August 19, 2009 (JUBA) —Sudan’s dominant National Congress Party (NCP) and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) signed an accord today regarding the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).
- US Special Envoy to Sudan Scott Gration (C) looks on as Malik Agar (L), deputy chairman of the south’s ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and Ghazi Salahuddin (R), a senior official in the north’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP), shake hands after signing a deal agreeing to bolster a 2005 peace agreement in the southern Sudanese capital Juba (AFP)
The agreement was brokered by the US Special Envoy to Sudan Scott Gration who created the tripartite commission since last June to review and resolve outstanding issues in the 2005 peace agreement between North and South.
The US state department said that today’s agreement “commits the NCP and SPLM to a series of timed benchmarks for implementing key aspects of the CPA, including border demarcation and election preparation”.
The head of the US bureau at the Sudanese foreign ministry Nasr Al-Deen Wali told the state news agency (SUNA) that the issues of referendum and the census remain outstanding and further discussions on them will commence during the second week of September.
The London based Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper quoting informed sources that attended the Juba meetings said that the NCP stuck to its insistence that the census results are to be used to determine the geographical constituencies for the purposes of the upcoming 2010 elections.
The SPLM wants the geographical constituencies to be based on the 1956 census percentages alleging that the 2008 census results were “rigged” understating the population of the South and overstating that of Darfur.
According to the newspaper, the SPLM proposed alternatives all of which were rejected by the NCP.
This month the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) Chief Electoral Affairs Officer Ray Kennedy suggested that the SPLM position would delay elections.
“What I would say is that we do face a very tight timeframe. Anything that potentially delays any part of that timeframe could have an impact on when the elections are held,” Kennedy said.
The two sides also could not reach an agreement on the referendum law which is crucial for the 2011 self determination process by Southerners.
Among the key sticking points is the percentage of votes required in the referendum to declare it favoring independence, the population allowed to vote, determining the post-referendum process and the share of Sudan’s debts the South would carry with it if it secedes.
The NCP is pushing for a 75% ‘Yes’ vote for South Sudan to be allowed to secede, something the SPLM rejects.
Furthermore, the SPLM rejects the participation of Southerners living outside the South in the referendum.
In a testimony before US lawmakers, Gration expressed worry that skipping the already delayed 2010 national elections may make it very difficult to hold credible referendum in Abyei and South Sudan in 2011.