Sudan has vast oil and mineral resources and fertile agro-pastoral land (GALLO/GETTY)
On January 9, Sudan celebrates the third anniversary of the signing of the Naivasha comprehensive peace agreement which ended Africa's longest armed conflict.
The agreement is considered historic not only for ending the 22-year-long conflict, which killed some two million people and displaced millions, but also for introducing the promise of concrete socio-political solutions for the north-south rift.
The agreements and protocols which make up the deal were intended to address the root causes of Sudan's civil war: contentious issues of race, culture, religion, identity, power, and control of natural resources, in particular, oil.
Several chapters of the protocols focused on reversing the bitterness felt by the animist and Christian people of South Sudan who felt they were unfairly treated under Sharia Law, implemented since 1983.
One chapter stipulates that the national government must take into account "the religious and cultural diversity of the Sudanese people" when passing laws.
The protocols recognise that "Sudan is a multi-cultural, multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-religious, and multi-lingual country … religion shall not be used as a divisive factor."
In this regard, the protocol provides for two separate systems of law in the country - Sharia and custom or traditional laws.
Most importantly, the protocol states all Sudanese may exercise freedom of belief, worship and conscience for followers of all religions or beliefs or customs and no one shall be discriminated against on such grounds.
Officially known as the "Comprehensive peace agreement between the Government of the Republic of the Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement / Sudan People's Liberation Army", is composed of six separate agreements and protocols :
The Machacos Protocol, signed in Kenya, July 20, 2002.
Agreement on security Arrangements during the Interim Period, Naivasha, Kenya, September 25, 2003.
Protocol between the government of Sudan and the SPLM on Power Sharing, Naivasha, Kenya, May 26, 2004.
Agreement on Wealth Sharing during the Pre-Interim and Interim Period, Naivasha Kenya, January 7, 2005.
Protocol between the government of Sudan and the SPLM on the Resolution of the Abyei conflict, May 26, 2004.
Protocol between the government of Sudan and the SPLM on the Resolution of Conflict in Southern Kordofan / Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile States, Naivasha, Kenya, May 26, 2004.
The Machacos protocol is the most important political document of the peace agreement because it provides for a six-year interim period for implementing the various protocols.
During this period, an independent Assessment and Evaluation Commission comprised of equal representation from Khartoum and the SPLA/M, will monitor and evaluate the efficacy of the agreement and 'sell' the idea of a united Sudan.
The commission also includes representatives from Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Italy, Norway, the UK, the US,along with any other countries or regional and international bodies to be agreed upon by the parties.
Once the interim period expires, both the Sudanese government and the SLPM/A will organise an internationally-monitored referendum on whether the people of the south wish to remain within a unified state or opt for secession.
But in the three years since, south Sudanese leaders have complained that the central government in Khartoum had stalled in implementing many tenets of the deal.
Despite being packaged as a comprehensive resolution to all disputes between the north and south, the agreement has also been greeted with sceptisism by many who accuse the government of lacking transparency and concealing the true design of the treaty.
They accuse the government of failing to sufficiently move on political representation and the assigning of public office to minorities. Khartoum, they say is failing to adequately uphold parts of the agreement which state that "Eligibility for public office, including the presidency, public service and the enjoyment of all rights and duties shall be based on citizenship and not on religion, beliefs or customs.
In short, some Sudanese people in north Sudan believe that instead of offering a balanced and fair deal, the Naivasha peace agreement was lopsided and has involved winners on one side and losers on the other.
Sharing the wealth
Sudan sits on a vast oil reserve, mostly localised to the south, and is abundant in mineral wealth and agro-pastoral land.
These largely untapped resources have proven to be points of contention between the northern government and the South Sudanese.
In the Agreement on Wealth Sharing, the parties agreed to establish an independent National Petroleum Commission which reaches decisions "by consensus".
The most pivotal issue - sharing oil revenue - "should balance the needs for national development and reconstruction of Southern Sudan", the protocols stated.
The agreement also stipulated: "After the payment to the Oil Revenue Stabilization Account and to the oil producing states / regions, 50 per cent of net oil revenue derived from oil producing wells in Southern Sudan shall be allocated to the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) as of the beginning of the Pre-Interim Period and the remaining 50 per cent to the National Government and States in Northern Sudan".
Though the peace agreement has achieved some success, such as partial redeployment of the Sudanese Army out of the southern regions and the creation of two regional governments, critical chapters have yet to be implemented.
The peace process has thus far failed to achieve social and political inclusivity, incorporating other political parties and civil society. The security laws had to be brought in line with the constitution. The disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of the combatants have yet to reach full potential.
UN agencies in Sudan have reported that the return of displaced persons and refugees had started, but the country continues to lack vital resources and infrastructure. This is compounded by the the limited capacity of the south Sudan government to use aid money.
The rehabilitation and development of south Sudan’s agriculture, economy, towns and villages did not materialise as development institutions and infrastructure in that region were still lacking. Most importantly, funding commitments pledged by donor countries and the Sudan central government have yet to be fully met.