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ICC NOTE: Analysts say there is a risk the north-south deal could be in jeopardy unless the international community includes the region in its overall review of Sudan .

Darfur took world focus from Sudan north-south deal

Sudan Tribune

11 December 2006

The Darfur crisis has diverted the attention of world powers away from backing last year’s peace deal between northern and southern Sudan which faces serious delays, a group evaluating the agreement said on Sunday.

The peace deal between the government of the ruling National Congress Party and the southern Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) ended a 21-year civil war — Africa’s longest — that killed about 2 million people.

“After the signing, the international community shifted its focus onto Darfur and more or less kept focusing on Darfur ,” said Ambassador Tom Vraalsen, head of the commission in charge of evaluating the implementation of the peace deal.

“It did not engage … as much as I wished (it) to do in supporting the CPA (Comprehensive Peace Agreement) politically and financially,” he told a news conference in Khartoum .

Tension has escalated between the former northern and southern foes after violent clashes between the SPLM and the northern Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) in Malakal late in November in which 150 people were killed, the United Nations said.

The two sides are also at odds over other issues such as demarcation and the ownership of oil fields.

Some analysts say there is a risk the hard-won north-south deal could be in jeopardy unless the international community includes the region in its overall review of Sudan .

Darfur in the west of the country, where 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million displaced since 2003, has been the subject of intense diplomatic efforts while the south has receded from the spotlight.


Vraalsen’s commission was established as part of the January 2005 agreement and includes members of the former northern and southern foes as well as the countries that sponsored the labouring peace talks in Kenya .

Big aid pledges at a subsequent aid conference in Oslo came from the European Commission which promised about $765 million, Britain $545 million, Norway $250 million and the Netherlands $220 million.

The World Bank said in March that more than $1.1 billion of aid money was spent on urgent humanitarian needs mostly in the south. Aid needed in southern Sudan alone stands at $2.5 billion, the World Bank says.

“This does not leave much for development,” Vraalsen, a Norwegian diplomat, said.

He said despite some progress in carrying out the agreement, several important parts were “seriously behind schedule”.

One was the delay in integrating proxy militias in the Sudanese armed forces, a process that should have taken place within a year after signing, he said.

One militia allied with the northern ruling National Congress Party, the South Sudan Defence Force (SSDF), was blamed for instigating deadly clashes with the SPLM in the southern town of Malakal late in November.

“We cannot accept this most serious violation of (the) CPA to continue,” Vraalsen said. “There is no room for the SSDF or any other armed group in south Sudan .”