WASHINGTON, D.C. – In February 2010, Sudan is scheduled to hold its first democratic elections in 24 years. General elections are required by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, or CPA, which ended a second civil conflict between northern and southern Sudan that lasted two decades, killed 2 million people, and displaced 4 million more. The original premise and promise of elections—democratic transformation, consolidating the peace, and making unity attractive—have been marred by the ruling National Congress Party’s four-year pattern of obstructionism, which has stalled progress on the implementation of the CPA, and sapped good will between North and South.
Enough’s latest strategy paper, “Sudan’s Election Paradox,” argues that the international community needs to lower its expectations for the election and develop a multilateral strategy to press the Government of National Unity to enact meaningful reforms regardless of who wins in 2010, revitalize CPA implementation, and establish a framework for talks in Darfur that are consistent with the power-sharing provisions of the CPA.
“The landscape in Sudan has changed in the four years since the CPA was signed, and the United States and key actors have to adjust their expectations for the elections and recalibrate their strategy to revive CPA implementation,” says Enough Project Policy Advisor Colin Thomas-Jensen. “The goal of international support should be an overarching peace for all of Sudan accompanied by a peaceful vote that helps create momentum and builds confidence for implementing the remaining major CPA provisions, particularly how to hold a credible self-determination referendum in the South.”
Adds Enough Executive Director John Norris, “The United States is pouring a lot of money into support for the elections at a time when insecurity and violence are intensifying in the South and it is almost impossible to imagine a free and fair ballot in Darfur on the planned timetable. For many, it is unclear right now how the elections fit into the framework of a broader strategic approach to a peace process.”
The United States and other key actors need to lower their expectations for the upcoming February 2010 national elections in Sudan and develop a multilateral strategy to press the Government of National Unity—the ruling National Congress Party in particular —to enact meaningful reforms regardless of who wins in 2010, revitalize CPA implementation, and establish a framework for talks in Darfur that are consistent with the power-sharing provisions of the CPA.
The precarious peace between northern and southern Sudan stands at a crucial crossroads. Intended by its architects as the cornerstone of peace in a country fractured by conflict, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, or CPA, has been hamstrung by the National Congress Party’s intransigence, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement’s growing pains, and the international community’s neglect.
Disorder within the Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA, leadership provides an opportunity for negotiators to pursue the conclusion of a deal with LRA leader Joseph Kony. The time to strike—diplomatically—is now.
By John Prendergast and Adam O'Brien | Dec 13, 2007