Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon used today`s fifth anniversary of the peace pact that ended more than 20 years of civil war in Sudan to urge the parties to redouble their efforts towards reconciliation and the successful completion of remaining benchmarks.
The 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), signed by the Sudanese People`s Liberation Army (SPLA) separatists in the south and the national Government in the north, brought an end to one of Africa`s bloodiest civil wars, in which at least 2 million people were killed, 4 million others uprooted and 600,000 more fled across the country`s borders.
During the past five years, considerable progress has been made in the implementation of the CPA and the strengthening of the relationship between the two parties to the agreement, " Mr. Ban noted in a statement issued by his spokesperson.
However, the final year of the CPA will be an extremely challenging one, especially as the parties prepare for elections and the exercise of the right of self-determination for Southern Sudan, " he added.
He went on to state that these challenges require the parties urgently to establish the necessary legal, political and institutional framework for the conduct of free, fair and credible elections, referenda and popular consultations. It is also important that they engage now in substantive discussions on post-referendum arrangements, regardless of the outcome of the referendum.
More fundamentally, the parties must work towards reconciliation, " the statement added.
The people of Sudan have witnessed the horrible consequences of war and have waited more than 20 years for the benefits of peace. If the CPA is to deliver this peace, it will require a substantially increased commitment by the parties, with the support of the international community. "
In a report issued last October, Mr. Ban stated that the key to implementing the CPA is the relationship between its signatories. The Agreement must be implemented in spirit as well as the letter if the immense work undertaken is to be sustainable, " he stressed, calling on the sides to boost their cooperation.
Today`s statement declared that support for the successful implementation of the CPA is one of the UN`s top priorities for this year, and that the world body will work closely with all actors to help the parties meet the final benchmarks of the peace agreement.
The 10,000-strong UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) has been in place since 2005 to help the parties implement the accord.