Sudan is commemorating the second anniversary of the signing of a peace deal that put an end to 21 years of fighting between the north and south. But at a ceremony in the southern Sudanese capital of Juba on January 9th, still-lingering tensions between the north and the south rose to the surface, exposing cracks in the agreement. Cathy Mantenyi was in Juba and has this report.
Inside Juba's main football stadium, Sudanese from different ethnic groups and religions break out into spontaneous singing, dancing, and drumming to celebrate the second anniversary of what they dare to hope will be permanent peace in their country.
Africa's longest-running civil war broke out in 1983. A southern rebel group called the Sudan People's Liberation Army rose up to fight what it said was political, economic, social, cultural and racial repression of the south by the northern government. Southern Sudanese are mainly followers of Christianity and traditional African religions, while northerners are predominantly Muslim and Arab.
The fighting centered on oil-rich areas in the south where local populations had been forcibly removed to get to the oil. All told, the war left two million people dead and displaced millions more.
After years of negotiations in which Kenya played a leading role, Sudanese Vice President Ali Osman Taha and the then-leader of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, the late John Garang, signed a Comprehensive Peace Agreement on January 9, 2005 in Nairobi, Kenya.
The agreement gives the south semi-autonomy. It spells out how the north and south are to share wealth and power, manage their armies, and maintain a balance between state and religion.
While many Sudanese are still optimistic about the prospect of peace, cracks are beginning to show in the peace accord's implementation.
Sudan's vice president and president of semiautonomous southern sudan, Salva Kiir, expressed these concerns during a speech in Juba commemorating the signing of the accord. "And, as a leader I shall not dishonor it by keeping silent on any violation of the agreements," he said.
He spent much of his address pointing out ways in which he says the northern government is not implementing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, or CPA.
Kiir accused the northern Sudanese Armed Forces of supporting armed groups in Southern Sudan that have carried out a series of violent attacks recently. He says, contrary to the agreement, the Sudanese government has not disbanded its militias operating in the south.
Kiir also says the south is not getting its share of oil revenues because the north has annexed oil-producing areas that should belong to the south.
For his part, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir dismisses many of Kiir's accusations. The Sudanese president said his government waited for six months and paid the southern administration $60 million to bring officials to the north to set up the agreed-upon commissions, but no one showed up.
This public airing of differences underscores that much remains to be done to implement the peace agreement. Meanwhile, Sudanese, especially those in the south, continue to watch and wait for a future of peace.