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iconCONFLICT(S) Updated December 31, 2009

Section Contents:  Introduction | NORTH-SOUTH WAR History | Actors | Peace Negotiations | Negotiations Timeline | DARFUR | History | Actors | Peace Process | Eastern Sudan



The inter-related conflicts and peace processes in Sudan present a monumental peacekeeping challenge. The protracted crisis in Darfur has put the African Union - and the broader international community - to a severe test. Deploying a new hybrid African Union-United Nations operation has proven difficult and progress continues to be slow. Meanwhile, implementation of the north-south peace agreement is faltering, with the UN mission struggling to keep it on track. No peace operation can succeed unless underpinned by a viable political process. Implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement has suffered badly from a lack of inclusiveness. Essentially a bi-lateral agreement, it has failed to generate support locally. The north-south peace process, meanwhile, is struggling in part because the main parties have stopped engaging each other politically and neither - especially the ruling elite in Khartoum - is inclined to open political space for other actors or let the UN play a major role. While both sides remain broadly committed to the CPA, neither is fully prepared to give up the military option



For all but 11 of the 52 years since its independence on 1 January 1956, Sudan has been engulfed in civil conflict and Sudanese leaders have been constantly engaged in suppressing uprisings in their western, eastern and southern peripheries. The North-South conflict between the Government of Sudan (GoS) and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A, which formally  ended with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement on 9 January 2005, had its root causes in disputes over resources, power, the role of religion in the state and self-determination. The 21-year conflict devastated a significant part of Africa's largest country and deprived the rest of stability, growth and development. More than two million people died, four million were uprooted and some 600,000 people sought shelter beyond Sudan's borders as refugees.

The conflict between the North and the South erupted in 1955, one year before Sudan gained its independence. At the time of negotiations for Sudan's independence, the southern representatives had been given assurances that their demands for greater autonomy would be given full consideration, but the subsequent government's policy ran counter to those promises and vigorously pursued policies of Arabization and Islamization.

The army seized power in 1958 and ruled through a military government until 1964, when it stepped down in favour of an interim civilian government. But elections in 1965 were inconclusive, the coalition government of Mohammed Ahmed Mahgoub was weak and, in 1969, Colonel Jaafar al Nimeiri seized power in a bloodless coup. His 10-member Revolutionary Command Council ruled Sudan through 1985, with a priority on ending the insurgency in the south. The GoS signed the Addis Ababa Accords with one of the southern factions, the Southern Sudan Liberation Front (SSLF), on 27 March 1972, guaranteeing autonomy for a southern region comprising the provinces of Equatoria, Bahr al Ghazal, and Upper Nile. Stability eluded the government, however, and several failed coup attempts against Nimeiri occurred over the next 13 years.

The North-South conflict worsened considerably in 1983 and Nimeiri decided to re-divide the South into three small regions, each with its own assembly. However, in September he announced the imposition of Sharia law. Even though the National People's Assembly rejected this proposed constitutional amendment declaring Sudan a formal Islamic state, the situation in the South continued to deteriorate. In the meantime, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) had emerged as the political expression of this dissatisfaction and rapidly gained military control over large areas of the south.

In March 1985 public discontent (provoked largely by a rise in food prices) culminated in a general strike and a bloodless military coup, and on 30 June 1989, Brigadier Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir seized power and formed a 15-member Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) for National Salvation, which declared its primary aim to be the resolution of the southern conflict. The new regime's proximity to the fundamentalist National Islamic Front (NIF)/Muslim Brotherhood, led by Dr. Hassan al-Turabi (the former deputy Prime Minister), became immediately apparent. Negotiations with the SPLM immediately collapsed over the issue of Islamic law. Hostilities resumed at the end of October 1989. The Sharia, once rejected in 1984, was again introduced in 1991 and the civil war continued.

The Army's fortunes took a turn for the better when the SPLA began to split into tribal factions. This GoS approach of 'divide and conquer' is a long-standing strategy that continues to be used successfully to this day. The SPLA was further weakened by the overthrow of its benefactor, Ethiopian President Mengistu. SPLA rebels were driven out of their southern strongholds and pushed toward the Ugandan border, signifying serious problems for the anti-Khartoum forces.

But support came to the SPLM/A from some of Sudan's neighbouring states, especially Uganda and Ethiopia, who were growing increasingly irritated by the Sudanese government's aggressive espousal of Islam. In 1995, the SPLA, now re-armed and re-supplied, took back territory lost during the 1980s. Khartoum now faced not only military setbacks but a significant drought and an economy that was in shambles.

In an effort to re-establish its legitimacy, the Turabi/Bashir-led government held elections in March 1996. Bashir was elected President while Turabi was elected to the National Assembly (heading the National Congress Party - the renamed NIF). The election gave Turabi enough political power to remove Bashir from the presidency and to begin placing army officers, who were both Muslim and loyal to him rather than to Bashir. In December 1999, President al-Bashir dissolved the National Assembly and declared a state of emergency after a parliamentary power struggle. During the 2000 elections Bashir won 85 percent of the vote. Soon thereafter, Bashir had Turabi arrested.

In May 2001, President Bashir and SPLA rebel leader John Garang agreed to meet in Nairobi to negotiate an end to the civil war, but the Sudanese government refused to meet Garang's demands: a provision for the separation of church and state, the right to self-determination, the creation of an interim constitution, and the creation of an interim government.

The 'war on terrorism' following 11 September had significant implications for Sudan, as the Khartoum regime had been closely linked with Osama bin Laden and other radical Islamist groups and was threatened with political and economical isolation for being branded a country in support of Islamic terrorism. This together with a further declining economy, the inability to exploit its oil wealth because of the war, the rising cost of the war and the realization by both sides that victory could not be won on the battlefield, forced the parties, encouraged by great international pressure, to negotiate for peace. In June 2002, the Inter-Governmental Agency for Development (IGAD) renewed mediation efforts between the government and rebels. These eventually led to a Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005.


Main Political Parties

Muslim Brotherhood / National Islamic Front / National Congress Party

The Muslim Brotherhood, which originated in Egypt, has been active in Sudan since its formation in 1949.  Its objective in Sudan has been to institutionalize Islamic law throughout the country. Dr. Hassan Abd Allah al-Turabi, former dean of the School of Law at the University of Khartoum, had been the Muslim Brotherhood's secretary-general since 1964. He began working with Nimeiri in the mid-1970s, and, as his attorney general in 1983, played a key role in the controversial introduction of Sharia. After the overthrow of Nimeiri, Turabi was instrumental in setting up the National Islamic Front (NIF), a Brotherhood-dominated organization that included other political parties as well. The National Congress Party (NCP), Sudan's ruling party, was created in 1998 by some former NIF politicians.  Since then, the NCP has consolidated its power. At the last legislative elections, in December 2000, the party won 355 out of 360 seats.  Although political parties were legalized in 1999 after a 10-year ban, the opposition largely boycotted the general election in 2000 that saw President al-Bashir re-elected with 86.5 per cent of the vote.  Under the power-sharing arrangements agreed with the SPLM/A in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which came into effect in July 2005, the NCP retains a majority stake in the new Government of National Unity, occupying 234 of the 450 seats in the National Assembly.

Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A)

The Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) and its military wing the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) - known collectively as Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) - is a Sudanese rebel movement turned political party. Based in Southern Sudan, the SPLM/A fought in the Second Sudanese Civil War against the Sudanese government from 1983 to 2005. It was founded by John Garang and Salva Kiir Mayardit, among others.  By 1989 the SPLA's strength had reached 20,000 to 30,000; by 1991 it was estimated at 50,000 to 60,000. Over the years, the SPLM/A has splintered and re-merged a number of times. At one point in the early 1990s, there were three main factions: the SPLA Torit faction led by John Garang; the SPLA Bahr-al-Ghazal faction led by Carabino Kuany Bol; and the South Sudan Independence Movement led by Riek Machar. By January 2002, most of the various splinter groups had reconciled under Garang's leadership. The SPLM/A finally ceased hostilities with the government in the two years of negotiations that led to the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).  Under the terms of this agreement, the SPLM/A now controls the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) and has a 28 per cent stake in the Government of National Unity.

Main Opposition Parties

Umma Party - During the last period of parliamentary democracy, the Umma Party was the largest political party in the country. Originally founded in 1945, the Umma was the political organization of the Islamic Ansar movement. It supporters followed the strict teachings of the Mahdi, who ruled Sudan in the 1880s. Although the Ansar were found throughout Sudan, most lived in rural areas of western Darfur and Kordofan. Since Sudan's independence in 1956, the Umma Party has experienced alternating periods of political prominence (most recently in the 1986 elections that led to an Umma government under Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi until it was overthrown by the NIF in 1989) and persecution. The Umma was an Islamic party dedicated to achieving its own Muslim political agenda for Sudan. Today there are five active political factions of the Umma Party, each claiming political legitimacy. The most prominent of these factions is the Umma Party (Reform and Renewal) headed by Mubarak al Fadil al Mahdi, who is the first cousin of Sadiq al Mahdi and former Interior Minister when the Umma Party was last in power under Sadiq as Prime Minister from 1986 to 1989.

Democratic Unionist Party - The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) is the oldest political party in Sudan and is similarly based on a religious order, the Khatmiyyah organization. Historically, the DUP has been plagued by factionalism, stemming largely from the differing perspectives of secular-minded professionals in the party and the more traditional religious values of their Khatmiyyah supporters.  The party has long-standing relations with the SPLM with whom it signed the November Accords in 1988 in Addis Ababa, which were opposed by the NIF.  The DUP boycotted the last legislative elections in December 2000.

Other Political Parties

A number of political parties have accepted seats in the National Assembly that were allocated in accordance with the CPA's power-sharing formula, later modified on account of the Darfur Peace Agreement and Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement.  In addition to the NCP, the following Northern Sudanese parties are represented in the National Assembly: National Democratic Alliance, Registered Democratic Unionist Party, Umma Party (Reform and Renewal), Federal Umma Party, Umma Party (Collective Leadership), Ansar Al-Suna, Muslim Brotherhood and Parties' Forum.  Southern Sudanese parties represented at the national level are: SPLM, Union of Sudan African Parties, United Democratic Salvation Front, United Democratic Front, Sudanese African National Union and Southern Sudan Democratic Forum.  The Umma Party (Mainstream) and the Popular National Congress Party (led by Hassan al-Turabi) have declined to participate in the National Assembly. [vii]

Other Armed Groups and tribal militia

Armed violence in Southern Sudan has been a consequence of the country's history of civil war and localized conflicts between competing ethnic groups.  The government's policy of manipulation and exploitation from the periphery was pursued not only through the use of the armed forces but also through proxy militia.  Public authorities frequently avoided accusations of waging war by making their proxies out for 'bandits' or describing their activities as 'tribal conflict'. These circumstances have led to the emergence of an array of armed groups in Southern Sudan. Small Arms Survey has documented the one time existence of at least seventy armed groups with different interests and areas of control. [i] Although many of the armed groups ultimately joined forces with the SPLM/A, the frequent fragmentation of these groups served to prolong the armed violence in Southern Sudan. [ii]

The CPA stipulated that all existing Other Armed Groups aligned to either the Government of Sudan or SPLA should either be integrated into the organized forces of one of the Parties (army, police, prisons or wildlife service), or disarmed, demobilized and reintegrated into civilian life.  The peace agreement did not lead to an immediate cessation of armed violence.  Armed groups continued to be manipulated by the CPA parties and hostilities continued between the SPLA and other armed groups that refused to disband or integrate.  [iii]

The raiding of tribal militia, clashes between pastoralist groups competing over grazing land and access to water, incursions by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and common predatory activity also contributed to escalating rates of armed violence in the wake of the CPA. [iv]

As part of the South-South dialogue process, on 8 January 2006, the SPLA signed the Juba Declaration on Unity and Integration of SPLA and SSDF with Paulino Matip, the leader of the Southern Sudan Defence Force (SSDF), an umbrella organization comprising the majority of Other Armed Groups formerly aligned with the Sudanese Armed Forces.[vi]  The SPLA's integration of Other Armed Groups is largely complete, although integration of other new militia groups continue.  Meanwhile, a small number of former SSDF soldiers have opted to align with the Sudanese Armed Forces. [v]

Peace Negotiations

The long way to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement

The SPLM/A insurrection broke out in 1983 and, with support from the Warsaw Pact countries and neighbouring countries, it quickly became a national crisis. Various Sudanese governments achieved little progress in resolving the SPLM/A grievances. Key issues involved accepting the SPLM/A as a national party with an agenda for reconstructing the entire country, and its demands to suspend the Sharia laws introduced by Nimeiri, end defence agreements with Arab countries and hold a constitutional conference. In March 1986, at Koka Dam in Ethiopia, agreement was reached on all the SPLM/A's demands but the refusal of key major parties (DUP and NIF) to participate in the discussions undermined the agreement.

The next prospect of ending the war was the DUP--SPLM/A agreement in November 1988, essentially affirming all of the SPLM/A's demands, including the holding of a constitutional conference. However, the DUP--SPLM/A accord was not implemented. Significantly, despite popular support, the agreement was strongly opposed by the NIF, which then left the government. As arrangements for the constitutional conference proceeded, a group of army officers with ties to the NIF (and led by Lt-General Omar Al-Bashir, the current President of Sudan) seized power. This action effectively ended internal Sudanese efforts at peace-making.

Subsequent peace initiatives were to be dominated by the regional and international communities. Moreover, the 1991 overthrow of the regime of Mengistu Hailemariam in Ethiopia (the SPLM/A's foremost foreign supporter) and a schism within the rebel movement that led to the defection of Dr. Riek Machar and his Nuer followers in the same year, seriously weakened the SPLM/A. That confluence of events led the GoS to look increasingly to a military victory, and not peace negotiations, to bring the conflict to an end.

The Inter-Governmental Authority on Drought and Desertification (IGADD, the forerunner of today's IGAD) took up the peace process as its member states had a clear interest in containing Sudan's civil war and stopping the spread of political Islam. IGADD established a Declaration of Principles (DoP); that included a number of provisions relating to human rights and the stipulation that the unity of Sudan be given priority, that its government should be secular and democratic, and that resources be equitably shared. Although the IGAD Peace Initiative had some genuine accomplishments (a well-thought-out DoP, workable relations with the belligerents, an institutional focus in the Sudan Secretariat, and international legitimacy) it had become apparent to most analysts and the belligerents by late 2001 that the process needed invigoration, and this could only come through international engagement led by the US.

The US President's Special Envoy to Sudan, Senator Danforth, proposed a series of confidence-building measures, comprising a cease-fire in the Nuba Mountains, zones and times of tranquility, a commission to report on the issue of slavery, and an end to attacks on civilian targets (all of which achieved some, but not complete, compliance).

The US administration repeatedly made it clear that it supported regional efforts led by IGAD, and the support of the UK, Norway and Italy, led by the US, breathed life into the faltering IGAD peace process, and their sustained engagement proved critical to achieving the Machakos Protocol and to the continuing progress since then.

The Machakos Protocol was a breakthrough in two key areas. First, the SPLM/A agreed that Sharia would remain the source of legislation in the North, while the South would be governed by a secular administration. Second, Khartoum accepted an internationally monitored referendum that would be held after a transition period of six and a half years, in which the South would decide whether to secede or continue to exist within a united federal Sudan. The Machakos Protocol also constituted a framework for negotiation of the outstanding issues and outlined the basic tenets of the final peace agreement. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Cessation of Hostilities was signed in October 2002 and, in February 2003, the parties signed an addendum to the cessation of hostilities to strengthen the implementation of the MoU. A significant provision of the addendum was the creation of a Verification and Monitoring Team (VMT), which comprised the two parties plus personnel and aircraft from the existing Civilian Personnel Monitoring Team (CPMT), IGAD, African Union (AU), observer nations and other nations acceptable to the parties.

In September 2004, when the parties concluded negotiations on security arrangements without the IGAD mediators, both parties described the peace process as 'irreversible.' Yet as negotiations of details pertaining to a formal cease-fire agreement and modalities to implement the protocols seemed to drag on endlessly, the United States used its presidency of the UN Security Council to convene a Security Council session in Nairobi, in November 2004, to press the parties to conclude a comprehensive peace accord by the end of 2004. On 9 January 2005, both parties signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in Nairobi, concluding the IGAD peace process.

Missions established as a result of the various peace processes

In January 2002, following diplomatic activity by United States Special Envoy John Danforth, the GoS and SPLM/A reached agreement on Danforth's four tests for the parties to demonstrate their commitment to the peace process. These four tests were:

  • an internationally-monitored ceasefire agreement in the Nuba Mountains to enable humanitarian relief;
  • commitment to an international verification mechanism to monitor an agreement not to target civilians in the south;
  • an international eminent persons commission to investigate the problem of slavery in the Sudan; and
  • establishment of zones and days of 'tranquility' in the conflict areas where health agencies could carry out polio, guinea worm and bovine rinderpest campaigns.

Joint Monitoring Mission / Joint Military Commission (JMC) - Nuba Mountains / Southern Kordofan

Brokered by the US and Swiss governments, the Nuba ceasefire was an undertaking by the Sudanese government and SPLM/A to end the abduction of civilians; allow international monitors to investigate attacks on civilians; and establish tranquility to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid in the Nuba region of Southern Kordofan, south-central Sudan.

The negotiated ceasefire, which came into force on 22 January 2002, effectively ended major fighting in the Nuba Mountains and permitted humanitarian operations to avert a potential famine in the region. As part of the ceasefire agreement, the JMC began work on 20 March 2002 under the political direction of the Friends of the Nuba Mountains, 12 European and North American countries that funded the JMC and provided its 39, mostly civilian, international personnel. With a budget of approximately $18 million per year, the JMC carried out its monitoring responsibilities with mixed teams, consisting of representatives of the SPLM/A, the government and international members. Operating in a permissive environment with the support of both parties to the ceasefire, the monitoring teams were unarmed. The teams conducted joint patrols, investigated complaints, inspected humanitarian aid, facilitated conflict resolution and cross-ceasefire line meetings and enabled the free movement of civilians and goods. 

The Nuba Mountains ceasefire and its implementation provided a model for the entire Sudanese peace process, particularly due to its historic interaction with both the North and the South. A baseline study on the Nuba Mountains, carried out by the Office of the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan in November 2002, said the ceasefire had contributed to an improvement of people's lives and facilitated increased freedom of movement, as well as improved access to assets and resources. As a result of the progress in Nuba, the parties were encouraged to move on towards negotiating a final peace deal for the region in later rounds of talks, which also focused on the disputed areas of western Upper Nile and southern Blue Nile. The JMC handed over its responsibilities to the United Nations shortly after UNMIS was established.

Civilian Protection Monitoring Teams (CPMT)

The CPMT began operations in late 2002 to monitor alleged abuses against civilians in disputed regions of Sudan, and the CPMT mechanism was hailed for addressing one of the most significant components that had been missing in the Sudan peace process: human rights and humanitarian verification and reporting. The CPMT's strength was its logistical capacity and military analysis and, before its work was significantly limited through interference from the GoS, the CPMT was able to provide an especially authoritative source of documentation for violations from January though early March 2003. Humanitarian observers said the CPMT had bridged a gap that could not have been filled by OLS, whose humanitarian nature would have been jeopardized by documenting and reporting on abuses. Critics of the CPMT argued that its mandate remained unclear and its progress was slow, probably due to a lack of personnel with knowledge and experience of Sudan, its peoples and history.

Verification Monitoring Teams (VMT)

Another major breakthrough in the peace process came in October 2002 with the signing of a MOU on Cessation of Hostilities, thereby undertaking, among other things, 'to take all necessary steps to facilitate the immediate voluntary return of the civilian population of western Upper Nile to their villages.' Under the same MOU, the parties agreed to allow 'unimpeded humanitarian access to all areas and for people in need, in accordance with the Operation Lifeline Sudan [OLS] Agreement.'

On 5 February 2003, the parties signed an addendum agreement that further strengthened the October 2002 MOU. It also announced the formation of a joint military Verification and Monitoring Team (VMT), which would incorporate elements of the work of existing Civilian Protection Monitoring Teams (CPMTs) already working on the ground to verify reports of civilian violations, but would also expand to include the monitoring and investigation of violations of the MoU, especially those related to the cessation of hostilities and the supply of weapons and ammunition. Since the MoU also stipulated that both parties would 'refrain from any acts of violence or other abuse on the civilian population,' the VMT was to be a force with a mandate very similar to that of the CPMT. But rather than strengthening the scrutiny and investigation of military attacks on civilians, the introduction of the VMT eventually led to Khartoum's suspending of access for the CPMT and attempts to stall the creation of a viable VMT force. Eventually, the VMT was established and carried out a number of investigations of ceasefire violations, although its range of action and level of success continued to be limited until its disbandment shortly after the arrival of UNMIS.

Comprehensive Peace Agreement

The signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) on 9 January 2005 between the Government of the Republic of the Sudan (GoS) and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) marked the end to 22 years of protracted civil war.

The CPA consists of six separate Protocols and five sets of Implementation Modalities, agreed to over a period of two and a half years of negotiations between the government and the SPLM, which were facilitated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). The various agreements focused on the major negotiating issues, with the Protocols generally describing substantive provisions and the Implementation Modalities setting forth detailed procedures, timing and responsible parties for each activity mandated by the Protocols.

Together the following documents make up the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA):

- The Machakos Protocol (signed 20 July 2002);
- Security Arrangements (signed on 25 September 2003);
- Wealth Sharing (signed 7 January 2004);
- Power Sharing (signed 26 May 2004)
- Resolution of the Conflict in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile (signed 26 May 2004);
- Resolution of the Abyei Conflict (signed 26 May 2004)

Implementation Modalities:
- Permanent Ceasefire and Security Arrangements (signed 31 December 2004);
- Machakos and Power Sharing (signed on 31 December 2004);
- Wealth Sharing (signed 31 December 2004);
- Resolution of the Abyei Conflict (signed 26 May 2004)
- Resolution of the Conflict in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile (signed 26 May 2004);

The CPA comprises the six protocols signed by the government and SPLM/A since the Machakos talks. In the protocol on power sharing, the parties agreed to establish a government of national unity inspired by democracy, respect for human rights, justice, devolution of power to the states and the government of southern Sudan, and good governance. The protocol also outlines the different layers of government and their compositions, and plans for general elections at all levels of government to be concluded by the end of the third year of the interim period. The wealth-sharing protocol details arrangements for sharing oil revenue and other natural resources. Although revenue from Sudan's oil deposits will be divided evenly between North and South, communities in areas of oil production will have a say in oil contracts.

In the Framework Agreement on Security Arrangements during the interim period, the parties agreed to an internationally monitored permanent cease-fire and subsequent verification of redeployment of government and SPLA forces, demobilization of considerable numbers of both armies, and the monitoring of the creation of new joint and integrated units. In the interim period, there will be three forces - government troops, SPLA forces, and integrated units made up of soldiers from both sides. In the protocol on the Resolution of Conflict in Southern Kordofan / Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile states, the parties reached an understanding on matters related to administration and popular consultations in the two areas. The protocol on the Resolution of Conflict in Abyei provides for mechanisms for a referendum on whether Abyei will remain part of the north or become part of the south.

In the Machakos Protocol, the parties resolved the status of state and religion and the right of self-determination for the people of southern Sudan. Islamic law applies only in the North, only for Muslims. An independent judiciary is established in both areas. While the parties established the unity of Sudan as a priority, the CPA provides for a six-month pre-interim process, followed by a six-year interim period during which interim institutions would govern the country and international monitoring mechanisms would be established. At the end of the period, i.e. 8 July 2011, the people of southern Sudan would vote in an internationally monitored referendum to confirm the unity of the Sudan or to vote for secession.

In the Protocol on Power Sharing, signed on 26 May 2004, the parties agreed to establish a Government of National Unity. The new Government of Southern Sudan exercises authority in the South. The parties also agreed to power sharing arrangements providing for fixed representation in national institutions, including parliament, among the formerly warring parties. The Protocol outlines the different layers of government as well as their composition and sets out a schedule for general elections at all levels of government to be completed, according to the implementation modalities, by the end of the fourth year of the interim period (i.e. July 2009). A number of other institutions, commissions and committees were also created.

In the Framework Agreement on Security Arrangements, dated 25 September 2003, the parties agreed to an internationally monitored ceasefire that came into effect with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. International monitoring and assistance would include the monitoring and verification of a large number of military personnel, including the redeployments of the parties' respective armed forces and the monitoring of some 39,000 military personnel within joint/integrated units. The parties also agreed to implement disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes that would include the demobilization of military of both armies as well as of other armed groups.

The subsequent Agreement on Permanent Ceasefire and Security Arrangements Implementation Modalities during the Pre-Interim and Interim Periods of 31 December 2004 (the Ceasefire Agreement) details the monitoring and verification role of the United Nations peace support operation (UNMIS). In addition, the Ceasefire Agreement calls for the active participation of the UNMIS in a number of bodies to assist in the implementation of the Agreement, including the Ceasefire Political Commission, Ceasefire Joint Military Committee, Area Joint Military Committees and joint military teams to be deployed throughout the area of operations. The Ceasefire Joint Military Committee and the Area Joint Military Committees are chaired by UNMIS staff.

The detailed Wealth Sharing Agreement provided for a new national currency, created parallel central banks for North and South, and set specific revenue sharing formulas for the South and the disputed areas of Southern Kordofan state, Blue Nile state, and Abyei (the so-called Three Areas). The Government of Southern Sudan and the central government are to split all oil and other revenue derived from the South evenly. Separate southern and National Reconstruction and Development Funds will be charged with reconstruction, resettlement, reintegration, and development.

A boundary commission is established to fix the North-South line of demarcation. In accordance with the Protocol on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Abyei Area of 26 May 2004, Abyei's position in the North or the South is to be determined by the binding judgment of the Abyei Boundary Commission and a referendum. In the Protocol on the Resolution of the Conflict in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile States of 26 May 2004, the parties reached understanding on matters related to administration, popular consultation and other issues in respect of the two conflict areas.

Negotiations Timeline



  • Addis Ababa Agreement between the Government of Sudan and the SSLM /Anya Nya, Addis Ababa, 27 February 1972
  • Koka Dam Declaration by the SPLM/A and NANS, Koka Dam. 24 March 1986
  • November Accords between the SPLM/A and DUP, Addis Ababa, 16 November 1988


  • Frankfurt Declaration by the Government of Sudan and the SPLM/A-Nasir, Frankfurt, January 1992
  • Agreement on Reconciliation of the divided SPLM/SPLA, between the SPLM/A-Torit and SPLM/A-Nasir,Abuja, 19 June 1992
  • The Nairobi Communiqué of the National Democratic Alliance, Nairobi, 17 April 1993
  • The Washington Declaration by the SPLM/A and SPLM/A-United, Washington, DC, October 1993
  • Declaration of Principles (IGADD), Nairobi, 20 July 1994 (signed by the Government of Sudan July 1997)
  • Chukudum Agreement between the SPLM/A and Umma Party, Chukudum, Sudan, December 1994
  • Political Charter between the Government of Sudan and the SPLA-United, 26 April 1995
  • Asmara Declaration by the NDA (DUP, Umma, SCP, USAP (Surur), SPLM/A, Trades Union, Legitimate command, Beja Congress, SAF, Independents), Asmara, June 1995
  • Operation Lifeline Sudan Agreement on Groundrules between the SPLM/A and UNICEF, July 1995; between the SSIM/S and UNICEF, August 1995; between the SPLM/A-United and UNICEF, May 1996
  • Political Charter between the Government of Sudan, the SSIM/A and SPLM/A-Bahr el Ghazal Group, 10 April 1996
  • Declaration of Principles for the Resolution of the Nuba Mountains' Problem between the Government of Sudan and the Nuba Mountains United SPLM/A, Nairobi, 31July 1996
  • Sudan Peace Agreement (or Khartoum Peace Agreement) between the Government of Sudan, the SSDF, the SPLM/A Bahr el-Ghazal; the SSIG; the EDF; the USAP and theBor Group, Khartoum, 21 April 1997
  • Fashoda Peace Agreement between the Government of Sudan and the SPLM/A-United, Fashoda, 20 September 1997
  • Wunlit Dinka-Nuer Covenant, Wunlit, 10 March 1999
  • Waat Lou-Nuer Covenant, Waat, 8 November 1999
  • Liliir Covenant (Anyuak, Dinka, Jie, Kachipo, Murle Nuer) Liliir, May 2000
  • Memorandum of Understanding between the SPLM and the Popular National Congress, Geneva, 19 February 2001
  • Kisumu Declaration, Kisumu, June 2001


  • Nairobi Declaration on Unity by the SPLM/A and the SPDF, 6 January 2002
  • Nuba Mountains Ceasefire Agreement between the Government of Sudan, the SPLMNuba, Burgenstock, 19 January 2002
  • Machakos Protocol between the Government of Sudan and the SPLM/A, Machakos, 20 July 2002
  • Memorandum of Understanding on the Cessation of Hostilities between the Government of Sudan and the SPLM/A, Machakos, 15 October 2002
  • Agreement on the extension of the Memorandum of Understanding on the Cessation of Hostilities between the Government of Sudan and the SPLM/A, Nairobi,18 November 2002
  • Memorandum of Understanding on Aspects of Structures of Government between the Government of Sudan and the SPLM/A, Nairobi, 18 November 2002
  • Kampala Declaration, (civil society groups), Kampala, 24 November 2002
  • Towards a brighter future for the Nuba Mountains (Resolutions of the All-Nuba Conference), Kauda, 5 December 2002


  • Memorandum of Understanding regarding Points of Agreement on Power Sharing and Wealth Sharing between the Government of the Sudan and the SPLM/A, Karen, 6 February 2003
  • Addendum to the Memorandum of Understanding on Cessation of Hostilities between the Government of Sudan and the SPLM/A, Karen, 4 February 2003
  • Cairo Declaration by the SPLM/A, the DUP and the Umma Party, Cairo, 24 May 2003
  • Framework Agreement on Security Arrangements during the Interim Period between the Government of the Sudan and the SPLM/A, Naivasha, 25 September 2003
  • Jeddah Agreement between the Government of Sudan and the NDA, Jeddah, December 2003


  • Agreement on wealth sharing during the pre-interim and interim period between the Government of Sudan and the SPLM/A, Naivasha, 7 January 2004
  • A Charter for Peace agreed at the Nuer Fangak People's Peace Conference, Fangak, 4 April 2004
  • Protocol between the Government of Sudan and the SPLM/A on the Resolution of Conflict in Southern Kordofan/Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile States, Naivasha, 26 May 2004
  • Protocol between the Government of Sudan and the SPLM/A on the Resolution of the Abyei Conflict, Naivasha, 26 May 2004
  • Protocol on Power Sharing between the Government of the Sudan and the SPLM/A, Naivasha, 26 May 2004
  • The Nairobi Declaration on the Final Phase of Peace in the Sudan by the Government of Sudan and the SPLM/A, Nairobi, 5 June 2004
  • Joint Communique between the Government of Sudan and the United Nations on the Occasion of the visit of the Secretary General to Sudan, Khartoum, 3 July 2004
  • Declaration on the Conclusion of IGAD Negotiations on Peace in the Sudan by the Government of Sudan and the SPLM/A, Gigiri, Nairobi, 19 November 2004
  • The Implementation Modalities of the Protocol on Power Sharing dated 26th May 2004, between the Government of Sudan and SPLM/A, Naivasha, 31 December 2004
  • Agreement on implementation modalities of the protocols and agreements between the Government of the Sudan and the SPLM/A, Naivasha, 31 December 2004
  • Agreement on Permanent Ceasefire and Security Arrangements Implementation Modalities during the Pre-Interim and Interim Periods between the Government of the Sudan and the SPLM/A, Naivasha, 31 December 2004


  • The Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the Government of the Sudan and the SPLM/A, Naivasha, 9 January 2005.


DARFUR History

Immediate Trigger

The current war in Darfur began in late 2002 and early 2003 when two rebel groups, the Sudanese Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) launched a series of raids and attacks against government police and military installations in the Jebel Mara region of the Darfur states In April 2003, these actions culminated in a dramatic and unexpected attack on the El Fasher military installations that destroyed a small number of fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft, killed a large number of government military personnel and led to the capture of the base's senior government military officer against very modest loses for the rebels.

Although the immediate cause for rebel action was, broadly speaking, a matter of self-defence by the Fur and Zaghawa, African tribes (identified by themselves and the government as African) in face of increasing attacks from militia fighters from Arab-identified tribes over access to land and water, the SLM/A was convinced that the Arab militia were being directed by Khartoum. This knowledge alongside the historic marginalization of Darfur by the central government was the basis for identifying their target as the central government, not the Arab tribes of Darfur.

The central government in Khartoum (GoS) was aware of the rising tensions in the Darfur region prior to the outbreak of fighting. In 2002, GoS had sent stern warnings to would-be rebel groups that any effort to follow the example of the SPLM/A's violent campaign in South Sudan would be met with decisive and punishing force by Khartoum. However, while the government did, in fact, respond to the initial rebel campaign with military force, the Sudanese army was under-strength, ill-prepared and ill-equipped to contain the more mobile rebel forces on the open and arid terrain of Darfur. Also many of the troops the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) brought from the battlefields of South Sudan were Darfurian and reluctant to fight their own people.

The government therefore had to rely increasingly on airpower (converted Antonov bombers and helicopter gunships) to counter the fast moving rebels in Land Cruisers, and the success of the El Fasher operation, among other rebel victories, convinced the Khartoum regime that a conventional military response would not be sufficient to quell the rebellion. The government decided to adopt a strategy centred on the use of local militia groups and set in motion the unleashing of the now notorious 'janjaweed' militia and their scorched-earth tactics. While the rebels have not been, to date, defeated by the combination of militia and regular GoS forces, the civilian toll of the government's strategy in terms of dead, wounded and displaced has been enormous.

Deeper Roots

The root causes of the Darfur war are a historically complex set of trends and developments that reach far beyond what some identify as 'tribal conflict'.

Darfur or 'Land of the Fur' has long been shared by many different peoples: farmers, herders, traders and pilgrims. Tensions and conflicts between various groups were not uncommon throughout history, either as an independent sultanate or as an annexed province of Sudan post-1916. But, these conflicts were largely contained or resolved through tribal systems of governance and dispute settlement. This generally stable system came under sustained political and natural pressures roughly 30 years ago, and this combination of factors set the stage for what one analyst has called the worst violence Darfur has seen in over 100 years.

1. Marginalisation: The conflict in Darfur must first be understood in the context of general and long-standing marginalisation and under-development, first by the British and then under successive Khartoum regimes. The Darfur region, along with the other peripheral regions of Sudan, has long suffered from central government (often intentional) policies that left the region as one of the least developed in the country. In 2000, a group of Darfurian government insiders quietly produced a pamphlet that was highly critical of Khartoum's economic and political policies concerning the country's regions (in particular, Darfur) and made the statistical case that economic and political power was dominated by a small group of Nilotic tribes from an area north of Khartoum. The clandestine pamphlet, The Black Book, (or kitab al-aswad) was secretly published and distributed in the capital and the regions. It was an immediate sensation not so much because of its analysis (which was widely understood and accepted throughout the country) but because it had been compiled and distributed at all, thereby tackling a national taboo. Later it became clear that the group of government officials who published The Black Book had gone on to take leadership positions within the JEM.

2. Political manipulation by Khartoum: For many decades after its annexation to Sudan under British and Egyptian rule in 1916, Darfur enjoyed a large measure of semi-autonomous rule. The British abolished the Fur sultanate and established in its place a system of 'native administration' based on existing tribal structures. Each tribal administrator (chosen from chiefs or elders) was responsible for taxation, courts, law and order, etc. This system of 'indirect rule' initially survived Sudan's transition to independence in 1956, but soon found itself the target of new nationalist and socialist forces in Khartoum determined to remove what they saw as an unwanted colonial legacy. The first serious effort to dismantle the native administration system came in 1971, when then President Jaafar Nimeiri passed a law that re-organised local administration by replacing the tribal-based system in favour of regional, district and local councils. Conflicts soon erupted between tribes as the redistribution of administrative power often represented a loss of influence for more established tribes (those with traditional holdings) to those tribes who did not have a traditional claim to a dar or territory. The fact that most of the dar-less tribes were identified as Arab nomadic tribes who would welcome the chance to acquire arable land was not lost on GoS or expansionist Arabist ideologues.

During the tenure of the democratically elected Al-Sadiq al Mahdi (1986-89), an effort was made to restore the system of native administration, but this was reversed by the 1989 National Islamic Front (NIF) coup led by current president Omar al-Bashir. In 1994, the NIF government re-organised Darfur into three states (North, South and West). The new state lines, however, were drawn through the Fur heartland and were seen as a gerrymandering effort to dilute Fur power and influence in the region to the advantage of Arab tribes. A year later, the governor of West Darfur divided that state into 34 emirates, a new administrative unit, which broke up Dar Masalit into 19 emirates, of which 13 went to the Masalit tribe and six to Arab tribes, some of whom were recent immigrants from Chad. As Mona Ayoub noted, this re-organisation served to dilute the traditional authority of the Masalit sultanate and aggravate inter-tribal tensions throughout West Darfur.

In addition to designing the new administrative boundaries as a means to weaken traditional sources of political power and influence of African tribes, the new administrative structures also afforded the GoS an opportunity to appoint new administrators (often 'Arabs') who answered to Khartoum, not the local population or tribal leaders. The net effect was the relatively successful conflict resolution and mediation mechanisms of the native administration system were slowly dismantled or manipulated by Khartoum through the 1990s. Khartoum is now directly inserted into inter-tribal affairs and, because so many of the top officials are identified as being 'Arab', the African tribes consider these changes as profoundly detrimental to their interests. For many African tribes, the final piece of evidence to confirm these suspicions was the politicisation of the Popular Defence Forces (PDF, regular militia) by GoS in 1999 through the appointment of Arabs to top positions within the militia. This action was seen as a further stacking of official resources against African tribes in settling disputes and clashes between tribes.

3. Environmental pressures: The population of Darfur has grown from 1.5 million in 1956 to 6.5 million today. The traditional livelihoods of herding and farming are, under optimum conditions, complementary - in that the herds fertilize farmland and the farmers provide food to the nomads.  However when the land base decreases and water becomes scarce, competition erupts as herds now invade farmland and access to waterholes decreases. With population increase and significant desertification invading arable lands, Darfur faces an ecological crisis. Traditional cyclical droughts and periods of famine aggravate these natural conditions. This dynamic had led to heightened tensions, if not clashes, between the involved tribes in the past, yet most of these disputes were managed by the traditional mechanisms. Today environmental changes have intensified resulting in greater pressure on tribal relations.

Compounding this development, local Arab leaders and the GoS encourage Arab immigration into Darfur from Chad and other parts of Sudan, thus affecting the ethnic and livelihood balance and adding more strain to the limited natural resources. It is clear that the changing demographic balance benefits Arab interests and plays into Khartoum's strategy for political gains. While most analysts do not consider the environmental circumstances to be a central variable in explaining the conflict, it does seem fair to say that the increasing competition over dwindling natural resources has been a contributing factor.

4. Regional politics and proxy wars: Since the late 1970s, Darfur has been caught in the middle of on-going political, ethnic and military manoeuvring among Chad, Sudan and Libya. The trans-border ethnic and tribal reality between Darfur and Chad has always meant that political and economic issues would invariably be felt on both sides of the porous border. But, the rise of Libya's pan-Arab nationalism (which fuelled violent and racist movements like the 'Arab Gathering') and the SPLM/A's apparent threat of moving into Darfur, both in the 1980s, introduced a new and dangerous element into Darfur's political equation: the creation and expansion of Arab tribal militia in Darfur.

GoS reached out to Libya for military support in its conflict with the SPLM/A in the South and Libya was willing to back GoS provided it received some concessions in return. Libyan military assistance was motivated, in part, by a desire to secure access for its troops and proxies to staging grounds in Darfur, from which it could attack, or destabilise, its opponents in neighbouring Chad. Libyan influence and presence in Darfur served to accelerate the polarisation process of tribal identity in the region as it sought to promote its brand of Arab supremacist and expansionist ideology through the arming of Arab-identified tribal militia.  Chad eventually responded to this growing Darfur-based challenge by arming African-identified tribes (primarily the Fur) as a way to counter GoS and Libyan initiatives.

The Libyan role in Darfur diminished in the 1990s, in part, because its Chadian enemy, Hissène Habré, was overthrow in 1990 by a Chadian Zaghawa, Idriss Déby. Déby, who staged his successful campaign from Darfur, was backed by both Libya and GoS and, once in power, he moved to improve N'djamena's relations with Tripoli and Khartoum.

Darfurian response

The combination of environmental pressures, immigration, weakened tribal dispute settlement mechanisms and the dramatic increase in armed tribal militia seriously tested the peaceful co-existence among the various tribes. Serious conflicts along tribal lines were sparked in 1980s and 90s, in particular in 1987-89 and 1995-99. These conflicts, while eventually contained, were not settled definitely, so small-scale inter-tribal clashes continued. As noted above, however, some Darfurian leaders concluded by this time that tribal differences were being exacerbated and manipulated by the central government in Khartoum. Without access to a fair legal process, armed rebellion increasingly appeared to be the only recourse.

Future SLM/A leaders like Abdel Wahid Mohamed al Nur (a Fur) argued that, ultimately, the fight was against the GoS, not other tribes. But, the idea of direct confrontation with the central government was not an immediately popular approach among tribal leaders, in part, because people still remembered the disastrous results of a failed uprising launched in 1991 by a Darfurian named Daud Yahya Bolad, who led a SPLM/A force into Darfur only to be quickly defeated, captured and killed and have his network dismantled. Darfurian leaders, however, learned lessons from this failed effort and resolved to apply them in the next attempt. Chief among these lessons was the need to mobilize the Darfurian tribes (both Arab and non-Arab) and not rely on outside forces to carry the day.

The Civilian Toll

This complicated set of circumstances brought the political situation in Darfur to a boiling point by the turn of the 21st century. In the wake of early failures of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), the central government turned to the PDF and Arab tribal militia to suppress the rebels. This 'counter-insurgency on the cheap' strategy did not crush the rebellion, but it ensured that the price paid by civilians would be horrible. If the civilian population was not unintended 'collateral damage' then it was the deliberate target of the militia, PDF or SAF, usually operating jointly.

In the many cases when villages were deliberately targeted, the scorched-earth tactics (which included indiscriminate killings of civilians, widespread rape, destruction of homes, burning of crops, large-scale theft of animals and the permanent contamination of water wells) strongly suggested a concerted effort to clear non-Arab populations from certain areas. For many African tribes, the message was clear: get out. By the summer of 2004, the United Nations was estimating the total number of displaced people had reached 1.3 million and the International Crisis Group (ICG) reported in May 2004 an estimated death total of 30,000. Both of these figures would increase dramatically over the following years.



The Government of Sudan is referred to by a number of acronyms which reflect various facets of its character. In the Darfur context, it is still common to refer to the central government in Khartoum simply as the GoS. Or, some may refer to it by the political party that has formed the government since the 1989 coup: its initial name, the National Islamic Front (NIF) or its current name, the National Congress Party (NCP). Since the formation of the Government of National Unity (dominated by the NCP with the SPLM as a junior partner) in July 2005 as called for in the CPA, the central government is also referred to as the GNU. But, the formation of the GNU has had a limited impact on the Darfur crisis and many observers hold the view that the NCP element of the new unity government continues to dominate Darfur policy. Hence, in the Darfur context, the central government still is often referred to as the GoS or NCP.

In Darfur, the central government has three operational military tools at its disposal:

  • The Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) are the regular national armed forces that answer to the president of Sudan (commander-in-chief) through the Minister of Defence.
  • The Popular Defence Forces (PDF) were established in late 1989 by the NIF as a counter-balance to the SAF and a vehicle for supporting the NIF's Islamic programmes. The PDF were established by specific legislation and do not fall under the SAF's command structure.
  • The Janjaweed is a militia formed by the NCP to counteract the rebel offensive in Darfur. The Janjaweed are identified as Arab nomads who travel on camels or horses and have been accused of responsibility for many of the atrocities committed against the civilian population in Darfur. An arrest warrant has been issued for Ali Muhammad Ali Abd al-Rahman, also called Ali Kushayb, a Janajaweed leader, by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. Many analysts no longer make distinctions between the PDF and the janjaweed because of Khartoum's efforts to absorb many janjaweed members into the PDF in an effort to legitimise these fighters and claim that Khartoum is taking measures to reduce the janjaweed's numbers.


Sudan Liberation Movement / Army: The roots of the SLM/A lie in the clandestine efforts of a group of educated Darfurian opponents of the NIF regime to mobilize village self-defence committees. These committees were Fur, Zaghawa, and Masalit villagers established in the 1990s to fend off attacks by GoS-supported Arab militias. Renewed efforts were instigated in the late 1990s by Abdel-Wahid Mohammad Ahmad Nur, Ahmad Abdesh-Shafi`, Abdu Abdallah Isma`il, and Babiker Mohammad Abdallah to organize the SLM/A. The Fur was the largest ethnic group but the Zaghawa, traditionally regarded as raiders and warriors, were seen to have an advantage due to their presence on both sides of the Chad--Sudan border, as well as from their influence with the Chadian regime.

Abdul Wahid el-Nur, Fur, and Minni Minawi, Zaghawa, emerged as the two principal leaders of the SLM/A forces; but not without competition between the two, and their respective tribes, for control of the SLM/A. The enmity that developed, and endures, between Abdel-Wahid and Minni Minawi has been the source of personal rivalry on the ground in Darfur, among the Darfur diaspora and among the international community. These problems have significantly complicated the peace process and have influenced the fragmentation of the movement.

Justice and Equality Movement (JEM): The JEM was founded by Dr. Khalil Ibrahim in 2003. On the ground over the first few years, it was smaller and had a lower profile than the SLM/A, it controlled less territory and commanded fewer fighters. However, the JEM showed greater political maturity and built a political structure, including a congress or assembly. JEM has clear roots in Turabi's branch of the NIF, though its leaders now denounce that legacy.  Since the splintering of the SLM/A, which accelerated after the signing of the DPA in 2006, the JEM took on a larger and more aggressive military posture in the field which resulted in it assuming the leading combat role against GoS.  This new status was underscored by JEM's attack on Omdurman in May 2008.

SLA - Minni Minawi: Minni Minawi's faction of the SLA was the only rebel group to sign the DPA, and in this role he was named to the post of 'Senior Assistant to the President of the Republic' of the GNU. Since signing the DPA, Minni has lost much of his support base and he has been accused of committing atrocities , alongside government forces, against Darfur's civilian population.

After a process of fragmentation, which began prior to the signing of the DPA, the SLM/A and the JEM have suffered numerous configurations, fragmentations and rivalries with groups that present themselves as new rebel movements in Darfur. Some observers of the process have stopped acknowledging the multitude of groups laying claim to representing a Darfurian constituency because most of these new groups are viewed as opportunistic organizations. In the post-DPA period, higher-profile rebel groups have included:

1. SLA - Unity: In the months leading up to the Abuja signing of the DPA, 19 SLM/A commanders split with Abdul Wahid over his decision to negotiate separately with the government. This group later became known as the 'Group of Nineteen' or the G-19, and was by the end of 2006 the strongest force in Darfur; allied to JEM and liaising with the first Arab rebel group - the Popular Forces Army. This group proposed a Darfur - Darfur Dialogue during the DPA negotiations. Later as more commanders from other forces joined them the G-19 changed its name to SLA - Unity.

2. SLA - Abdel Wahid: is the section of the SLA still led by Abdul Wahid el-Nur. His refusal to sign the DPA increased Abdul Wahid's popularity for a while, and he still maintains support among sectors of the Fur population and the IDPs, however his social bases have diminished considerably due to his indecisiveness, his distance from the battlefield and from the Fur population. His organization has splintered as he has been challenged by other Fur leaders. He currently is based in Paris.

3. SLA - Abdul Shafi: A former supporter of Abdul Wahid, Ahmed Abdel Shafi, broke from the movement in July 2006. He is a member of the Fur ethnic group and maintains a presence in the North Jebel Mara area. He attended the Juba talks that were aimed at unifying and reconciling the splintered movements ahead of the Sirte talks. This group is sometimes known as the "SLA - Classic."

4. JEM: Still led by Khalil Ibrahim, the JEM has also suffered desertions and re-incorporations. The NMRD (the National Movement for Reform and Development) split from JEM in 2004 but in 2005 entered into talks with the government in El Fasher and laid down its arms, among much speculation that the government had actually orchestrated these manoeuvres hoping to weaken the JEM. The NMRD, also associated with Chad, has re-appeared at different moments. After Abuja JEM, unlike other rebel factions significantly increased its number of fighters. In 2006, JEM was believed to have between 3 - 4,000 men and 100 - 200 vehicles (the number of vehicles held by any group is an indicator of its strength) in West and North Darfur, fighting alongside other non-signatory rebels. More recently JEM seems to be concentrated in West Darfur and along the Chadian border.  Its positions close to the border are, in part, a reflection of the JEM's role in Chadian politics as a key supporter of that country's President Idriss Déby.  Also, the JEM attack on Omdurman in May 2008 was a signal that its strength on the ground has increased over the past two years and that it was prepared to use its military strength in dramatic ways for political and propaganda objectives.  Despite deadly clashes between JEM and the GoS, both parties signed an "Agreement of Good Will and Confidence-Building" on February 17, 2009 in Doha.  The agreement did little to stop the fighting in Darfur and JEM temporarily withdrew from negotiations after Khartoum expelled 13 NGOs in response to the ICC's arrest warrant for President al-Bashir.

5. United Resistance Front (URF): The URF was formed out of five Darfur rebel factions that met in Juba in April 2008, invited by the SPLM/A in order to attempt unification of the SLM/A. Two splinter groups from the SLM/A, one breakaway group from the JEM, the NMRD and the United Revolutionary Forces Front came together as the URF.  This marriage did not last long, however, as reports surfaced in the summer of 2008 that the URF has dissolved into three smaller groups.

Throughout the conflict, the southern SPLM/A has maintained links with the Darfurian rebels through the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in opposition to the NCP. Prior to the signing of the CPA, John Garang had promised to intervene to bring about a peaceful settlement in Darfur. Since the SPLM joined the Government of National Unity, and Garang's subsequent death, however, the SPLM but has been unable to fulfill Garang's promise.  Intermittently over the past two years the SPLM have hosted Darfurian rebels in the South Sudan in order to promote the reintegration of the movement in preparation for renewed peace negotiations.

Peace Process


The start of the current Darfur conflict is widely considered to be the SLM/A attack on Gulu in February, 2003. Hostilities ensued and the first attempt at resolving the armed conflict occurred under the mediation of Idriss Déby, President of Chad with the signing of the Cessation Agreement. Peace negotiations were to begin fifteen days later. In November of the same year the ceasefire was extended and a commitment was made to facilitate delivery of humanitarian assistance, however by December the process had broken down.

Ceasefire Agreement between the Government of Sudan (GoS) and the SLM/A, at Abéché, Chad on 3 September 2003

Project of a Final Agreement on Appendices between the GoS and the SLM/A, Abéché, November 2003

Joint statement by the GoS and SLM/A delegations, Abéché, 4 November 2003

Déby, assisted by the Chairperson of the Commission of the Africa Union, facilitated the signing of another Humanitarian Ceasefire Agreement in April 2004 and the agreement for a ceasefire commission and deployment of observers in May 2004. The African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) began to deploy in June under a mandate to monitor compliance with the signed agreements and to investigate violations of the same. The humanitarian crisis was deemed as extremely serious by the African Union, as well as the on-going violation of human rights and international humanitarian law.

N'djamena Humanitarian Ceasefire Agreement on the Conflict in Darfur between theGoS, the SLM/A and the JEM, N'Djamena, 8 April 2004

Agreement between theGoS, the SLM/A and the JEM, N'Djamena, 25 April 2004

Agreement with the Sudanese Parties on the Modalities for the Establishment of the Ceasefire Commission and the Deployment of Observers in the Darfur, proposal by the African Union, Addis Ababa, 28 May 2004

Meetings in Abuja led to the signing of two further agreements on the security and the humanitarian situation in Darfur, permitting free movement and access for humanitarian workers and assistance, and protection of civilians.

Darfur remained peaceful for about one week after the signing and then violence erupted again reaching a high point when the SLM/A attacked Tawilla, North Darfur and took control of all police posts. The Sudanese army retaliated and drove the SLM/A out. Extensive casualties resulted and both sides denounced the ceasefire. A state of emergency was declared in North Darfur. (S/2004/947)

Protocol on the enhancement of the security situation in Darfur in accordance with the N'Djamena Agreement, between the Government of the Sudan, the SLM/A and the JEM, Abuja, 9 November 2004

Protocol on the improvement of the humanitarian situation in Darfur, between the Government of the Sudan, the SLM/A and the JEM, Abuja, 9 November 2004

In April 2005, the African Union pronounced that compliance with the signed agreements remained insufficient; attacks against civilians persisted and other violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. Also attacks against humanitarian workers and agencies, AMIS personnel and assets, inter-tribal violence, acts of banditry and attacks against commercial convoys all continued. It did welcome, however, the decision by the GoS to remove all Antonov bombers from Darfur. Strong requests were again made to bring AMIS to full operational capability by the end of May 2005. (AU-PSC Communiqué, 28 April, 2005, Addis Ababa). A lack of consistency was strongly evident between the discussions at the negotiating table and what was still happening on the ground. However, by July 2005 another Protocol and the Declaration of Principles had been signed. President Déby had by then ceased to be the mediator of the talks as conflict developed between Chad and Sudan.

Draft Framework Protocol for the Resolution of Conflict in Darfur between the GoS, the SLM/A and the JEM, Abuja, April 2005

Sudan's Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed on Jan. 2005, and during the following 16 months African Union mediators in Abuja tried to broker an agreement between the GoS and the Darfur rebels that would both resolve Darfurian grievances while also buttressing the CPA. Deadlines were imposed on the process in order to facilitate the arrival of UN troops to replace the under-resourced and inexperienced African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur, while international observers pressured for a peace deal. Instead of ceding to the pressures, main factions of the rebel movement (SLA - Abdul Wahid and JEM) refused to sign.

While the document is very brief and vague beyond basic principles for future negotiations, and the other non-signatories refused to participate in the talks, the Doha agreement represents the first sign of political movement since mid-2006.  Less than a month later, the process received a modest boost when five smaller rebel groups pledged to join the process.

Goodwill and confidence-building agreement to resolve Darfur conflict between GoS and JEM, Doha, Qatar, 17 February 2009

This potential significance of this development, however, was over-shadowed by the decision of the ICC to issue an arrest warrant for President Bashir.  GoS reaction to the arrest warrant has been to expel aid workers and increase the rhetoric against the ICC and its supporters.  It is difficult to anticipate the impact of the ICC decision on the Darfur peace process, but it does hold the potential to distract attention and energy from the nascent Doha process for some time.

Negotiations Timeline


  • Ceasefire Agreement between the Government of Sudan and the SLA, Abeche, 3 September 2003
  • Project of a Final Agreement on Appendices between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan Liberation Army, Abeche, November 2003
  • Joint statement by the Government of Sudan and SLA delegations, Abeche, 4 November 2003


  • N'Djamena Humanitarian Ceasefire Agreement on the Conflict in Darfur between the Government of Sudan, the SLM/A and the JEM, N'djamena, 8 April 2004
  • Agreement between the Government of Sudan, the SLA and the JEM, N'Djamena,25 April 2004
  • Agreement with the Sudanese Parties on the Modalities for the Establishment of the Ceasefire Commission and the Deployment of Observers in the Darfur, proposal by the African Union, Addis Ababa, 28 May 2004
  • Protocol on the enhancement of the security situation in Darfur in accordance with the N'Djamena Agreement, between the Government of the Sudan, the SLM/A and the JEM, Abuja, 9 November 2004
  • Protocol on the improvement of the humanitarian situation in Darfur, between the Government of the Sudan, the SLM/A and the JEM, Abuja, 9 November 2004


  • Draft Framework Protocol for the Resolution of Conflict in Darfur between the Government of Sudan, the SLM/A and the JEM, Abuja, April 2005
  • Agreement between the Government of Sudan and NDA (Cairo Agreement) Cairo, 18 June 2005
  • Declaration of Principles for the Resolution of the Sudanese Conflict in Darfur by the Government of Sudan, the SLM/A and the JEM, Abuja, 5 July 2005.


  • Darfur Peace Agreement between the Government of Sudan and the SLM/A, Abuja, 5 May 2006
  • Declaration of Principles for the Resolution of the Conflict in Eastern Sudan between the Government of Sudan and the Eastern Front, Asmara, 19 June 2006
  • Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement between the Government of Sudan and the Eastern Front, Asmara, 14 October 2006

Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA)

Eastern Sudan

Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement

Development priorities An Eastern Sudan Reconstruction and Development Plan is to determine service, infrastructural and other priorities. The ESRDF is to be operational within 90 days of the ESPA (ie mid-January 2007), with US$100m in 2007 and US$125m per annum 2008-11.

Security arrangements A comprehensive and permanent ceasefire comes into force within 72 hours of the signing the ESPA; all militias or other armed groups in Eastern Sudan to be absorbed into the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF). Monitoring is conducted by the High Joint Military Committee, chaired by Eritrean government. Willing and qualified EF combatants are to be incorporated into the SAF for a minimum of 2 years. A Joint Committee for Integration (5 government and 5 EF representatives, chaired by the SAF) are to identify those who are willing and qualified' and ensure adequate training for those who are integrated into SAF and proper support for those who return to civilian life. Prisoners associated with the conflict will be released within a week of the ESPA's signature.

Dialogue A National Conference on Sudan's administration is to be convened by the end of 2007; the government is to implement recommendations. An ESPA Consultative Conference is envisaged; a joint preparatory committee is to be established within a week of the signature.


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