"In the absence of a demarcated boundary, the two sides continue to dispute each other's presence in certain areas. It is extremely important to complete the redeployment of forces."

Signed in 2005, the CPA ended the 21-year war between the Sudanese armed forces (SAF) and the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) that killed at least two million people and displaced 4.5 million others.

Mr. Ban says more progress is needed on the formation of joint integrated units of the SAF and the SPLA, particularly if the people of Southern Sudan vote for unity in a referendum scheduled for 2011.

But he stresses that one of the most critical challenges ahead remains the issue of Abyei, a disputed region between north and south.

"Since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the region has had no administrative governance structures and the local population is therefore deprived of basic services. I am extremely concerned about the recent clashes between SPLA and local tribes in the area. Those clashes have resulted in considerable loss of life and challenged the fragile peace on the ground."

The Secretary-General calls for a two-pronged approach to Abyei that includes political dialogue between the Government and the SPLA and the stabilization of the situation on the ground between the local traditional communities.

In addition, the demarcation of the overall north-south boundary must be resolved as a matter of priority, he writes, as the ongoing delays have implication for other matters, such as the census, elections and power- and wealth-sharing arrangements.

ENDS

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