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Sudan: Politics and Government

Volume 503: debated on Thursday 7 January 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what initiatives on Sudan the Government has put forward under the recently re-established troika mechanism; and if he will make a statement. (308000)

We are in regular contact with key partners on all of the issues that face Sudan. This includes contact with both the US and Norway, who together with the UK constituted the Troika during the negotiations for the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). Our ongoing and close contact with the US and Norway forms a part of the UK's continued engagement with key partners on the situation in Sudan.

The parties to the CPA will need to decide between themselves on the initiatives and mechanisms that will support their efforts to arrive at a peaceful conclusion to the Interim Period. International partners should be prepared to play a strongly supportive role.

My noble Friend Baroness Kinnock will give a further assessment of developments in Sudan during a debate in the Lords today, 7 January 2010.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment has been made of the implementation of the border ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration for the area of Abyei in Sudan in July 2009; and if he will make a statement. (308003)

The implementation of the Abyei ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration made in July 2009 is a key part of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). We are concerned that, despite public commitment by both the National Congress Party and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement to implement the ruling, progress remains significantly behind schedule. We understand that only a small number of border markers along the 230 kilometre border have been placed. Continuing uncertainty over the border increases potential tensions and hinders implementation of other CPA milestones.

We continue to press both parties to ensure that border demarcation, as well as other commitments on Abyei, are urgently completed. A representative of our embassy in Khartoum visited Abyei in early December 2009 as part of a joint delegation with the US embassy and the Assessment and Evaluation Commission. The delegation raised our concerns directly with Government and other interlocutors.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the political situation in Sudan consequent on the North-South agreement on progress towards the forthcoming referendum; and if he will make a statement. (308064)

The Secretary of State for the Department of International Development (Mr. Thomas) and my noble Friend Baroness Kinnock released a statement on 15 December 2009 welcoming the progress made towards the forthcoming referendum following the agreement on 13 December 2009 at the level of the presidency on the draft Bill.

We welcome the news that, despite last minute difficulties, on 29 December 2009 this Bill was agreed by consensus in the National Assembly in Sudan.

We also welcome the news that the legislation regarding the referendum for Abyei and the popular consultations for Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile States was passed by the National Assembly on 30 December 2009.

We continue to urge the parties to work together at this critical point in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement to make progress on other outstanding areas and to help deliver a peaceful, equitable future for the whole of Sudan.