April 2006 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 March 2006
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Expected Council Action
Having sent a unanimous signal on 24 March that it remains committed to the transition from the AU Mission in Sudan (AMIS) to a UN peacekeeping operation in Darfur, the Council is unlikely to take action on the UN force mandate until it receives an options report from the Secretariat in late April. In the meantime, some members may want to stay engaged on Darfur with a presidential statement.

The African Union’s chief mediator, Salim Ahmed Salim, may brief the Council in April. This could set the stage for further Council action to bolster the Abuja peace talks.

Key Facts
The decision by the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) on 10 March to renew AMIS until September and accept the UN transition in principle has been interpreted by the Council as a go-ahead for transition planning. But the PSC decision highlighted AU concern for a partnership with the UN, stating that the transition should maintain the “African character of the mission” as much as possible and the AU’s leading role in the Darfur peace process, including the Abuja talks and the Darfur-Darfur dialogue.

Resolution 1663 of 24 March was a clear signal of Council commitment to transition, although some important differences still remain and will become clearer as events unfold.

There is now a thirty-day deadline for the presentation of a “range of options” for a UN operation in Darfur. The initial US draft set a deadline for the final transition plan.  But there were concerns with the impossibility of preparing a detailed final plan by 24 April, especially given the uncertainties of the outcome of the Abuja peace process.  Hence the agreement on “options”.

Council members expect that the planning will now build on three possible scenarios:

  • a peace agreement and a credible ceasefire;
  • the current status quo with a shaky ceasefire; or 
  • a collapse of the ceasefire. It is highly probable that the report will warn against the redeployment of UNMIS troops from southern Sudan into Darfur given the ongoing needs in the south and recent attacks against UNMIS by the Ugandan rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

There is wide consensus that a UN operation will not only include AMIS troops, but will also have to count on additional troops.

Controversy has surrounded proposals for an enhanced NATO role. US President George W. Bush has pushed for a NATO lead (NATO already supports AMIS with airlift and training). Recent statements from NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer suggest that the organisation would only have an “enabling” role vis-à-vis UN forces.

Given the minimum lead time of approximately six months for the deployment of a UN force, there is considerable pressure on the Council, and the UN and AU Secretariats for improvements to AMIS in the immediate future. Resolution 1663 thus requested the Secretary-General to plan on stepping up UN assistance to AMIS, especially with logistics, communications and mobility, including through consultations with regional and international organisations as well as member states.

The Secretary-General has strongly advocated for a pledging conference, now expected for late April in Brussels. But there are indications that the AU’s preferred strategy is to obtain resources bilaterally rather than multilaterally.

The PSC decision on 10 March contains a number of initiatives to improve the situation. The decision reformulated the mandate of AMIS to include contributions to civilian protection, mandating a “robust interpretation” of this mandate without the “immediate vicinity” limitation. It also directed the AU Commission to implement the changes suggested by the December 2005 joint assessment mission by the UN, the AU and key donors.

Nonetheless, observers note that the lack of training, resources, capacity and adequate size are likely to mean that significant improvements in the performance of AMIS cannot realistically be expected in the short term.

The AU has also tabled a draft enhanced ceasefire agreement in Abuja. But fragmentation among Darfur armed groups, particularly within the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM), has meant that little progress was made in the four months since the current round of peace talks started.

Resolution 1663 also set a thirty-day deadline for the report previously requested in resolution 1653, which is now to specifically include recommendations vis-à-vis the Lord’s Resistance Army.

The Sanctions Committee adopted guidelines after a compromise decision to refer disputes to the Security Council. This addressed France’s reservations against the consensus rule. The UK has presented a short draft list of individual violators. This list includes individuals from all sides, but refrains from naming high officials.

Key Issues
As the Council awaits the report of the Secretary-General, five issues will linger:

  • the need for resources for AMIS in the interim period while supporting the AU’s efforts to obtain Khartoum’s acceptance;
  • improving liaison with Khartoum;
  • pushing for a peace agreement in Abuja;
  • achieving some consensus on what a partnership with the AU will entail, particularly if the Abuja talks continue to drag along; and
  • adopting a list of individual violators.

As soon as the Secretary-General’s report is available, issues relating to the new mission’s size, mandate and funding will begin to be addressed. For more details, see our January and February Forecasts.

There is still some lack of clarity on how to proceed in the event a peace agreement is not reached and Khartoum opposes the transition. There is consensus that the optimal scenario is a peace agreement. Some believe that the “no peace to keep” scenario is unviable. As a result, Council members await the Secretary-General’s options while giving room for AU and bilateral contacts with Sudan.

Council Dynamics
Council dynamics have been characterised by:

  • The need for AMIS to be supported in the interim (resolution 1663 was thus seen as an important signal to donors and certain domestic constituencies that the transition is moving along. There was concern that, in the absence of indications that the transition will indeed happen, donors will not disburse longer-term funds for AMIS).
  • Pressure from the US for a speedy transition, with concern about delays in planning. There is some frustration with the fact that, despite the February mandate for contingency planning, the assessment team has not even departed for Sudan. (Khartoum’s opposition has been cited as one of the delaying factors.)
  • Opposition from Qatar, China and Russia to transition without Khartoum’s acceptance. There was much debate in the lead up to resolution 1663, some wanting to condition any mention of the transition to a peace agreement or to Khartoum’s consent. Others preferred a clear signal that transition might proceed even in the absence of Khartoum’s consent. A compromise was found that did not include either condition. The details of the transition have not been decided upon. Nonetheless, the agreed language adopted unanimously signals a fairly clear trend towards an eventual transition.
  • Concern from Japan and France about the potential costs of the transition.
  • Concern from the AU members of the Council-Ghana, Tanzania and the AU chair, Congo-Brazzaville-that the Council should recognise a prominent AU role in the composition of the new mission.

One result of resolution 1663 was that the presidential statement on transition being drafted by the UK lost momentum.

Khartoum’s position seems to have stiffened in the face of proposals for an enhanced NATO role in Darfur. Khartoum has received some support from Arab states, particularly Libya and Egypt. At the time of writing, the outcome of the Arab League summit in March was not known.

For its part, the AU seems inclined to work with Sudan to persuade it over time to consent to the transition. The AU formed a committee of heads of state and government-including the leaders of Burkina Faso, Congo-Brazzaville, Nigeria as well as AU Commission Chairman Alpha Konaré-to encourage Khartoum’s acceptance by September.

The inclusion of a reference to the LRA in resolution 1663-a UK initiative-is seen as a further step towards more concerted action against the LRA, but there are concerns with the financial implications of an additional enforcement mandate for UNMIS.

On the sanctions front, the small list presented by the UK seems to have been received with far less controversy than the list proposed by the Panel of Experts. But it is unclear whether it will be enough to dispel some members’ resistance, particularly China’s, against the use of targeted sanctions.

Prior to receiving the options report, options before the Council include:

  • adopting the list of violators; and
  • sending a Council mission to Abuja and possibly to Khartoum with the primary aim of improving the prospects for a compromise and putting pressure on the Abuja talks. The possibility of a visit has been raised in Council discussions.

Underlying Problems
The transition from AMIS to a UN force will be a complex endeavour. The difficulties with force generation will be significant. Obtaining the high-quality military resources the Secretary-General has asked for will be a further challenge. And the administrative tasks of what amounts to merging and expanding two existing operations will be huge.

With the security situation progressively deteriorating in Darfur, there are deep concerns with the fact that the ceasefire monitoring commission, chaired by Chad, has not met in several months. As a result, violations have not been reported. The mechanism also suffers from several deficiencies, including lack of independence. Key ceasefire provisions, including full disclosure of military positions, have never been observed. In addition to supporting a new draft ceasefire agreement, the PSC has called for an emergency meeting of the commission. Meanwhile, observers note constant violations and Khartoum’s inability to disarm the Janjaweed per its previous commitments.

New Chadian accusations of rebel support against Sudan have raised concerns with bilateral relations, all the more difficult with the presence of both Chadian and Darfurian rebels on both sides of the border. A March report from the AU Commission noted that a mission of six observers from Congo-Brazzaville, Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic and Libya is expected to be deployed along the common border, but the PSC declined to authorise AMIS to provide security for the observers.

Meanwhile, the situation in southern Sudan remains fragile. Besides the LRA, a major concern is with redeployments of both government and Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) troops per the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and the delays with the start of peace talks between the Eastern Front and Khartoum.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions
  • S/RES/1665 (29 March 2006) renewed the mandate of the Panel of Experts.
  • S/RES/1663 (24 March 2006) renewed UNMIS and set a thirty-day deadline for transition options.
  • S/RES/1593 (31 March 2005) referred the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court.
  • S/RES/1591 (29 March 2005) strengthened sanctions in Darfur.
  • S/RES/1590 (24 March 2005) established UNMIS.
  • S/RES/1556 (30 July 2004) established an arms embargo in Darfur and requested monthly reports.
 Selected Presidential Statements
  • S/PRST/2006/5 (3 February 2006) mandated the Secretariat to start contingency planning.
  • S/PRST/2005/67 (21 December 2005) expressed concern with the current situation, in particular the spill over effects in Chad.
 Selected Secretary-General’s Reports
  • S/2006/160 (14 March 2006) was the latest regular report on Sudan.
  • S/2006/148 (9 March 2006) was the latest report on Darfur at the time of writing.
  • S/2005/285 (3 May 2005) reported on UNMIS’ assistance to AMIS.
  • S/2005/57 (31 January 2005) assessed risks in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and proposed UNMIS.
 Selected Report of the Panel of Experts
 Other Documents
  • S/2006/156 (13 March 2006) contains the PSC decision.

For the historical background, please refer to our  February 2006 Forecast Report.

Other Relevant Facts 

 UNMIS: Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of Mission
 Jan Pronk (Netherlands)
 UNMIS Force Commander
 Lieutenant-General Jasbir Singh Lidder (India)
 UNMIS: Size and Composition of Mission
  • Maximum authorised strength: up to 10,000 military personnel
  • Strength as of 13 December 2005: 4,291 military personnel
  • Key troop contributors: Bangladesh, India, Nepal
 UNMIS: Cost
 1 July 2005 – 30 June 2006: $969.47 million (gross)
 AU’s Chief Mediator
 Salim Ahmed Salim (Tanzania)
 Head of AMIS
 Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe (Nigeria)
 AMIS Force Commander
 Major General Collins Remy Umunakwe Ihekire (Nigeria)
 AMIS: Size and Composition
  • Total authorised strength:  6,171 military and 1,560 police personnel
  • Strength as of 10 March 2006: 5,641 military and 1,390 police personnel
  • Key troop-contributing countries: Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Ghana
 AMIS: Cost
  • $466 million 

Useful Additional Sources

Full forecast