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Darfur’s Fragile Peace Agreement

Darfur’s Fragile Peace Agreement

Nairobi/Brussels: The Darfur Peace Agreement has little chance of bringing any stability to the region unless the parties comply strictly and the international community acts decisively to support the peacekeeping mission.

Darfur’s Fragile Peace Agreement,* the latest International Crisis Group briefing, examines the flaws and shortcomings of last month’s Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA). The deal could be positive, but it depends heavily upon the goodwill of the parties, including the Khartoum government, which has broken many commitments in the past. International actors must shore up its security provisions, improve the return and recovery packages for displaced persons, bring in holdouts who have yet to sign, and rapidly deploy UN peacekeepers with Chapter VII authority.

“There continues to be serious violence since the DPA was concluded”, says John Prendergast, Crisis Group Senior Adviser. “With only one of the three rebel delegations as signatory, and security arrangements that don’t address the underlying violence, instability may in fact continue to worsen”.

The DPA, signed under African Union (AU) auspices on 5 May 2006 by Sudan’s government and the faction of the insurgent Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) led by Minni Arkou Minawi, is a half step towards ending the violence. But the SLA faction of Abdel Wahid Mohamed Nur and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) refused to sign. The DPA has worryingly accelerated the break-up of the insurgency along loose ethnic lines, and the AU must make it a priority to widen acceptance by all stakeholders.

Other steps are urgently required. The UN Security Council should apply sanctions against any side, including the government, that violates the ceasefire or attacks civilians, peacekeepers, or humanitarian operations. And it must authorise deployment of a robust UN force to take over from the AU force by 1 October, with a Chapter VII mandate to use all necessary means to protect civilians and assist in DPA implementation, including by military action against Janjaweed, rebel and hard-line government spoilers.

The EU and NATO should work with the UN and AU to ensure that there is capability to respond quickly to ceasefire violations or provocations by any party. A rapid reaction force should be deployed as a first component of the UN mission, and countries with advanced military capabilities should detail senior officers to the headquarters of the peacekeeping force to bolster overall professionalism.

“Whether the agreement will hold now largely depends on whether the parties observe its security provisions and whether peacekeepers of the AU, and eventually the UN, can hold back the many spoilers who want to undermine it”, says Suliman Baldo, Director of Crisis Group’s Africa Program.

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