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Carter Center


12 October 2011

The Carter Center calls on all stakeholders to work for a sustainable solution to the conflicts in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states. The popular consultations could facilitate a long- term settlement in both states if implemented in a credible way. However, this requires a security environment conducive to open dialogue and the inclusion of all stakeholders in the process.

The popular consultation process in Blue Nile stalled following the formal extension of the timeline by the National Assembly on July 20, 2011, and has de facto been suspended since the breakout of hostilities between the Government of Sudan (GoS) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) on Sept. 1. A state of emergency has subsequently been declared in the state with governor Malik Aggar being removed and replaced by a temporary caretaker. Furthermore, SPLM-N has been banned as a political party. The GoS and the chairman of the Blue Nile Parliamentary Commission for Popular Consultations have recently stated that the process will now continue to complete its remaining steps. This includes additional hearings and the final report writing. However, it will be difficult to conduct an inclusive process that meets its goals given the challenges of the current security environment, displacement of portions of the population of the state, and inability of all political parties to participate equally.

In Southern Kordofan, a parliamentary commission for the popular consultation has not yet been established and the process has not yet begun. This is the result of the postponement of the state legislative elections from April 2010 until May 2011 and the subsequent outbreak of hostilities between GoS and SPLM-N.

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) protocol on the resolution of the conflicts in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile stipulates that the popular consultations are the democratic right of the people of the two states. The basic principle of the popular consultations as articulated in the CPA and the Popular Consultation Act is the right of popular expression, which is to serve as the basis for a solution to the conflicts in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile. The Carter Center urges stakeholders on the national and state levels to recommit to this principle.

A main point of contention in the popular consultations process is the modalities for mediation between the states and the central government. The Popular Consultation Act calls for the Council of States to be the main mediator between the state legislative assemblies and the GoS in the event that changes to the CPA are deemed necessary.3 However, the secession of the 10 states in South Sudan has changed the composition of the council. The nature of the GoS presidency has also significantly changed following the end of the interim period. The Carter Center encourages the signatories of the CPA to work for a resolution to the differences and engage in peaceful discussions about a final settlement for Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states.

With fighting ongoing in both Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan, the environment is not conducive to the implementation of citizen or additional hearings. Furthermore, with both major stakeholders – GoS and SPLM-N – engaged in fighting, and one party banned from participation in the popular consultations process, discussions on key themes are not practical. The issue of security arrangements continues to have primary importance and should therefore be a focus. Without SPLM-N present in discussions this is impossible. Only a peaceful and politically-reached agreement would allow for the genuine implementation of the popular consultations. The Carter Center therefore calls for the adversaries to urgently reach a negotiated settlement to the current hostilities.

Background on the Carter Center Mission

The Carter Center’s Democracy Program has been present in Sudan since February 2008. This mission observed the April 2010 general and presidential elections, the Southern Sudan referendum in January 2011, and the South Kordofan legislative and gubernatorial elections in May 2011. The Center was invited by the Blue Nile Popular Consultation Commission to observe the process in the state and has deployed long-term observers in Blue Nile since October 2010 and maintained a team of analysts in Khartoum. The Center released a report on March 21 covering the January to February citizen hearings, and subsequent statements were published on July 15 and August 26. The statements are available at http://cartercenter.org/news/publications/election_reports.html#sudan.

The Center’s observation mission is conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation and Code of Conduct that was adopted at the United Nations in 2005 and has been endorsed by 37 election observation groups. The Center assesses the process against the CPA, the Popular Consultation Act of 2010, and other international legal instruments to which Sudan has acceded.
The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide. A not- for-profit, nongovernmental organization, the Center has helped improve life for people in more than 70 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; improving mental health care; and teaching farmers to increase crop production. The Carter Center began working in Sudan in 1986 on the Sasakawa- Global 2000 agricultural project, and for more than 20 years, its health and peace programs have focused on improving health and preventing and resolving conflicts in Sudan. Please visit www.cartercenter.org to learn more about The Carter Center.


Khartoum, Niklas Kabel +249 909 631 620

Atlanta, Deborah Hakes +1 404 420 5124

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