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Sudan: Peace Negotiations

Volume 497: debated on Thursday 22 October 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the UK’s commitment to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Sudan is; and what personnel the UK has trusted in support of this commitment. (292432)

The UK believes the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) is the foundation of future peace and stability in Sudan. The UK was one of the witnesses to the signing of the CPA in 2005 and we are committed to its full implementation, including the referendum on self-determination for South Sudan in January 2011.

Ministers are closely engaged in leading the UK’s efforts in Sudan. My hon. Friend the Minister of State, Department for International Development visited Sudan earlier this month and will be meeting with both parties in North and South Sudan to urge them to accelerate implementation of the CPA.

The UK has a strong Government team working on Sudan, led by the UK Special Representative for Sudan, together with our ambassador in Khartoum. We also fund Sir Derek Plumbly as Chairman of the Assessment and Evaluation Commission (AEC), the organisation in Sudan charged with monitoring implementation of the CPA.

DFID has a major programme of development assistance to Sudan, with a budget of £115 million for 2009-10, and we provide significant support to both UN missions in Sudan, including deployment of UK military officers.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent steps his Department has taken on the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Sudan in its role as a co-signatory to the Agreement. (294538)

The UK believes the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) is the foundation of future peace and stability in Sudan and was one of the witnesses to the signing of the CPA in 2005. We are committed to its full implementation, including the referendum on self-determination for South Sudan in January 2011.

The UK has been working closely with partners, including the US and its Special Envoy to Sudan, General Gration, to urge both the National Congress Party and the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement to make urgent progress on the outstanding CPA milestones.

My hon. Friend the Minister of State for International Development visited Sudan earlier this month and urged both parties in north and south to ensure that the remaining issues are resolved, including preparations for the elections next year and referendum in 2011. He also underlined the importance that the UK attaches to free and fair elections.

The UK has worked actively to ensure that the decision by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in July over the boundary of the Abyei area is accepted by both parties. Implementation of the decision is now progressing slowly and we continue to urge timely and peaceful progress. We are concerned that the broader north-south border demarcation process is stalled and have pressed both parties to resolve the remaining areas of contention.

The UK is also working to ensure that critical post-referendum issues, such as wealth-sharing and citizenship rights, are addressed by both parties. These need to be agreed by north and south in advance of the referendum, whatever its outcome, to help ensure that the decision is peaceful. We are supporting work through Chatham House in this area.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his policy is on measures to strengthen the Assessment and Evaluation Committee on the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Sudan; and if he will make a statement. (294669)

The UK strongly supports the Assessment and Evaluation Commission (AEC) in Sudan and the work it undertakes to monitor implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).

We secured the appointment of Sir Derek Plumbly, a retired UK diplomat, as Chair of the AEC in March 2008 and Sir Derek has worked actively to strengthen the role of the AEC. My hon. Friend the Minister of State for International Development met with Sir Derek during his visit to Sudan last week.

The AEC has been active and instrumental in delivering progress on the CPA: senior representatives from both the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement and the National Congress Party sit on the AEC, with a number of members and observers drawn from the witnesses to the Agreement, and this has provided a forum for open dialogue on the various CPA issues. There are a number of AEC Working Groups that address the various issues, including Power Sharing, Wealth Sharing, Security and the Three Areas.

The UK is active in both the AEC plenary meetings and all of its working groups. We continue to work to support the AEC and ensure that it continues to play a central role in implementation of the CPA.