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No Progress Reported in Ending Rift Between North and South Sudan


It’s been several weeks since ministers from Southern Sudan suspended their involvement in the national unity government. They say Southern Sudan has not benefited so far from the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed in 2005. The agreement ended about 20 years of civil war.

For a look at where the situation stands now, VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua spoke with Simon Roughneen, former aid worker and now a senior analyst for the International Relations and Security Network.

“There’s been no real progress yet. The two meetings that have been held so far between Salva Kiir, the president of South Sudan, also Sudan’s vice-president, and President Bashir have yielded nothing of substance other than to get some ministers reshuffled. But these aren’t the real substantive issues that have been causing the rift between the National Congress Party, which is the main northern party in the government, and the rebel group, the SPLM/SPLA. Issues like border demarcation, transparency over oil revenues, the disputed region of Abeyie have all really stymied any progress. And also looming large over the current fallout is the ongoing violence in Darfur, Sudan’s western region, which isn’t entirely divorced from the current north/south disagreement either,” he says.

Asked how the two are related, Roughneen says, “The links aren’t always clear, but you must remember that back in 2003/2004, when the Darfur rebellion first kicked off, and then the Sudanese government and its janjaweed proxy militias launched their counter-insurgency…the SPLA/SPLM were then involved in negotiations in the lead-up to what became the 2005 peace agreement between the north and south. And the SPLA…it’s unclear at this stage…gave some political and military aid to the SLA, the Sudan Liberation Army, which is the first rebel group in Darfur.”

He says that last week, Darfur rebel groups came out in support of South Sudan’s suspending its participation in the government of national unity. He says that some rebel groups sent representatives to Juba to meet with the SPLA. This happened after several Darfur rebel groups boycotted peace talks held in Sirte, Libya.

Roughneen says the Khartoum government is able to fund its forces in Darfur through oil revenues coming from the south. Those revenues could be in jeopardy if South Sudan votes on whether to secede in a few years, as part of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

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