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Sudan: Between Peace and War
Oct 11, 2009 (091011)
(Reposted from sources cited below)
The pace of diplomacy on Sudan is increasing, with talks set to
resume on Darfur and active engagement by the African Union, the
United Nations, and the United States in efforts to move Sudan's
Comprehensive Peace Agreement forward as it approaches the last
year of a projected 6-year interim period. But, says veteran Sudan
analyst John Ashworth, in fact the agreement "is not Comprehensive,
nor Peace, nor an Agreement. Its failure could ignite a new war
even more deadly than the two previous conflicts in Southern Sudan.
Ashworth particularly notes the peril of the plan to hold elections which
are likely to have little credibility before a referendum on self-determination
for Southern Sudan, and the lack of will of the Sudanese government
to implement the agreement, The Sudanese government "has
consistently attempted to undermine the agreement, delaying and
obstructing most of the key requirements." But "unless southerners
can exercise their right of self-determination in a free, fair and
credible manner, there is a high probability of a return to war,"
This AfricaFocus Bulletins contains (1) excerpts from Ashworth's
review of the state of Sudan's Comprehensive Peace Agreement,
published by IKV Pax Christi Netherlands last month, and (2) a
press release from Human Rights Watch on its latest report,
documenting "human rights violations and repression in Khartoum and
northern states, ongoing violence in Darfur, and the fighting that
threatens civilians in Southern Sudan."
This web-only AfricaFocus Bulletin is one of three posted today.
Also only on the web is Sudan: Policy Debates and Dilemmas,
at http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/sud0910c.php; Sudan: African
Union Panel Reports was sent out to subscribers by e-mail and is
also available on the web (http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/sud0910a.php).
For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on Sudan, see
++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++++++++
The State of Sudan's Comprehensive Peace Agreement
This analysis has been prepared by the IKV Pax Christi Horn of
Author: John Ashworth
[Excerpts only. For full text, with footnotes, see
http://www.ikvpaxchristi.nl/UK / http://tinyurl.com/n4xhcf]
Utrecht, 4th September 2009
IKV Pax Christi sees the CPA [Comprehensive Peace Agreement] as the
only available instrument to achieve a transition towards a more
democratic and peaceful Sudan.
By issuing this analysis on the current state of CPA
implementation, it issues alerts about security, wealth sharing
and power sharing that need urgent attention from all actors
involved. The report also outlines what a next war may look like.
Following the analysis we conclude that unless southerners can
exercise their right of self-determination in a free, fair and
credible manner, there is a high probability of a return to war.
The holding of a free and fair referendum in 2011 must therefore be
the over-riding priority for all stakeholders, including Sudanese
governments, political parties and civil society and the
It is in the interest of the citizens of Sudan that the elections
are free, fair and will be conducted in a peaceful environment,
which can only be realized if the international community gives it
However, if the elections are to be held before 2011, they are
likely to be neither free nor fair, but rather too chaotic to
result in a credible expression of the will of the Sudanese people.
As a result, they may well impede the CPA's centre-piece, the
referendum, and draw the country into chaos and violence. Thus
there is need for a serious discussion on the timing of the
A new civil war between north and south would be a disaster for the
people of Sudan and one that would destabilise an already volatile
region. All of us must therefore do our utmost to prevent it from
happening. Making the realisation of the referendum in 2011 the
over-riding policy objective is one way of doing this.
Jan Gruiters Director IKV Pax Christi
The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in Context
The Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed in January 2005 brought
an end to 22 years of civil war in southern Sudan and the
marginalised areas of southern Blue Nile, the Nuba Mountains and
However, in fact it is not Comprehensive, nor Peace, nor an
It is not Comprehensive for two reasons: it only dealt with one of
the conflicts in Sudan, and it is only between two warring
parties, excluding all other political parties and military
factions, north and south, as well as civil society.
It is not Peace. It is effectively a cease-fire agreement and a
framework or road map for peace, which is scheduled for 2011. Of
course it was a great achievement to move the conflict from the
military to the political sphere, but this should not be confused
It is not an Agreement. It was signed reluctantly by the NCP
[National Congress Party], under intense diplomatic pressure. The
final agreement is virtually identical to a draft presented by the
mediator, Lt Gen Lazarus Sumbeiywo, about a year earlier which the
NCP had rejected outright with undiplomatic language, suggesting it
should be flushed down the toilet. NCP appeared to give away more
than they could afford, and the implication is that they never
intended to implement it. Northern Sudanese governments have
arguably not honoured any agreement signed with the south since
1947, so southerners are understandably sceptical about the worth
of this one. "Too many agreements dishonoured", to quote elder
statesman Abel Alier, and from the outset this showed all the signs
of being another one.
The international community accepted the CPA at face value and
turned their attention to Darfur. This was a mistake. ...
In light of the above, the main, if unspoken, priority of GOSS
[Government of Southern Sudan] is preparing for the next war. ...
This overrides many other priorities, such as development,
anti-corruption, accountability, good governance, peace-building,
reconciliation, justice, etc. It explains why SPLM [Sudan People's
Liberation Movement] has been slow to make the transition from
authoritarian liberation movement to democratic political party;
the conflict has not finished yet and they feel the need to present
a strong front to the NCP while the political phase of conflict
continues, and do not want to disintegrate just before the military
phase breaks out again. It also explains why certain individuals
and groups are favoured; they may not be very good at government,
they may even misbehave, but they are proven solid supporters of
the movement during war time, or they represent constituencies
which must be kept on board. Although there is a hard core of
experienced and committed SPLA cadres, in general the SPLA is not
a united army, but rather a collection of former militias and
ethnic groups, and a constant balancing act is needed to keep them
However since most of the specific components of the CPA are, on
paper, good for the south, SPLM has generally attempted to
implement the agreement in good faith. [in contrast] NCP has
consistently attempted to undermine the agreement, delaying and
obstructing most of the key requirements.
Despite massive efforts by civil society and aid agencies, with
the encouragement of GOSS, many people in the south have still
never seen a copy of the CPA, nor associated documents such as the
Interim National Constitution, Interim Constitution for Southern
Sudan and the National Elections Act 2008. In the north, too, it
is "hard to find a hard-copy". Anecdotal evidence from workshops
suggests that those who have not read these documents include
government officials, politicians, intellectuals, opinion leaders
and civil society figures. The documents have not been translated
into local languages and remain inaccessible to ordinary people.
Copies printed in English and Arabic are not being circulated
widely enough. The information that people do receive,
second-hand, is often inaccurate and incomplete.
Violence in the South
In the last few months there has been a significant increase in
violence within the south, mostly between different ethnic
groups. It has increased in both quantity and quality -
cattle-raiding in the past has usually not resulted in huge
casualties amongst women, children and the elderly.
"In the Church's opinion, this is the biggest problem in Sudan
today... The only conclusion one can draw is that these are
ancient disputes that are being deliberately stirred up into
something much more damaging for the local people and the
stability of our country as a whole. Who is doing this is still
largely unknown, but it is evident from local reports received
through the Church network that the arms smuggling, re-armament
and incitement of tribal violence is being carried out by enemies
of the CPA."
There are consistent reports that this is being instigated by
elements within the NCP. Senior figures in the SPLM have blamed
the north for supplying arms, and there are plenty of grassroots
reports of military aircraft being used, and military uniforms and
brand new weapons being seen. ...
The NCP "has been arming militia groups to cause instability in
south Sudan...(and) has also been arming civilians", according to
SPLM Secretary General Pagan Amum. ...
Southern politicians and former militia leaders are perceived as
being involved, using local ethnic tensions for their own ends.
When asked who is behind the trouble, local people often answer,
"The politicians. The intellectuals. People from the town". There
is a strong belief that they are being supported by Khartoum. ...
However not all the culprits can be traced to Khartoum, and some
may have links to SPLM. Some violent crime in Juba and banditry in
other parts of the south can also be linked to individual SPLA
members. It's also clear that in some areas SPLA forces operate
independently and are not completely under control, eg recent
problems involving SPLA troops along the Kenyan and Ugandan
If the violence is being orchestrated, it serves several purposes:
- To discredit and undermine the CPA.
- To retard development in the south.
- To give the impression that the south cannot govern itself, and
that secession will lead to widespread ethnic violence. ...
- To give an excuse for the north to maintain troops in certain
parts of the south, eg the oil fields, to "maintain security".
Joint Integrated Units (JIU)
During the IGAD [Inter-Governmental Authority on Development]
negotiations, the NCP demanded that there should be only one
national army, SAF [Sudan Armed Forces], and that SPLA would be
assimilated into it. SPLA, believing along with most southerners
that ultimately military power is the only guarantee that the CPA
will be implemented, insisted on two armies, SAF in the north and
SPLA in the south. The compromise was three armies: SAF in the
north, SPLA in the south, and the Joint Integrated Units,
comprising 50% SAF and 50% SPLA, in key locations in the south and
north (eg Khartoum).
In practice it has not worked. Not only are JIUs not acting under
common command, but in many locations they are not able to stay
together in the same barracks, and are placed several kilometres
apart. There have been cases of violence between the SAF and SPLA
within JIU, including Abyei and Malakal.
The UN Mission in Sudan (UNMISS)
The UN peace-keeping mission in southern Sudan has generally been
disappointing. One recurring complaint is their failure to patrol.
Linked to this is their lack of knowledge of the context and their
inability properly to analyse the situation. In situations where
fighting has taken place they have either been absent or unable
to intervene effectively. While they have had some successes,
there are serious doubts about the cost-effectiveness of this
hugely expensive operation.
Oil and Borders
Oil creates a number of immediate problems in the south, but a key
problem connected to the CPA is where the oil will be after 2011
in case of secession. Most of the oil is in the south, but a
great deal of it is along the border. Already Abyei has lost oil
fields following the ruling in the Hague, and since Abyei is
expected to vote to join the south in anything like a free and
fair referendum, that oil is potentially lost to the south.
However since the north-south border itself has not been
demarcated, GOSS still hopes that some of that oil will find its
way back into the south. In successive maps published in Khartoum
since 1956, the border has been seen to move southwards. It will
be a challenge for the Border Commission to reverse that trend.
The potential loss of oil revenue is a major problem for northern
Sudan. While they do not depend as heavily on oil revenue as the
south (over 50% of the annual budget26 as opposed to over 90% in
the south), nevertheless it has been a key factor in both
economic and military development. Future oil revenue plays a
significant role in attracting foreign investment. Loss of this
revenue may lead to serious destabilisation in the north. There
are fears that Khartoum may wish to annexe parts of the oil fields
in the south, either permanently or "temporarily".
Thus, if the south secedes in 2011, a new oil compromise between
north and south will be needed. An agreement to continue sharing
revenue with the north would probably be politically unacceptable
to southerners. However, while the south has the oil, the north
has the pipeline and refining facilities. ... Hence a commercial
rather than a political deal whereby the south sells its oil to
the north, or "hires" pipeline and refining services from the
north at a cost that is agreeable to both but may be higher than
a "normal" market price, would benefit both sides.
Government of Southern Sudan budget crisis
There are differing views on how much of the current financial
crisis is caused by GOSS mismanagement and corruption, and how
much by the global economic downturn and drop in oil prices. Over
90% of the GOSS budget comes from oil, so that has definitely had
a significant effect.
But whatever the cause, it is now a serious problem. It will
hinder development in the south, slow down the policy of
devolution and decentralisation of government, reduce confidence
in GOSS, and potentially lead to further conflict and violence.
It should also be added that donor money has been slow to arrive,
and appears to have fallen short of the USD 4.5 billion promised
in Oslo in April 2005. In May 2008, GOSS said it had received
only USD 550 million, "while funds earmarked for development have
been diverted to aid for Darfur". ...
Power and Democratisation
The basic problem in Sudan, whether in Darfur, the south or the
east, is at the centre - the domination of Sudanese political
systems by a small riverain elite, currently embodied in the NCP
regime, which seeks to control and marginalise the peripheries
whilst also insisting on a particular cultural and religious
identity for the whole of Sudan. Ethnic politics play a role in
Sudan, as they did in Kenyan elections. Sudan is still to a large
extent a client-patron state, and this too will play a role, with
electors being encouraged to vote for the "big man" who they
believe can bring benefits to their particular community.
These factors must be taken into account when urging good
governance, democracy, elections, etc. They are not a passing
phase which can be fixed with a bit of capacity-building or
training; they are deep-seated cultural attitudes.
Government of National Unity (GONU)
28% of positions in the Government of National Unity have gone to
SPLM, as per the CPA. However the SPLM cabinet ministers are
isolated and marginalised and are little more than figureheads.
Real power sits with the NCP counterpart in each ministry. It is
widely believed that national security actively controls all
significant ministries. ... As one minister said, "They give me a
nice office, a big car, police escorts, but I have no power. My
civil servants do not brief me nor show me documents, and they
don't carry out my instructions".
While SPLM has not articulated a public policy on GONU, it appears
that they have given up on it. SPLM ministers in GONU continue to
play the game, but the real energy of SPLM is channelled into
trying to set up a viable government in Juba in preparation for
The results of the census are almost certainly not accurate, and
southerners have rejected them completely as a basis for power-and
wealth-sharing and for elections and the referendum. It is
generally accepted that the results have been rigged in favour of
In hindsight, it was a mistake to have elections during the
Interim Period. This is a cease-fire period leading to the final
peace deal after the referendum, and it would make more sense to
leave the two signatories to complete the transition. Elections
would then be held after the referendum, whether in two countries
or one. If the Interim Period had been only two years as SPLM
wanted, this would have been obvious, but the extension to six
years clouded the issue.
Nobody in the north or south believes the elections will be free
and fair. The NCP held two sham elections during the war, and is
experienced at rigging them. The conflict in Darfur will make
elections there extremely difficult. Discussions among opposition
parties in the north over an active boycott of the elections
question whether anything resembling free and fair elections can
take place in a climate of lack of freedom and the restrictive
laws which are still in place.
Within the south there is a strong perception that the elections
have already been rigged as a result of the census, which will be
used to prepare the election and particularly constituency
boundaries. Given the census claim that only 20% of the population
is in the south (instead of the more widely accepted 33%), there
is a strong possibility that even in a "free and fair" vote,
northern parties would win a large enough majority to be able to
change the constitution and potentially derail the CPA. ...
While SPLM would clearly favour a cancellation of elections, the
picture within NCP is more mixed. Some might be happy to cancel
them; others see it as a chance to legitimise the NCP regime and
end the stigma of having seized power by force in the 1989 coup
d'‚tat. Opposition parties would in principle like the elections
to take place in 2010 but may boycott them due to the fear that
they will not be free and fair. ...
Neither side can be the first to call for postponing the
elections. The main danger from postponement or cancellation is
setting a precedent for cancelling other parts of the CPA,
particularly the referendum. "Soon you would be saying: "This
referendum, we don't need it. There are people trying to see to it
that it [referendum] doesn't happen. We are not going to give them
For most southerners (including southern opposition parties, many
of which are more overtly pro-secession than SPLM), the
referendum is the ultimate goal of the CPA. They are willing to
compromise on many issues, and to overlook breaches in the
implementation of the CPA, as long as they get to exercise their
right of self- determination in 2011. ...
Tampering with that is extremely dangerous, and it is worrying to
hear that United States officials have hinted to southern
President Salva Kiir that the referendum should be delayed.
However US Special Envoy Scott Gration subsequently reportedly
stated that the USA would work to ensure that the referendum
takes place in January 2011. The international community must not
play into the hands of the NCP, and must insist that this part of
the CPA be sacrosanct, whatever else is sacrificed.
GOSS' Minister for International Cooperation, Lieutenant General
Obai, expressed to the AU "its deep concern at the danger coming
to Sudan as a result of the NCP's dangerous attempt to sabotage
and betray the right of the people of south Sudan to selfdetermination....
GOSS and south Sudan's people will not entertain any delay of the referendum... which is a clear violation of the
If there is a vote for secession which passes whatever percentage
has been agreed, there are still scenarios which could lead to
further conflict. One is that the north might attempt to annexe
parts of Unity and Upper Nile States ... Or they may publicly
acknowledge secession of the whole south, but argue that they need
to maintain "temporary" control of those states to ensure
security for the oil fields. Or they may simply refuse outright to
grant independence, seeking support from AU states which fear a
domino effect within Africa and an international community which
tends to support the status quo. The international community must
resist all these scenarios.
Even if secession does take place peacefully, southerners need to
articulate what sort of society they want in their
newly-independent state, and to find a way of resolving ethnic
tensions. They also need a pragmatic working relationship with
their new neighbour in the north - the oil may be in the south,
but the pipeline is in the north.
Unilateral Declaration of Independence
If for any reason the referendum does not result in secession for
the south, or if it is delayed, there is a strong possibility that
the south will unilaterally declare independence.
It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that a result adverse
to the NCP in either the elections of referendum could trigger a
coup d'état. The new regime could abrogate the CPA and cancel the
results of the elections and referendum, all in the interests of
peace, security and stability. The option of secession is
extremely unpopular throughout the north (both for reasons of
national pride and oil) and such a coup might, initially at least,
gain some popular support.
On paper, Abyei gained from the CPA, as they have a referendum.
Conflict now is around borders (theoretically solved by the Hague
arbitration) and who will be allowed to vote in the referendum.
While the immediate level of tension around Abyei has decreased,
it could escalate again at any time.
The Nuba Mountains (Southern Kordofan) and Southern Blue Nile,
both of which joined the SPLA in the civil war, gained virtually
nothing from the CPA. Both are defined as being part of the north,
which many of their people would reject. Both have been granted
limited autonomy under the Presidency, but few believe that this
is meaningful. They have no referendum, simply an undefined
"popular consultation" about their governance, but without the
option of joining the south. ,,,
If the south does achieve independence, it will leave these two
states in a very difficult position indeed, and it could easily
trigger fresh violence. ...
The Next War
By 2005, southerners were exhausted by war and welcomed the peace.
But even as the CPA was being signed, the mantra throughout the
south was, "War is better than a bad peace".
What constitutes a "bad peace"? The most likely cause is if
southerners feel they have been cheated at the time of the
referendum - it doesn't take place, or it is perceived as being
rigged, or perhaps there is a simple majority for secession but
the NCP insists on a higher percentage, or there is a vote for
secession but secession is not granted, or if the north
permanently or "temporarily" annexes parts of the south. However
the war could break out at any time and in any place before then
for a number of reasons: tensions in Abyei, resumed fighting
between JIU factions in Malakal, the elections, ethnic conflict,
disillusion in Southern Kordofan or Blue Nile, etc. One southerner
said, "Petrol has been poured all over the south; it's now just
waiting for a match."
Both parties are clearly preparing for the possibility of war. ...
The third southern civil war in Sudan will be more terrible than
the first two, and will have some very different characteristics.
- Both the previous wars began with the northern government
controlling the south. The liberation movements began in the bush
and had to fight to control territory gradually. The third war
will begin with the SPLA in control of virtually the whole south,
except perhaps parts of the oil fields which are still occupied
by northern security forces.
- Organised fighting (as opposed to insurgency - see below) will
begin on the north-south border. Depending on the scenario,
either northern forces will invade, and may quickly capture some
of the towns close to the border, or SPLA will attempt to
reoccupy southern territory being held by the north.
- SPLA will maintain its hold on most of the south, giving it
secure rear bases and an undisputed border with friendly
neighbours. It will be able to reinforce its forward bases rapidly
and maintain its military logistics flow.
- A limited war to annex the oil fields of Greater Upper Nile and
the rich agricultural lands of Renk, Kordofan and Blue Nile may
be all that Khartoum wants, but southerners will not rest easy
while any of the south remains in northern hands. And next time
round they might go the extra mile to secure a referendum for
their comrades-in-arms in the contested areas too.
- This time it will be the north which uses insurgents in the bush
in the south. These will be made up of ethnic groups and militia
such as those who supported the north in the last war, and LRA.
- Southerners have vowed that they will take the third war to the
north. Both previous wars were fought in the south, apart from
Abyei, the Nuba Mountains and southern Blue Nile. When Kurmuk, a
town which the northerners perceive as northern, was taken in
1987 and again in 1997, there was consternation throughout the
- There are 1,500 SPLA troops in Khartoum in the JIU. If war
breaks out, they are unlikely to sit back and surrender their
arms. They may be joined by Darfuri SLA forces, and there could
be a spontaneous uprising by southerners and westerners in the
displaced camps and shanty towns around the three cities. Whatever
the outcome, it will be very bloody before it is put down. As the
rioting following the death of Dr John Garang demonstrated, it
could quickly turn into mass ethnic killing. Blood will run in
the streets of the capital.
- Both sides are preparing for war. In the two previous civil
wars, the south was unprepared, and its liberation armies began
from very small ad hoc forces. This time the south will begin
with a large standing army and with arms and materiel which it
could never have dreamed of before. The north will probably have
more sophisticated weaponry and will have more of everything, but
it lacks committed troops. Much of Khartoum's front line army
consisted of southerners and westerners; it is by no means
certain that they will do their master's bidding a third time.
- In an increasingly globalised world, and with significant
tensions and conflict already existing in Somalia, Ethiopia,
Eritrea, DRC, Chad and Darfur, the next war is going to have an
impact on the region greater than the two previous wars did.
The holding of a free and fair referendum in 2011 must be the
over-riding priority for all stakeholders, including Sudanese
governments, parties and civil society and the international
community. If southerners are not allowed to exercise their right
of self-determination in a free, fair and credible manner, then
there is a high probability of a return to war.
It is in the interest of the citizens of Sudan (if not all their
leaders!) that the elections be free, fair and peaceful, and the
international community is preparing to give significant support.
However elections held before 2011 will not only be chaotic in
themselves but may well impede the all-important referendum. Thus
there is need for a serious discussion on the timing of the
elections. ... This discussion is urgent. It must be broad-based
and open process, and must of course be driven by the Sudanese.
Envoys, UN, AU Should Press Ruling Party for Nationwide Reforms
October 6, 2009
Human Rights Watch
(New York) - The Sudanese government should end attacks by its
armed forces on civilians in Darfur and make the major human rights
reforms envisioned in the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA),
Human Rights Watch said in a report issued today. Special Envoys to
Sudan, concerned governments, and United Nations and African Union
officials meeting in Moscow today should press Sudan's government
to make these legal and policy changes a matter of urgent priority,
Human Rights Watch said.
The 25-page report, "The Way Forward: Ending Human Rights Abuses
and Repression across Sudan" documents human rights violations and
repression in Khartoum and northern states, ongoing violence in
Darfur, and the fighting that threatens civilians in Southern
Sudan. It is based on field research in eastern Chad and Southern
Sudan in July and August.
"Sudan is at a crossroads," said Georgette Gagnon, Africa director
at Human Rights Watch. "It can either make good on its promises or
allow the situation to deteriorate further with its repressive
Today's meeting of concerned governments and intergovernmental
bodies in Moscow including the UN, AU and League of Arab States
comes at a critical time in Sudan. The National Congress Party
(NCP)-led Government of National Unity (GNU) is facing an
interlocking mosaic of human rights and political challenges in the
Darfur peace talks, which have faltered in recent months, are set
to resume this month in Doha. Under the terms of the 2005 CPA,
national elections are scheduled for April 2010 and a southern
referendum on independence for January 2011. Sudan's failure in any
of these processes can undermine its overall progress.
"Those who care about the Sudanese people should put human rights
first, through strong, comprehensive and coordinated pressure on
the governing party to change its ways in the South, on Darfur and
in Khartoum," said Gagnon.
The government should immediately end attacks on civilians in
Darfur, charge or release people it has arrested arbitrarily, and
end harassment of civil society activists, said Human Rights Watch.
It should prioritize provisions of the CPA that have clear human
rights and security implications, Human Rights Watch said. These
include genuine reform of its national security apparatus,
North-South border demarcation, and security agreements to withdraw
and downsize troops and integrate former militias.
Sudanese national security officials, acting under the sweeping
powers of the National Security Forces Act (NSFA), have been
arresting and detaining civil society activists, opposition
leaders, and suspected rebels in Khartoum, Port Sudan, Kassala,
Darfur and elsewhere, often for prolonged periods and without
access to family or lawyers, Human Rights Watch research indicated.
For example, at least seven Darfuri students who are members of the
United Popular Front (UPF) have been in detention since April 2009.
Their group held events at several Sudanese universities supporting
the International Criminal Court (ICC), which on March 4 issued an
indictment against Sudan's president, Omar al-Bashir.
On October 1, security officers arrested two more members of the
student group in Gazeera state following a university debate on
Darfur. Government security forces have also harassed and arrested
activists from Kassala in eastern Sudan and political opposition
party members in Khartoum and Southern Kordofan.
On August 28, security officers arrested another Darfuri activist,
Abdelmajeed Saleh Abaker Haroun, in downtown Khartoum and they
continue to detain him without charge.
"The Sudanese government should end its practice of arbitrary
arrests, release or charge people it has detained without legal
basis, and it should genuinely reform national security laws," said
Harassment of Civil Society and Suppression of Information
The full extent of human rights violations in the northern states
and in Darfur is unknown because of government censorship of the
media. Its closure of three Sudanese human rights organizations
following the ICC indictment further restricted the flow of
information about human rights across Sudan. The expulsion of 13
international humanitarian organizations from Darfur around the
same time has also restricted the flow of information about
The policy of pre-print censorship, which Human Rights Watch has
documented, continued with security officers operating under the
Security Forces Act censoring and suspending newspapers and
blocking civil society activities, particularly on elections, while
preparations are beginning for the April 2010 elections.
Human Rights Watch has found that on at least six occasions in the
last four months, security and humanitarian authorities interrupted
or prevented civil society groups and political parties from
holding talks about elections in Khartoum, Port Sudan, Medani and
elsewhere in northern states and Darfur. In one case, security
officials detained and questioned members of the Communist party
for distributing leaflets in Khartoum.
"By repressing civil society groups and political parties, the
Sudanese government is restricting fundamental political freedoms
at the time they are most important," Gagnon said.
Between January and June, security officials prevented publication
of newspapers on at least 10 occasions through heavy censorship,
harassed or arrested journalists and the author of a book on
Darfur, and shut down an organization that was training and
supporting journalists. In September, government censorship caused
suspension of at least two major papers.
President Bashir announced on September 29 that his government
would stop pre-print censorship, but also warned journalists not to
exceed established "red lines." It remains to be seen whether this
statement will translate into greater freedom of expression on
critical matters of public interest.
Ongoing Clashes in Darfur
In Darfur, recent clashes between the governing party-led Sudan
Armed Forces and rebels in September and the use of indiscriminate
bombings demonstrate that the war is not over. Government air and
ground attacks on villages around Korma North Darfur on September
17 and 18 reportedly killed 16 civilians, including women, and
burned several villages.
Witnesses from the North Darfur town of Um Baru told Human Rights
Watch that government bombing in May hit water pumps and killed and
injured scores of civilians.
"They were dropping 12 bombs a day," one witness told Human Rights
Watch. "They dropped in all the areas around the town."
Clashes between government and JEM rebels at Muhajariya, South
Darfur, in February included an intensive government bombing
campaign that killed scores of civilians and displaced 40,000. An
estimated 2.7 million people in displaced persons camps in Darfur
and 200,000 in Chad are unable to return to their villages for fear
of the attacks and violence, including sexual violence, by
government soldiers and government-allied militia.
Insecurity in Southern Sudan
In Abyei and other flashpoints along the North-South border, the
GNU's failure to implement the peace agreement provisions on border
demarcation and troop withdrawal and downsizing threatens to expose
civilians to further abuse and danger. Both armies have failed to
downsize and to integrate former militias fully, as required by the
security arrangements in the peace agreement.
During the February clashes in Malakal between the northern
government forces and the southern Sudan People's Liberation Army
soldiers, former militias whom the armed forces failed to integrate
instigated violence and human rights violations. The presidency has
still not taken sufficient action to remove NCP-backed former
militias from the area and reduce the threat of further violence.
Elsewhere in Southern Sudan, intense inter-ethnic fighting killed
at least 1,200 civilians in the first half of 2009. The Sudan
People's Liberation Movement-led Government of Southern Sudan has
so far been unable to protect civilians from the
civilian-on-civilian fighting, or from a steady stream of attacks
by the rebel Lord's Resistance Army operating in Central and
Western Equatoria since September 2008.
"The people of Southern Sudan have borne the brunt of the intense
inter-ethnic fighting, rebel attacks and clashes between the
northern and southern armies," Gagnon said.
Both the southern government and the national government need to do
more to prevent the violence and protect civilians, Human Rights
Watch said. The United Nations Mission in Sudan peacekeeping
mission should also increase efforts to prevent violence and
protect civilians, Human Rights Watch said.
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