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Prospects for peace in Sudan: the road ahead

On 11-12 April, Norway will host the first international donor conference for Sudan. As a major political player and donor, the EU has also been invited. In a Peace symposium on Sudan in Bergen last week, Minister of International Development Hilde F. Johnson outlined how the Sudan peace agreement can be translated into action.

15/02/2006 :: The crisis in Sudan is a national crisis, rooted in a classic centre-periphery conflict over the distribution of power and wealth in a poor and underdeveloped country, Ms. Johnson said. A workable solution requires a new form of nation building based on the sharing of power and wealth between the centre and the regions. On top of this, a lasting solution must take into account a large number of cultural, ethnic, religious and historical issues. It needs to be applied to other regions in the country as well and the sustainability of the peace agreement will depend on this.

The promise inherent in the peace agreement will only be fulfilled if the Sudanese people experience a speedy implementation of what has been agreed, and concrete support of the international community. This means immediate action to alleviate the current humanitarian crisis, she underlined.

The success of the implementation will furthermore depend on the parties. It will require political will and determination. The Minister pointed out three immediate challenges for the Sudanese leadership are (1) making the Comprehensive Peace Agreement truly national by widening the political ownership of the agreement; (2) implementing the peace agreement; and (3) taking responsibility for building peace in all parts of the country.

When it comes to Darfur, Ms. Johnson said that it is imperative that the perpetrators are brought to justice and that the agreed protocols are implemented without delay. The international community wants to see delivery in some of these areas before the donors’ conference in Oslo. The Khartoum government and the SLA/SLM and the JEM in Darfur have the responsibility. Dr John Garang of the SPLM could also play a role.

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The Minister’s involvement with the peace process started in 1998, when she became chair of the Sudan Committee of the IGAD Partners’ Forum. Together with the USA, UK, Italy, the UN and the African Union, Norway participated in the “rejuvenated IGAD talks”, which began in May 2002. Norway has also supported the IGAD secretariat in Kenya since its establishment in 2001. A troika of the USA, the UK and Norway followed the negotiations closely and were represented at the talks. This made for a process that was fully owned by the Sudanese leaders, but conducted with both the pressure and the security of a supportive international community.


 

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On Sunday 9 January, Ms. Johnson signed the Sudan peace agreement as a witness

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