February 2011 Monthly Forecast

Posted 28 January 2011
Download Complete Forecast: PDF


Expected Council Action
The official results of the Southern Sudan referendum are expected on 14 February or possibly earlier if there are no appeals lodged.

The Council is expected to meet after the announcement of the official results and issue a statement.

Key Recent Developments
The Southern Sudan referendum was conducted from 9 to 15 January. Preliminary results from voting centres indicate that there was a very high voter turnout in the south and at overseas voting centres, with a lower turnout in the north. Preliminary results based upon 80 percent of the ballots released by the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission (SSRC) indicate close to 99 percent voted for secession.

The Secretary-General’s panel on the referenda in Sudan reported on 16 January that “it was satisfied that the process allowed the people of Southern Sudan to express their will freely.” The Carter Center said the process was “broadly consistent with international standards for democratic elections and represents the genuine expression of the will of the electorate.” Preliminary statements from the EU, AU, Arab League and East African observer missions likewise assessed the vote as largely credible.

President of Sudan Omar Al-Bashir visited Juba on 4 January and said that he would recognise the result of the referendum. Bashir also called upon leaders in the south to deal with the presence of Darfur rebels in Southern Sudan.

On 6 January the head of UN peacekeeping, Alain Le Roy, briefed the Council in closed consultations on preparations for the referendum and on the security situation in Darfur. The Council issued a press statement:

  • welcoming the Sudanese parties’ commitment to respect the outcome of the referendum and appreciating the statement made by Bashir on 4 January;
  • welcoming progress made toward holding the Southern Sudan referendum;
  • noting with deep concern the absence of an agreement on Abyei; and
  • expressing deep concern over the increase in violence and insecurity in Darfur during December 2010.

From 7 to 9 January there were violent clashes in Abyei between Southern Sudanese police and armed Misseriya tribesmen that resulted in the death of twenty to thirty police. Some Misseriya have said the violence was intended to disrupt rumoured plans that the population of Abyei intended to hold an unofficial referendum on 9 January or to unilaterally declare Abyei as part of the south. The Misseriya leadership said that they saw the movement of 300 additional police into Abyei as a provocation.

Tensions were already high in Abyei due to the delayed referendum for Abyei and the increased numbers of people moving south to vote in the Southern Sudan referendum along the same routes as the annual migration of Misseriya cattle herds. Also, the Dinka and Misseriya tribes had yet to reach agreement on the terms of the Misseriya migration (usually agreed to in November or December, but delayed due to issues around planning for the referenda).

On 10 January, Misseriya detained a convoy of around 1,000 southerners travelling in Southern Kordofan towards Aweil in Northern Bahr el Ghazal state. The convoy was looted, with reports of abuse. Separately, a convoy of returnees was attacked in Southern Kordofan state, resulting in at least ten dead and 18 wounded.

On 17 January the special representative of the Secretary-General in Sudan, Haile Menkerios, mediated an agreement on security arrangements in Abyei between the interior ministers of the Government of Sudan and the Government of Southern Sudan. Parties agreed to:

  • remove the 300 police and replace them with two battalions of joint integrated military units;
  • disarm the Dinka and Misseriya;
  • allow returnees free movement, including securing road access to Abyei through southern Kordofan; and
  • grant freedom of movement and grazing for Misseriya moving through the Abyei area and southwards.

On 18 January, Menkerios and the head of the Secretary-General’s panel on the referenda in Sudan, Benjamin Mkapa, briefed the Council on the conduct of the Southern Sudan referendum. In a subsequent press statement, the Council:

  • welcomed the conclusion of a largely peaceful and orderly voting period;
  • commended the work of the SSRC and congratulated the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) for the support it provided; and
  • deplored the violence that occurred in Abyei and reiterated deep concern over the absence of an agreement on the status of Abyei.

On 26 January the head of the AU/UN Hybrid Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), Ibrahim Gambari, and senior peacekeeping official, Atul Khare, briefed the Council on the latest quarterly UNAMID and UNMIS reports respectively, including detail on UNAMID’s new strategy for protection of civilians. The strategy recognises the “mission must be more forceful in ensuring access”.

On 5 January hostage-takers released unharmed the UNAMID civilian staff member who had been kidnapped in October 2010. On 13 January armed men abducted three helicopter crewmembers contracted by the UN to fly humanitarian missions at a landing strip in Um-Shalaya, West Darfur state.

In Darfur on 23 January the Sudanese government raided the Zamzam internally displaced persons (IDP) camp in the outskirts of El Fasher in Northern Darfur state, reportedly to search for and arrest criminal elements. Authorities informed UNAMID three hours after the beginning of the operation. UNAMID has said this action did not abide by an agreement between UNAMID and the government requiring notice and consultations prior to any actions regarding IDP camps. The operation resulted in the arrest of 37 persons and one death.

On 26 January Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) soldiers surrounded the UNAMID site in Shangil Tobaya and the adjacent temporary IDP camp and threatened to burn down the camp and UNAMID team site if the peacekeepers continued to interfere with efforts to move the IDPs to other camps.

Promoting the Darfur peace process, the Qatari state minister for foreign affairs and the joint chief mediator of the Doha peace process toured Addis Ababa, New York and Cairo over the week of 17 January. On 30 December 2010 the mediators had suggested a range of compromise proposals to move negotiations forward, including creation of a regional authority in Darfur and a vice-president from the region. However, on 31 December the Sudanese delegation in Doha rejected the proposals and walked out of the negotiations.

On 30 December the Security Council Sudan Sanctions Committee released a report on its activities over the period 1 January to 31 December 2010 noting that its panel of experts had listed many ongoing problems, including:

  • continued violations of the arms embargo and of international humanitarian law and human rights, perpetrated by various belligerents in Darfur;
  • widespread sexual and gender-based violence;
  • military overflights and bombardments of Darfur; and
  • no concrete action by the Government of Sudan to implement the targeted travel and financial sanctions.

The Council has yet to publish the final report of the panel of experts.

Key Issues
A key issue for the Council is the timing of any statement on the result of the referendum.

Another key issue is how to maintain pressure on both parties to maintain momentum on post-referendum negotiations on key outstanding matters, including the status of Abyei, borders, citizenship and asset sharing.

Underlying Issues
The recent violence in Abyei highlighted the difficulty of enforcing on the ground any political agreement reached between the north and south.

The ruling party in Khartoum is factionalised. Statements made by one element have in the past been contradicted by other elements.

Tensions may rise in Southern Sudan if the official results announced after any appeals differ too markedly from the preliminary unofficial results being reported.

Tensions may also rise once the reality of the hard issues in the post referendum negotiations become apparent.

The Council could:

  • wait for regional groups such as the AU to comment on the result before issuing a statement;
  • adopt a statement tasking the Secretariat to prepare recommendations for the post-UNMIS UN role;
  • request a briefing in early March on post-referendum negotiations, including on the situation in Abyei; or
  • consider a more active Council conflict prevention role in connection with the Doha peace process.

Council Dynamics
Council members seem likely to wait until both parties to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) have responded to the official result before making any statement. Some members seem to prefer for the Council to wait until regional actors, such as the AU and the other observer missions, have commented on the result and the credibility of the counting process. All Council members appear to want to avoid the Council being seen to play any sort of validation role.

Council members seem impressed by the successful conduct of the referendum (some had thought this impossible only a few months earlier). But all are aware of the major hurdles in the post-referendum negotiations and the risks to the stability of both north and south Sudan. The Council seems united on the importance of maintaining close attention on the on-going post-referendum negotiations, in particular in relation to the situation in Abyei.

Council members are watching with interest what name a newly independent state in Southern Sudan might chose. Some are conscious of the problems that have arisen with names of new states in the past.

There appears to be significant concern among Council members on the deterioration in the security situation in Darfur and the possibility that the Doha process may be losing credibility.

The UK is the lead country on Darfur, and the US is the lead country on CPA issues.

Sign up for SCR emails
UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1945 (14 October 2010) renewed the mandate of the Darfur Sanctions Panel of Experts for another year.
  • S/RES/1935 (30 July 2010) renewed UNAMID.
  • S/RES/1919 (29 April 2010) renewed UNMIS.
  • S/RES/1593 (31 March 2005) referred the situation in Darfur to the ICC.
  • S/RES/1591 (29 March 2005) and S/RES/1556 (30 July 2004) imposed sanctions.

Latest Secretary-General’s Reports

Selected Security Council Meeting Records

  • S/PV.6474 (26 January 2011) was a briefing by the head of UNAMID and a senior peacekeeping official on the quarterly Secretary-General reports on UNAMID and UNMIS.
  • S/PV.6468 (18 January 2011) was briefings by the head of UNMIS and the head of the Secretary-General’s panel on the referenda in the Sudan.


  • S/2010/679 (30 December 2010) was the report of the Sudan Sanctions Committee covering the period 1 January to 31 December 2010.

Other Relevant Facts

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

  • Maximum authorised strength: up to 19,555 military personnel, 3,772 police and 19 formed police units (total police 6,432)
  • Main troop contributors: Nigeria, Rwanda, Egypt and Ethiopia
  • Military strength as of 28 December 2010: 17,468 military personnel
  • Police Strength as of 28 December 2010: 4,979 police personnel
  • Annual Budget: $1.81 billion
  • Duration: 31 July 2007 to present; mandate expires 31 July 2011 

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

  • Maximum authorised strength: up to 10,000 military and 715 police personnel
  • Main troop contributors: India, Bangladesh, Egypt and Pakistan
  • Military strength as of 30 December 2010: 9,745 military personnel
  • Police Strength as of 30 December 2010: 662 police personnel
  • Annual Budget: $938 million
  • Duration: 24 March 2005 to present; mandate expires 30 April 2011 

Sanctions Committee Chairman

Néstor Osorio (Colombia)

Joint AU-UN Chief Mediator

Djibril Yipènè Bassolé (Burkina Faso)

Full forecast

Subscribe to receive SCR publications