Sommaire: April 14, 2004: Commission provides EUR 1.5 million to support the peace process in Sudan (Brussels)
The European Commission is supporting with €1.5 million, through its Rapid Reaction Mechanism, the peace negotiations between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) to help them to reach a comprehensive peace agreement. Sudan has been embroiled in the longest running and one of the most devastating conflicts of post-colonial Africa. After a decade with on-off dialogues, the negotiations between the Government and the SPLM/A seem to have
reached the home stretch. Several sectoral accords, considered as major 'building blocks' on the way towards a comprehensive agreement, have been reached, thus building up momentum. This Commission funding provides support to the IGAD peace secretariat in Nairobi covering costs related to hosting the peace-talks during the coming 6 months as well as operational costs of the international cease-fire observation mechanism (the Verification and Monitoring Team, VMT).
Sudan has suffered from civil wars for all but 10 years (1972-82) since it gained independence in 1956. The wars, primarily rooted in divisions between the mainly Muslim North and the Christian/Animist Southern part, coupled with the often war-related famines, have led to more than 2 million deaths and over 4 million people being displaced.
After a decade of intermittent dialogue, the negotiations between the Government and the SPLM/A, under the auspices of IGAD, seem to have reached the home stretch. A series of documents has been negotiated and can be considered 'building blocks' for a comprehensive agreement, notably the Machakos Protocol (July 2002), an agreement on security arrangements (September 2003) and an agreement on wealth sharing (January 2004). A cease-fire memorandum was signed in November 2002 and since then fighting has ended in southern Sudan with the exception of occasional skirmishes.
Although the recent developments give rise to optimism regarding the possibility of reaching an all-encompassing agreement, some major 'building-blocks', such as power-sharing, remain to be settled. Thus, continued international involvement and support for the peace discussions and for the international monitoring of the accords already reached is essential to keep the momentum going, while any setbacks could quickly develop into full-scale fighting. A settlement of the conflict also has regional implications, improving relations between Sudan and its neighbours.
The European Commission has today decided to make available €1.5 million to support the operational costs of the IGAD peace secretariat in Nairobi related to hosting the peace-talks during the coming 6 months and the international cease-fire observation mechanism (the Verification and Monitoring Team, VMT), currently expanding operations in Southern Sudan. The VMT is expected to stay in place until an international peace-keeping mission is deployed.
The signing of a comprehensive peace agreement would be followed by a six-months 'pre-transition period' during which Government institutions will be put in place for the six-year transition which, according to the Machakos protocol, will conclude with a referendum in southern Sudan on secession or unity. The signature of a peace agreement would also enable the Commission to initiate a large-scale programme for post-conflict recovery, rehabilitation and development (approx €500 million).
 IGAD = Inter Governmental Authority on Development (Regional body with Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda as members)
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