Expected Council Action
The Council is expected to hold consultations on Sudan prior to the start of voting in the Southern Sudan referendum, scheduled to be conducted for one week from 9 January. Council consultations are also expected following the end of voting. Any Council response will largely depend upon events on the ground.
The result of the referendum is unlikely to be known for at least three weeks after the end of voting, probably early February.
Also in January the Council expects a briefing from the head of peacekeeping, Alain Le Roy, on the regular ninety-day reports of the Secretary-General on UNMIS and UNAMID, which are due in early to mid-January.
The Sudan Sanctions Committee will receive the ninety-day interim report from the panel of experts mandated under resolution 1945.
Key Recent Developments
Registration for the Southern Sudan referendum closed on 8 December 2010 in all official polling locations except Egypt and the US, where it was extended to 18 and 22 December 2010 respectively. The Southern Sudan Referendum Bureau, based in Juba, announced that 3,275,577 people registered to vote in the ten states of southern Sudan. This figure does not include the voters registered in 114 registration centres in remote locations that are yet to be able to communicate their final tally. In the sixteen states of northern Sudan, 116,890 registered to vote. The following registered at the overseas voting locations where registration has closed: Australia (9,431), Canada (2,985), Ethiopia (7,370), Kenya (15,021), Uganda (13,291) and the UK (654). The final voter register will be published on 8 January, following the current period to hear objections and appeals.
A group based in the south of Sudan named the Supreme Council for Peace and Unity has filed a legal challenge with the constitutional court, alleging that the conduct of the registration process contravened the interim constitution and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The group argued that the referendum law stipulated that finalised voter lists should have been published three months prior to the vote. The petition calls for the halt of the referendum. The Southern Sudan Referendum Commission (SSRC) has said that the constitutional court has no jurisdiction to look into challenges to the SSRC and all preparations for the referendum will continue. The constitutional court has asked the SSRC to file a response no later than 26 December.
The Secretary-General’s panel on the referenda, led by the former president of Tanzania, Benjamin Mkapa, (“the Mkapa Panel”), on 9 December 2010, said that the registration process was transparent and free from organised manipulation. It noted that the achievements of the SSRC, operating under heavy constraints, with tight deadlines and limited communications infrastructure and financial and human resources, formed the basis for a credible referendum, which it expected could take place on 9 January. The Mkapa Panel will next travel to Sudan from 18 to 22 December.
At press timelittle progress had been made in negotiations between the parties of the CPA with regard to the north-south border, popular consultations in Blue Nile and South Kordofan states and the status of Abyei. The presidency (composed of President Omar Al-Bashir, First Vice President Salva Kiir and Vice President Ali Osman Taha) held negotiations every few days in the first weeks of December 2010 on the issue of Abyei, with mediation from the head of the AU High-Level Implementation Panel, Thabo Mbeki, but no agreement had been reached. This seems to suggest that a referendum on Abyei will not take place in January and a decision on whether Abyei will stay part of Southern Kordofan state or become part of Northern Bahr el Ghazal state would be made as part of a larger political deal.
On 6 December 2010, the Sudanese defence minister and the southern minister responsible for the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) signed a framework agreement on securing oilfields and related infrastructure in the south. Joint Integrated Units, comprising troops from the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and southern SPLA, would continue current security arrangements to protect oilfields, related infrastructure, oil companies and employees before and after the southern Sudan referendum. This arrangement would cease at the end of the interim period of the CPA (9 July).
On 8 December 2010, Sudanese aircraft dropped 18 bombs in the border area of the southern state of Western Bahr el Ghazal. No casualties were reported. This followed similar aerial attacks on 13 and 24 November in Northern Bahr el Ghazal state where a total of 14 civilians were injured. The SAF was reportedly targeting members of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), a key Darfur rebel group.
On 16 December 2010 the Council received briefings from the head of UN peacekeeping, Alain Le Roy, and Mkapa. Le Roy outlined UN contingency planning in Sudan to prepare for any large scale violence. Mkapa briefed the Council on the panel’s assessment of the conduct of the registration process and clarified the panel had no role in certifying the referendum. Representatives of the Government of Sudan and the SPLM also addressed the Council. The Council adopted a presidential statement, whereby it:
reaffirmed its support to the efforts of both parties to the full and timely implementation of the CPA;
noted with deep concern the absence of an agreement on Abyei and urged parties to calm tensions in Abyei and urgently reach agreement on other CPA issues, as well as post-referendum issues; and
urged both sides to respect their international obligations when determining questions of citizenship and residency.
Also on 16 December, the Council received a regular quarterly briefing from the Chair of the Sudan Sanctions Committee in closed consultations. The Council is yet to decide to publish the final Panel of Experts report that was conveyed by the Sudan Sanctions Committee to the Council at the end of November.
Negotiations on a peace agreement for Darfur seem stalled. The Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) is the only Darfur rebel group participating in the peace talks being held in Doha under theJoint AU-UN Chief Mediator, Djibril Bassolé. Bassolé has continued discussions with representatives of JEM and the Sudan Liberation Army/Movement (SLA/M) led by Abdel Wahid Al-Nur to seek their agreement to join the talks. On 19 December the mediators announced that the government of Sudan and JEM would start negotiations on a new cease-fire agreement (direct peace talks were suspended in May 2010). On 12 December, eight Darfur rebel groups—JEM, United Revolutionary Front Forces, SLA/M (led by Babiker Abdalla), LJM (led by Mahgoub Hussein), United Resistance Front, Democratic Justice and Equality Movement (DJEM), SLA/M (led by Khamis Abdalla Abakr) and the Democratic Revolutionary Forces Front—announced a new alliance to develop a joint position for the Doha negotiations. The LJM led by Hussein disassociates itself from the LJM negotiating in Doha.
On 1 December 2010, two people were killed and at least nine injured during the final leg of a four-day visit to Darfur by Bassolé and the Qatari foreign minister. Violence arose when student groups opposed to the Sudanese ruling party tried to participate in consultations with the mediators, believing the students involved in the consultations were aligned with the ruling party. The two groups clashed. After the mediators left the university, Sudanese security services opened fire on the group.
On 10 and 11 December 2010, clashes occurred between the Sudan military and forces loyal to Darfur rebel leader Minni Minnawi in Khor Abeche village, 80 kilometres northeast of Nyala, Southern Darfur. Minnawi’s group, a splinter faction of the SLA/M, was the only rebel group signatory to the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) signed in Abuja in May 2006. A SAF spokesperson said that Minnawi fighters were moving with weapons and vehicles outside the area assigned them under the DPA toward southern Sudan, where Minnawi is based. Minnawi said the DPA no longer held as the SAF had announced that his group was a legitimate military target. Two civilians were killed and 24 wounded. There was separate fighting on 14 December between Minnawi fighters and SAF around 60 kilometres south of El Fasher, Northern Darfur, when Minnawi fighters mistook the military escort of a government convoy in the area as a possible attack.
On 9 December 2010, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Luis Moreno-Ocampo, presented his twelfth report to the Council on the court’s work in Sudan. In a brief statement, Ocampo commented on the lack of cooperation of Sudan in executing the arrest warrants in the cases against President Al-Bashir, Ahmed Harun and Ali Kushayb. Ocampo said the arrest warrants against Bashir “will not go away.” Ocampo updated the Council on the case against two rebel commanders, Abdallah Banda Abakaer Nourain and Saleh Mohammed Jerbo Jamus, alleged to have attacked AU peacekeepers at their base in Haskanita in September 2007. The confirmation-of-charges hearing for the commanders was held on 8 December before the Pre-Trial Chamber I of the Court.
From 1 to 2 December 2010, Kuwait hosted an international donor summit to promote development in eastern Sudan, comprising Red Sea, Gedaref and Kassala states. Donors and investors pledged more than $3.5 billion to revitalise the region. Eastern rebels fought a war against Khartoum until they signed the Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement in October 2006.
A related issue continues to be reinforcing diplomatic efforts to reach agreement on Abyei.
A key issue for the Council is how to react to any possible referendum-related violence—either before, during or after the period of voting.
An issue for the Council in light of the evolving Council dynamics is maintaining a common understanding among Council members of the terms of reference of the Mkapa Panel.
Any delay to the start of voting in the referendum—even a very short, technical one—would be very difficult to communicate to all registered voters, particularly given weak communications infrastructure in much of southern Sudan. Voter enthusiasm could quickly turn into frustration and possible violence.
Even if the referendum is peaceful and credible, tensions are likely to rise in the period following the referendum, with the potential to spill over into violence, as decisions on key issues, particularly citizenship, border demarcation and the status of Abyei are delayed.
SAF and SPLA forces are in close proximity at several points on the prospective north-south border, a fact that raises the overall risk of clashes as tensions mount, particularly during the voting period and the period when the votes are being tallied. The SPLA might not continue the restraint it is currently demonstrating in the face of SAF aerial bombardments after the referendum has been held.
Inter-tribal divisions in the south also continue to persist in the face of weak security institutions and further contribute to the risk of manipulation and instability in South Sudan.
The transformation of the SPLM from a guerrilla movement to a ruling party remains incomplete. Likewise, the transformation of the SPLA from disparate guerrilla forces into a coherent professional army under civilian control will be a lengthy process.
urging all parties to support the peaceful conduct of the referendum and uphold ceasefire commitments;
welcoming recent efforts to resolve key issues; or
urging the parties to resolve all outstanding issues as soon as possible.
Another option is a statement following the end of voting:
on the conduct of the vote; and
urging all parties not to pre-empt the official announcement of results with any statements that could lead to confusion and anxiety amongst the populations in the north and south.
The Council is expected to remain highly engaged with events in Sudan throughout January. Bosnia-Herzegovina (which holds the presidency in January) seems determined that the Council be well-positioned to react swiftly to any developments on the ground warranting comment or action. The US and the UK (as lead countries on Sudan in the Council) are likely to take the lead on developing any specific Council response to events, as necessary.
The Council remains broadly united on the importance of the full implementation of the CPA through the peaceful conduct of the southern Sudan referendum and a resolution on Abyei, but tactical differences seem to remain between Council members on the specifics of the best approach.
There seem to be some small divergences between individual Council members’ current approach to the work of the Mkapa Panel. Members seem united on the importance of the panel’s acting as an “umbrella” to coordinate the activities of all international observer missions monitoring the referendum. Others emphasise the importance of the panel performing the “good offices” function of the Secretary-General to assist the parties in overcoming any difficulties during the process. Some will be looking to the panel’s report on the conduct of the referendum as a key indicator of the credibility of the process to guide their reaction. Many highlight that it is not the panel’s role to legally certify the result.
Given the number of briefings and Council consultations on Sudan in the past six weeks, incoming Council members Colombia, Germany, India, Portugal and South Africa have had many opportunities to get up to speed on the Council’s approach to the situation in Sudan and the UN’s understanding of events on the ground.
Selected Security Council Resolutions
Latest Secretary-General’s Reports
Selected Security Council Meeting Records
UNAMID: Joint AU-UN Special Representative for Darfur
Ibrahim Gambari (Nigeria)
UNAMID: Force Commander
Lt.-Gen. Patrick Nyamvumba (Rwanda)
UNAMID: Size, Composition, Cost and Duration
UNMIS: Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of Mission
Haile Menkerios (South Africa)
UNMIS: Force Commander
Maj.-Gen. Moses Bisong Obi (Nigeria)
UNMIS: Size, Composition, Cost and Duration
Sanctions Committee Chairman
To be announced
Joint AU-UN Chief Mediator
Djibril Yipènè Bassolé (Burkina Faso)