IS Academy lecture: Sudan's Recent Elections and the Upcoming Referendum in the South

Seminar date: 
26 May 2010

Place: Perszaal, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Hague. Please bring identification.

Speaker(s): Einas Ahmed, political sciences researcher at the Centre d’Etudes et de Documentation Economiques, Juridiques et Sociales (CEDEJ), Khartoum, Sudan and Norbert Braakhuis, the Netherlands' ambassador in Sudan

Language: English
Registration: 21 May at the latest at: 

Registration is obligatory. If you have registered but are unable to attend please inform us as soon as possible.

Einas Ahmed:
Elections unlike any others: The First Post-Peace Agreement Elections in Sudan

There is great interest in the first post-conflict elections in Sudan due to concern over their effectiveness as a mechanism for power-sharing and conflict resolution, particularly given their potential to trigger violence in a context of fragile peace after the peace accords. The 2010 elections were the first major benchmark of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between the government of Sudan represented by the ruling party, the National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan Popular Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) putting an end to a civil conflict that lasted more than two decades. The CPA is a peace deal which includes power- and wealth-sharing arrangements and stipulates the organization of elections to ensure the transition towards political pluralism. These were demands of the SPLM/A that had fought the war mainly for equal access to power and wealth as well as for a democratic "New Sudan". The singularity of the peace deal and particularly the elections is that the CPA also provides the right to self-determination for the Southern Sudanese. After a transitional period, in 2011 the Southern Sudanese will have the right to opt either for secession or to remain in a united Sudan. This provision makes elections and the whole process of transition rather uncertain as elections are supposed to take place during the transitional period and before the referendum for Southern Sudan. The paper looks at the major challenges for holding credible elections in post-conflict Sudan and within a particular formula of a power- sharing agreement and the ongoing peace negotiations in Darfur. The focus will be on the political challenges that impede the electoral process, the role of elections in the overall transition process towards political pluralism, the political dimensions of the technical preparations for elections and the ambiguous role of the international community.

Norbert Braakhuis:
Sudan's possible divorce dilemma: the upcoming 2011 referenda on secession

Although elections in Sudan have not resulted in large scale democratization, they have given strong indications about flaws that need to be addressed to give credibility to the results of the two upcoming referenda on secession of the South and to avoid mistakes that might lead to acrimonious debate or violence between North and South. The two major political parties, the NCP and the SPLM are not necessarily in agreement over these issues. There is little doubt that the South will secede, but the questions are: with what gains and losses? with or without violence? and what will be give up with separation? For the NCP, retaining power and keeping its model of Sudan alive is of overriding importance. But can the political party survive if it loses the South which it was supposed to keep for the sake of national unity and for the natural resources it needs to keep the economy afloat? Throughout the Northern opposition, within the armed forces and partly within the ruling party itself, separation is inconceivable. For the vast majority in the South, gaining independence is key, even at the price of losing territory or wealth. Between North and South are three territories where armed conflict might return if their future status is not properly settled. Each party involved is confronted with contradictory choices, trying to contain the other side, moving to get the advantage over the other, and delaying decisions with the knowledge that only the endgame really matters. The paper will outline different scenarios about the 2011 referenda on secession of South Sudan and assess the chances for a peaceful separation.