In 2005 a Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed between the Southern Sudan Liberation Army (SPLA) and the Republic of Sudan. The CPA was aimed at giving a large degree of autonomy to Southern Sudan and bringing a 22 year-old war to an end. The CPA also included a deal to give the southern territory 50 per cent of its oil revenues. Southern Sudan has recently expressed its misgivings over the oil agreement.
In a recent interview with The Reporter, an Ethiopian newspaper, Aerop Akul mission head in Addis Ababa of Regional Co-operation Ministry of the Government of Southern Sudan said the CPA has provided hope for the people of Southern Sudan. According to him, this is the first time Southern Sudanese have their own government to enable them express their feelings. It has also contributed to the massive return of residents displaced during the long wars.
Southern Sudan, like Ethiopia– east of its border,– is a predominantly Christian region. Northern Sudan is predominantly Arab and Muslim. Referred to as the second Sudanese civil war, the 22 year-old war (1983-2005) preceded a first Sudanese war (1955-1972), which also lasted almost two decades. The Southern region is known to produce over 80 per cent of all Sudanese oil, which contributes to about 70 per cent of the totality of Sudanese exports.
Though the two sides (North and South) agreed under the CPA to equally share resources from Southern Sudan, the lack of probity and accountability has led his government to doubt the clause pertaining to the agreement to share. “It is hard to know exactly how much has been exported from Southern Sudan. We just receive what the government of National Unity delivers as a 50 percent share. But 50 percent of what? We don’t know” Aerop said.
The Southern Sudan Administration argues that statistics from net productions have prompted them to doubt the veracity of a 50 percent share. Mr. Aerop Akul further indicated that their doubts are also strengthened by the fact that the National Petroleum Commission has been virtually paralyzed by the government of National Unity. During the oil price hikes Southern Sudan got as much as US$147 million per month. However, after price drop, Southern Sudan claims that it gets no more than a US$30 million monthly allocation from government of National Unity.
Under the CPA, both sides had agreed to eventually unite, however, this appears an impossibility given that a referendum scheduled to take place in 2011 will give southerners a rare opportunity to vote for full independence. According to estimates, over 90 per cent of the Southern Sudan populations want a complete break from their northern counterparts.
The conflict between Southern Sudan Liberation Army (SPLA) and the republic of Sudan (Northern Sudan) was Africa’s longest running civil war. More than 2 million people have died and over than 4 million have been internally displaced or become refugees as a result of the war.
The South and North divide has often been defined as a religious (Islam and Christianity) conflict. According to Southern Sudan it is simply a question of basic human rights, not religious.