SUDAN WATCH: 2009 could be a make or break year for the CPA and for the prospect of peace in Sudan says UN envoy Qazi

Sunday, February 08, 2009

2009 could be a make or break year for the CPA and for the prospect of peace in Sudan says UN envoy Qazi

Xinhua News Service reports from the African continent

'IT IS CLEAR THAT A POSSIBLE I.C.C. INDICTMENT WILL HAVE FAR-REACHING IMPLICATIONS NOT ONLY ON SOUTH SUDAN, OR DARFUR, BUT THE ENTIRE COUNTRY' - SUDANESE AMBASSADOR

Sudan’s major peace accord reaches 'critical juncture': UN representative

UNITED NATIONS, (Xinhua) -- The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which ended a long and bitter war in Sudan in 2005, has reached a “critical juncture” marked by daunting challenges including political uncertainty and lack of mutual trust, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-general for Sudan Ashraf Jehangir Qazi said on Thursday.

“The CPA has reached a critical juncture with little over two years of the interim period remaining,” Qazi told the Security Council in an open meeting.

“The environment for these final two years is likely to be difficult and complex.”

The CPA, signed in January 2005 between the government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, ended a long-running north-south civil war in Sudan.

The UN envoy said that the current situation in Sudan was marked by “deepening political uncertainty and insufficient mutual trust among the parties to the CPA,” and that the implementation of outstanding CPA issues will test the parties.

Despite the commitment of relevant parties, the ongoing conflict in Darfur and the awaited decision by the International Criminal Court (ICC) have “exacerbated” the situation and left the peace agreement in a “vulnerable” position, he noted.

Last July, ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo filed 10 charges against al-Bashir, including three counts of genocide, five of crimes against humanity and two of murder, and called for an arrest warrant.

The world court is reviewing the case before deciding on whether to issue such a warrant, which will clear the way for the first indictment of a sitting head of state.

A decision could come as early as this month.

“Should, as a result, the CPA unravel, conflicts and instability in Sudan are likely to escalate dramatically,” the envoy warned.

“The humanitarian implications of a relapse into conflict and chaos throughout Sudan are, to put it mildly, sobering.

“Without any exaggeration, 2009 could be a make or break year for the CPA and for the prospect of peace in Sudan,” he said.
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U.N. Security Council divided over possible International Criminal Court move on Sudan

UNITED NATIONS, (Xinhua) -- UN officials and diplomats on Thursday raised alarms about the “daunting” challenges in implementing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended a long and bitter war in Sudan in 2005, while the Security Council was split over the prospect of an indictment of the Sudanese leader by the world court.

The Security Council first held a public meeting on Thursday morning to hear a briefing by UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sudan Ashraf Jehangir Qazi on the latest developments in the war-torn country, before heading into informal consultations.

PEACE ACCORD FACES CHALLENGES

Despite progress in the last four years, the CPA has reached “a critical juncture where any action or inaction on its provisions will have a profound impact on the future of the Sudan,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his latest report to the Security Council.

Since its independence in 1956, the Sudanese people have suffered two civil wars between the north and the south, a civil war in the east and an ongoing and possibly intensifying conflict in the west.

The CPA was signed in January, 2005 between the government of the Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, putting an end to the long-running north-south civil war.

The overall security situation remains fragile and unpredictable as a 2011 referendum looms on whether the South should secede or remain united with the rest of the country, according to the report.

“The parties to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement are yet to present a convincing case for unity to the people of Southern Sudan.

“I call upon the parties to use the remaining two years to explore all options available to make unity attractive,” Ban said.

The secretary-general stressed that key benchmarks, such as census results, border demarcation, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, and referendum preparations now need to be achieved “within a tight time frame with very little flexibility for further delays.”

The UN chief’s view was echoed by Qazi, who told the council that the current situation in Sudan was marked by “deepening political uncertainty and insufficient mutual trust among the parties to the CPA,” and that the implementation of outstanding CPA issues will test the parties.

Emerging from the council meeting, British UN ambassador John Sawers told reporters that the CPA plays “a central role” in building peace in the Sudan.

“It is making good progress over the last four years, but there is a great deal more to do,” Sawers said.

In particular, he urged relevant Sudanese parties to take steps to prepare for the referendum in 2011 on the country’s future.

The council president, Japanese UN Ambassador Yukio Takasu, said council members agreed that the CPA is “a crucial part of stability and peace in entire Sudan.”

They also noted that the successful implementation of the CPA will be hinged upon the situation in many parts of the country, including Darfur, he said.

“Therefore, it is extremely important that CPA is going to be implemented with full commitment from all parties concerned.”

CONCERN OVER POSSIBLE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT MOVE

The United Nations has expressed concern about the ramifications of a possible arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court (ICC) against President Omar al-Bashir, including the impact on the CPA and safety and security of peacekeepers on the ground.

An ICC pre-trial chamber is currently reviewing evidence concerning the case and a decision could come as early as this month.

The ICC’s actions have “a major impact on Sudanese political dynamics and have diverted much attention at a time when outstanding issues related to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement require the parties’ cooperation and renewed commitment,” Ban said.

“While I am encouraged by the assurances of continued support by the government, I am also concerned about remarks by some of its officials that the government may redefine its relationship with UNMIS should an arrest warrant be issued against President al- Bashir,” the secretary-general said.

In the briefing to the council, Qazi also expressed similar concern and urged the 15-member body to discuss the “impact of an ICC decision on the CPA and the Darfur situation.

“The purpose of the CPA is the building and keeping of peace and security in Sudan, without which no justice for its people will be possible,” Qazi said.

“Towards that end, it is incumbent upon the Sudanese parties and leadership, as well as the international community, to remain focused on ensuring the full implementation of the CPA.”

The awaited ICC decision has contributed to exacerbating the situation and leaving the peace agreement in a “vulnerable” position, Qazi noted.

UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL IS STILL DIVIDED

Diplomats said that members of the Security Council were divided over whether to take action to reverse a possible ICC indictment.

Takasu said that during close-door consultations, some members, African countries in particular, mentioned about Article 16 of the ICC statute, which gives the Security Council the right to defer an ICC investigation or prosecution for a period of 12 months.

But many others spoke of the importance of pursuing peace and justice at the same time and the “prevailing view was that ‘let’s wait and see,’” Takasu said, adding that it is premature to predict what will be the council’s response to the ICC decision.

Sudan’s ambassador to the UN, Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamad, said the council has “a special responsibility” to put the ICC move on hold.

“It is clear that a possible indictment will have far-reaching implications not only on south Sudan, or Darfur, but the entire country,” he said.

On this issue, Mohamad said, Khartoum has the support of the “ overwhelming majority of the international community,” including the Africa Union, the Arab League and the Organization of The Islamic Conference.

Mohamad urged the council to demonstrate its commitment to the safety and security of UN peacekeepers and the Sudanese people by invoking Article 16 in order to arrest the ICCI move.
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