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Sudan Peace and Democracy Watch

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Peace will not come to Darfur in isolation. If Southern Sudan goes back to war, then there will be no chance for peace in Darfur. If Chad remains on fire, Darfur will continue to burn. If the Lord’s Resistance Army continues to undermine regional security, peace in all of Sudan remains more elusive. And peace will not be lasting in Sudan until there is a more inclusive, democratic governing system in the country.

1. What is the Comprehensive Peace Agreement?
2. What is the Darfur peace process?
3. How are the CPA and the Darfur peace process related?
4. Why does ENOUGH support a democratic transformation in Sudan?
5. What is the status of CPA implementation?
5.1. What is the impasse over Abyei?
5.2 What is the status of the elections?
5.3 What is the future of the self-determination referendum?
6. What is the status of the Darfur peace talks?
6.1 What are the rebels saying?
6.2 What are Darfurians saying?
6.3 What are Darfurians in the Diaspora saying?
7. What should the U.S. and the rest of the international community be doing now to ensure peace and democracy in Sudan?

The Sudan Peace and Democracy Watch is a regular update on efforts to implement the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, or CPA, achieve a lasting peace for Darfur, and promote the democratic transformation of Sudan.

1. What is the Comprehensive Peace Agreement?

Signed on January 9, 2005, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement ended the 22-year civil war between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, or SPLM. The United States worked tirelessly with a regional mediation team from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, or IGAD, and a core group of allies—the United Kingdom, Norway, and Italy—to push the parties toward a final deal and has a significant stake in keeping the CPA on track.

2. What is the Darfur peace process?

Since early in 2004, the international community has engaged in sporadic efforts to negotiate a ceasefire and peace agreement for Darfur. These efforts yielded the Darfur Peace Agreement in 2006, but that flawed agreement led to further fragmentation of the rebel groups and complicated current peacemaking efforts. The current peace process is led jointly by the United Nations and the African Union through a pair of senior diplomats— Jan Eliasson, the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy, and Salim Ahmed Salim, AU Special Envoy on the Darfur Conflict.

3. How are the CPA and the Darfur peace process related?

Negotiating peace in Darfur requires a commitment to implementing the CPA, and vice versa (see ENOUGH report An All Sudan Solution). Interlocking peace agreements which address these power imbalances and lay the groundwork for democratic change are the best chance for an end to cycles of genocide, crimes against humanity, dictatorship, and deadly conflict in Sudan. The challenge for the joint UN/AU negotiating team for Darfur is to broker an agreement that fits within the framework for democratic transformation established by the CPA.

4. Why does ENOUGH support a democratic transformation in Sudan?

By setting forth a timetable for elections, the CPA seeks to give Sudanese citizens significantly more control over how their country is governed. The fundamental cause of war throughout Sudan is the concentration of wealth and absolute power in the hands of unrepresentative elites—principally the ruling National Congress Party, or NCP. The establishment of strong democratic institutions and processes in Sudan will be a key prerequisite for peace because in a free and fair election the NCP would almost certainly lose its firm grip on power. (see ENOUGH report Democracy: A Key to Peace in Sudan).

Legitimate elections have the potential to reshape the distribution of political power at all levels of governance in Sudan. Elections are mandated to take place at six levels of government: the Presidency of the Government of National Unity, the Presidency of the Government of Southern Sudan, the National Assembly in Khartoum, the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly in Juba, 25 State Legislatures, and 25 State Governors.

5. What is the status of CPA implementation?

For two years, the SPLM has expressed frustration at the snail’s pace implementation of the CPA, and blames the NCP for its lack of commitment to peace and the democratic transformation of the country. In October 2007, that frustration led the SPLM to suspend its participation in and recall its ministers from the Government of National Unity. Agreement was reached in late December to return to the Unity government, but critical issues remain unaddressed.

Several critical milestones must be achieved to implement the CPA, the most important of which are resolving the impasse over the oil-rich area of Abyei, carrying out free-and-fair national elections, and completing the referendum on self-determination for Southern Sudan. The cost of failure is immense: a return to war would devastate the South and doom peace efforts in Darfur.

5.1. What is the impasse over Abyei?

Both the SPLM and NCP claim the area of Abyei to be owned by their respective supporters, the Ngok Dinka or the Arab Missairiya. The NCP’s rejection of the July 2005 Abyei Border Commission report—defining the North-South border in the oil-rich area of Abyei—did not bode well for the implementation of the CPA. While the SPLM accepted the commission’s report, the NCP sighted favoritism to the Dinka in that report and consequently denounced it. The NCP’s rejection of the “final and binding report” may have damaging consequences to Sudan’s peace and stability as a whole. It is now the litmus test that will reveal the will of the parties, in particular the NCP, to achieve lasting peace. (see ENOUGH Report Abyei: Sudan’s ‘Kashmir’)

Because of Bashir’s rejection of the Abyei Protocol, the local government provided for in the Protocol has never been set up. And the two percent of revenues generated from oil extracted from the Abyei area remain unavailable to help improve public services in Abyei, further heightening tensions. Although Khartoum’s oil transactions are thoroughly opaque, if reports that the NCP is in a rush to essentially drain those oil deposits geographically subject to the Abyei Protocol are accurate, this could negatively shape Abyei’s economic situation well into the future.

5.2 What is the status of the elections?

One of the fundamental drawbacks to the political transformation in Sudan is the postponement of the census needed for elections in 2009 and the referendum of self-determination for the south in 2011—requisite events for the sustainability of the CPA.

This latest delay of the national census will be added to a long list of unfulfilled promises that reinforce the accusations that the NCP is hardly interested in peace, allegations that negatively affect any attempt to reach a settlement in Darfur. The CPA mandated that the census be undertaken by July 2007 to allow sufficient time to collect, process, and analyze the data before the election. Because of funding delays by the NCP, however, the census date slipped from July 2007 to November 2007, then to February 2008, and most recently to April 2008. If the date slips yet again, the rainy season will prevent the census team from gaining full access to Southern Sudan, to the advantage of the NCP.

The NCP has also made unilateral changes to the census questionnaire that will complicate efforts to determine how many Southern Sudanese live in the North. Because the war was waged in the South, the majority of Sudan’s displaced are Southerners, and between 2 and 4 million are thought to now reside in Northern Sudan. If the census is to accurately determine the number of Northerners and Southerners throughout the entire country, there must be a way to determine the precise number of Southerners who reside in the North and the precise number of Northerners who reside in the South.

Finally, Sudan’s Election Bill was scheduled to be passed by the National Assembly by December 2007, but the Assembly failed to do so. The best case scenario presents major challenges. Even if the law passes in February, the electoral commission established in March, and the election scheduled for March 2009, the commission will only have one year to accomplish the many difficult tasks to hold successful elections.

5.3 What is the future of the self-determination referendum?

The premise of the CPA is that during the six years between the signing of the agreement in 2005 and the self-determination referendum in 2011, the NCP, SPLM, and the agreement’s international guarantors and supporters work to “make unity attractive,” thereby increasing the likelihood that Southerners would vote for national unity. However, given that the war was fought principally in the South and Southerners were the primary victims of a conflict that killed 2 million people, the burden to make unity attractive rests overwhelmingly with the NCP in Khartoum. The clock is ticking, and the NCP must soon demonstrate a real commitment to unity. At this juncture, the chances for a vote for unity seem more remote and Southern independence more probable.

6. What is the status of the Darfur peace talks?

Hopes were high for peace talks that convened in early November in Sirte, Libya. (see ENOUGH Report A Strategy for Success in Sirte) However, the UN/AU joint mediation team made a critical mistake by trying to unify the more than 25 rebel groups and assemble them all in one place without a clearly defined vision for an end state that resonates with Darfur’s civilian population. A critical majority of the rebel groups refused to attend the talks, and mediators delayed the process to get more of the rebels on board. Salim and Eliason lacked a clear strategy on how to bring the rebels to the table, running the risk of dragging the process to a point that renders the attempted solutions unworkable to all parties. With a new U. S. envoy for Sudan, Ambassador Rich Williamson, there is hope that new blood will be injected into the process by getting the United States aggressively involved.

Consultations aimed at reviving the Darfur peace process are sputtering along dual tracks, and missing a crucial third track.

  • In Libya, directionless consultations involving some rebel factions and the Government of Sudan continue. In an effort to resuscitate Sirte, the AU/UN mediation kept the lights on by maintaining a scant presence of the parties that attended the opening session. The Libyans are placing high hopes on their efforts to bring back the parties to the table, but it appears that the Libya track will soon reach a dead end.
  • The second track must be strengthened immediately: broader consultations with civil society groups in Darfur, including the community leaders among displaced people, women’s groups, and tribal chiefs. Creating such a forum would lead to a wider consensus among Darfurians on the issues that matter the most to them, and to bring to the table the non-rebel component that has been conspicuously absent from the peace process thus far. Critical to the success of this dialogue is the legitimacy of the participants, which should include the Arab tribes who seek a peaceful settlement to the crisis. Mediators must be cognizant, however, that a large number of actors could hamstring the process, and seek to overcome this constraint by presenting concrete proposals.
  • The missing track is aggressive shuttle diplomacy—visiting rebel leaders, government officials, and regional actors—using a draft agreement to reinvigorate the talks.

Given such inadequate efforts, it is safe to say that the Darfur Peace Process is stalled. The mediation has nothing new to offer, the Libyans are in Sirte waiting for the rebel groups to show up, and they in turn are waiting for a miracle to put this process back on track. A source very close to the mediation and talking to ENOUGH under condition of anonymity warned that very soon both Salim and Eliason will resign as envoys for the AU and the United Nations because they are both “discouraged, and out of options.” Their futures remain to be seen.

6.1 What are the rebels saying?

Suliman Jamous, a senior figure in the Sudan Liberation Movement/Unity rebel group, commented in a phone interview that the visits to Darfur by Envoys Jan Eliasson and Salim Salim are brief and hardly enough to “finish the greetings.” Jamous accuses the U.N. and AU envoys of spending all of their time in Khartoum speaking with the government but devoting very little time to the rebel groups. “They arrive for less than three hours and rush back under the guise that the window to land in El Fashir airport closes after 6:00 p.m.,” he told ENOUGH.

Moreover, the rebels complained bitterly that the mediation team’s staff stationed in Darfur is not as active as they could be; the rebels say they only see U.N. and AU mediation staff when they serve as advanced teams to their bosses in their sporadic and brief visits to rebel-held areas.

6.2 What are Darfurians saying?

Civil society leaders (and many rebel leaders) want the mediation team to present a draft agreement to begin a new round of discussions. “The time for shuttle diplomacy is over,” says Professor Mahmoud Mousa Mahmoud, a leading Darfurian civil society activist in Khartoum. “We would like to see real engagement with Darfurians of all walks of life, not just the Government of Sudan and the rebel groups.”

When U.N. Envoy Eliasson met in December with rebel leaders and tribal chiefs, he was confronted by the leaders of displaced communities who told him that he is not welcome in Darfur partly because of statements he made about arms in the displaced persons’ camps. One of the camp leaders accused Eliasson of “marketing Khartoum’s false propaganda.” The camp leader continued, “[Eliasson] tries every time he comes to Darfur to distort our cause.” Community leaders reiterated their demand for quick deployment of the U.N./AU peacekeeping force and expressed great skepticism about the viability of Libya as a venue for meaningful peace talks because of the negative influence of Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi.

Inside Darfur, the dialogue between community leaders and civil society organizations continued, creating several networks of leaders who are in regular contact with Darfurians abroad. One such network is the Darfur Working Group, which is headed by prominent community leaders inside Sudan and in the Diaspora. According to Dr. Hamid Ali, “the efforts of the Darfur Working Group are geared toward rallying Darfurians behind a goal of sustainable peace and unity among all ethnic groups.”

6.3 What are Darfurians in the Diaspora saying?

The failure of Sirte resulted in a surge of activity in the Diaspora. In the United States, for instance, the Save Darfur Coalition, the law firm Baker and McKenzie, the Public International Law & Policy Group, and the U.S. Institute for Peace have collectively sponsored two workshops for the Darfurian civil society leaders in the United States. The Darfur Leaders Network benefited from marathon training on negotiations and other skills that yielded six draft documents that cover the issues that are likely to be on the table in the coming rounds of peace talks (where and whenever they convene). Several committees were formed to contact the civil society actors inside Darfur, the rebel groups as well as Darfurian Diaspora elsewhere for a buy-in on these issues, and a wider discussion prior to the next talks.

7. What should the U.S. and the rest of the international community be doing now to ensure peace and democracy in Sudan?

The international community must adopt a comprehensive approach to Sudan’s conflicts with the following objectives:

Negotiate an inclusive peace deal in Darfur: Mediators should develop a clear end state for the talks and put together a draft agreement that can spur debate and demonstrate to Darfurians that the U.N. and AU process will actually address the core issues that must be dealt with in Darfur. After developing the draft, mediators should undertake rounds of shuttle diplomacy to begin to present the draft to stakeholders in the field, including key civil society and political leaders who have thus far been left out of the process.

To support its newly named Special Envoy, Ambassador Rich Williamson, the United States should authorize two deputies—one for Darfur and one for the CPA—and back these senior diplomats with a full-time team based in the region. The other countries with significant leverage—notably China, the U.K., and France—must deploy high-level diplomatic teams to press hard on both on Darfur and the CPA. To coordinate efforts and amplify leverage, China, the U.K., France, and the United States should form a “Quartet” in support of peace in Sudan.

Implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement: As implementation falters, there must be penalties for non-compliance with the CPA timetable. The U.N. Security Council endorsed the CPA and key Security Council members helped negotiate it. The Security Council should consider targeted sanctions against those NCP officials who are most responsible for obstructing the agreement’s implementation. If the Council cannot reach a consensus on punitive measures (which will likely be rejected by China and Russia), the United States and the European Union should consider appropriate, coordinated responses and encourage the AU and Arab League to join in demanding implementation of this critical peace deal.

In the meantime, the international community must end its endless hand-wringing and take the necessary steps to protect civilians and hold the government of Sudan responsible for its destabilizing and criminal behavior.

Deploy peacekeepers to protect civilians: The United States, the U.K., France, and China, as leading members of the U.N. Security Council, and in coordination with the United Nations, the AU, and the broader international community, should work together to ensure that the UNAMID peacekeeping mission in Darfur and the EUFOR and MINURCAT (U.N. Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad) peacekeeping missions in Chad/CAR (Central African Republic) are immediately and fully deployed. (See ENOUGH reports How to Get the UN/AU Hybrid Force Deployed to Darfur and A Race Against Time in Eastern Chad.

Impose targeted sanctions: The United States, France, and the U.K. should work with China and Russia to introduce immediately a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing targeted sanctions on senior Sudanese officials responsible for supporting the overthrow of a neighboring sovereign government, for obstructing the deployment of international protection forces in Chad and Darfur, and for continuing to promote violence in Darfur.

ENOUGH is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. With an initial focus on the crises in Sudan, Chad, eastern Congo, and northern Uganda, ENOUGH’s strategy papers and briefings provide sharp field analysis and targeted policy recommendations based on a “3P” crisis response strategy: promoting durable peace, providing civilian protection, and punishing perpetrators of atrocities. ENOUGH works with concerned citizens, advocates, and policy makers to prevent, mitigate, and resolve these crises. To learn more about ENOUGH and what you can do to help, go to


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