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Sudan: The Darfur Crisis and the Status of the North-South Negotiations

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Publication Date: October 2004

Publisher(s): Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service

Series: RL32643

Topic: International relations (International relations)

Coverage: Sudan


The ongoing crisis in Darfur in western Sudan has led to a major humanitarian disaster, with an estimated 1.5 million people displaced and more than 200,000 refugees forced into neighboring Chad. While there are no reliable estimates of the number of people killed as a result of the conflict, some observers estimate that up to 70,000 people have been killed from 2003 to the present. The government of Sudan has denied or severely restricted access to international relief officials in Darfur, although some aid is now flowing to the area. Violence against civilians, however, continues unabated, according to United Nations officials. U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) officials assert that up to 320,000 could die by the end of 2004, irrespective of the international response. In August 2004, the African Union deployed 305 troops from Nigeria and Rwanda to protect an estimated 80 cease-fire monitors in Darfur. The mandate of these troops is to monitor a cease-fire agreement reached in April 2004 between the government of Sudan and two rebel groups: the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). In late September 2004, the government of Sudan agreed to accept 3,500 more troops, although the mandate of the African Union force does not allow it to protect civilians. Meanwhile, in September, negotiations between the government of Sudan and the SLA/JEM, under the auspices of President Obasanjo of Nigeria, the current Chairman of the African Union, ended without much progress. On July 30, 2004, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution (1556) calling on the government of Sudan to disarm the Janjaweed militia and to provide unfettered access for humanitarian relief agencies. The resolution also imposed an arms embargo on "non-governmental entities and individuals" in Darfur. In September, the Council passed Resolution 1564, calling on the government of Sudan to cooperate with an expanded AU force and threatened sanctions if the government fails to meet the Council's demands. Meanwhile, Sudan remains divided by a civil war between the North and South, and the three-fold negotiations are expected to concluded by the end of 2004. On May 26, 2004, the government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement signed three protocols on Power Sharing, the Nuba Mountains and Southern Blue Nile, and on the long disputed Abyei area. The signing of these protocols resolved all outstanding issues between the parties, although they must still negotiate and agree on a comprehensive cease-fire and modalities for implementation. On June 5, 2004, the government of Sudan and the SPLM signed the "Nairobi Declaration on the Final Phase of Peace in the Sudan." The declaration restated that the parties have agreed on the following: the Machakos Protocol (7/20/2002); Agreement on Security Arrangements (9/25/2003); Agreement on Wealth Sharing (1/7/2004); Agreement on Power Sharing (5/26/2004); Protocol on Southern Blue Nile and the Nuba Mountains (5/26/2004); and Protocol on the disputed Abyei Area (5/26/2004). Since the signing of the Nairobi Declaration, however, the talks have been stalled. For more information on Darfur and the NorthSouth negotiations, see CRS Issue Brief IB98043. This report will be updated as the situation warrants.