Now that Sudan's government and the southern Sudan People's Liberation Movement have signed a peace accord ending twenty one years of conflict, a number of challenges lie ahead in creating a new unity government and healing sharp divisions and deep wounds. VOA's Jeffrey Young reports.
While Sudan's north-south factions and the international community are celebrating the January 9 signing of a peace accord, observers say a number of issues must be addressed in order to begi n the healing of Sudan and maintain a viable state.
To implement the accord's political power-sharing provisions, a new constitution must be written so that Sudan People's Liberation Movement leader John Garang can be sworn in as First Vice President of the new "unity" government.
The SPLM is also guaranteed a percentage of the jobs in that government.
However, Human Rights Watch Sudan analyst Jemera Rone doubts the major posts will be fully shared with southerners. "There will be a lot of squabbling about who gets what ministries," he said. "Traditionally, southerners get very minor ministries. I don't expect them to get any of the key
military, energy or foreign policy institutions."
Military power will also be shared under the peace agreement. The government's troops and those of the SPLM known as the Sudan People's Liberation Army are to merge into a unified force. But as Bathsheba Crocker at the Center for Strategic and International Studies points out, there also has to be an effort to bring other rebel forces into the fold.
"It will be very important to see how things like the various militias are handled by the parties and by the international community and the international peacekeeping force," he said. "It's critical to see what kind of mandate the international peacekeeping force has and whether it can really undertake the kinds of actions that will be needed."
United Nations special envoy to Sudan Jan Pronk says he expects a U-N security council resolution to be adopted very soon that could authorize a peacekeeping force of up to 10,000 soldiers.
A focal point of Sudan's economy is oil - with proven reserves of about 635 million barrels. Marina Ottaway, with the Carnegie Endowment for Peace in Washington, explains why north-south cooperation is essential to share control of oil revenue as the accord provides. "The south in this agreement does not get control over the entire oil revenue. It receives a portion of it. The south will never be able to control the oil fields militarily if the northern government opposes it."
Sudan's refugees problem is considerable. Some estimate that about four million people were displaced during the more than two decade north-south conflict. Jemera Rone at Human Rights Watch describes the peace accord's refugee provisions, and the problem such a lengthy conflict has created. "The principle that all have agreed to is no one is supposed to be forced or prevented from returning home," he said. "However, there are so many of these people who have been refugees and displaced for so long that it's not likely that all of them will go back."
Ms. Rone and others say the key to resolving the refugee issue will be the Sudanese government's maintenance of security and adhering to human rights principles. They also say a concerted effort to create employment through economic development beyond oil is essential.
Many who follow developments in Sudan say such a damaged country cannot heal by itself. They implore the international community to continue to provide all possible assistance and to keep a sharp eye on any developments that threaten the hard-won and carefully balanced peace that has finally arrived.