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British and Egypt

Until 1955, Sudan was an Anglo-Egyptian confederation. Northern Sudan is Muslim, while Southern Sudan is Christian/animist. With their policy, the British emphasised the local ethnic and cultural values of the south, thus blocking the spread of Islam to the south. This continued the great contrast between North and South Sudan. In 1953, an Anglo-Egyptian agreement was signed which included the 'Sudanisation' of the police and the civil service and the withdrawal of all British and Egyptian troops.

Independence and civil war

On 19 December 1955, the parliament unanimously proclaimed Sudan an independent republic. Since independence, with an interruption from 1972 to 1983, a civil war has raged between North and South Sudan until the end of 2004.

In 1993, peace negotiations started under the auspices of IGAD1. In 2002, under the leadership of the Kenyan IGAD mediator General Sumbeiywo, negotiations gained momentum. Various partial agreements were concluded, which led to the signing of a Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) on 9 January 2005.

The most important points of this agreement are: (1) that the Sudanese constitution, which is based on Sharia law, will no longer apply to the south; (2) national elections will be held after four years; (3) the south will be given the right of self-determination for a period of six and a half years, after which the South Sudanese can choose by referendum whether to continue the unity of Sudan or to become independent; and (4) the proceeds from oil extraction will be shared.


Implementation of the CPA began in 2005. In July, the new Presidency, consisting of President Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir and Vice-Presidents Dr John Garang and Ali Uthman Mohammed Taha, was appointed. Dr Garang was appointed President of South Sudan and was to form an independent government there, were it not for the fact that on 30 July 2005, his helicopter crashed. Dr John Garang was killed less than three weeks after his appointment. His right-hand man, Salva Kiir Mayardit, succeeded him and was sworn in as Vice-President of Sudan and President of South Sudan on 11 August 2005. Riak Machar was appointed Vice-President. On 10 July 2005, President Al-Bashir lifted by decree the state of emergency that had been in place since 1999, with the exception of North, South and West Darfur, Kassala State and Red Sea State.

On 31 August 2005, the Sudanese Parliament (National Assembly and Council of States) met in its new composition for the first time. The new Government of National Unity (GoNU) was formed on 20 September 2005. President Bashir swore in the last members of the Cabinet of the Government of Sudan on 27 November. 16 ministerial posts (including defence, interior affairs, finance and energy and mining) went to the NCP, 9 to the SPLM and 4 to members of the narrower opposition parties. The Parliament of Southern Sudan was inaugurated on 29 September 2005, the Cabinet was appointed on 24 October 2005 and the Constitution of Southern Sudan was signed on 6 December 2005.

Involvement of the Netherlands

Implementation of the CPA has been steady but slow. The main outstanding issues are: the distribution and control of oil revenues, the Abyei issue, the demarcation of the North-South border line, the formation of army units and the overall functioning of the Government of National Unity. Apart from bilateral contacts, the Netherlands monitors the progress of the CPA through its membership and chairmanship of the Assessment and Evaluation Commission's (AEC) 'Three Areas' Working Group.

At the end of March 2005, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution stipulating that a UN peacekeeping force of 10,700 men (UNMIS) will monitor the peace in South Sudan. On 19 December 2005, the Lower House of Parliament agreed, subject to conditions, to the deployment of 35 Dutch military and police officers as observers for this mission. The Netherlands currently has 14 military observers, 12 police officers and two staff officers active in the mission. On 5 September, the Minister of the Interior agreed to the deployment, from the end of 2006, of up to four civilian police officers as part of the current Dutch contribution to UNMIS.

At the end of May 2006, the Minister for Development Cooperation, Van Ardenne, opened the Joint Donor Office (JDO) in Juba. The Joint Donor Office consists of representatives of the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden and Denmark. In Juba, the five donor countries have chosen to work together with one team, in one office and with one programme. A new way of working together in international cooperation, which fits in with the pursuit of more coordination and harmonisation. With the opening of the first joint donor office in Juba, these five donor countries are really working on more effective aid, as agreed in the Paris Declaration of May 2005. The Netherlands constructed the building and the housing for the seconded experts within the very short time of four months. The team consists of 9 development experts and is responsible for implementing the harmonised development and reconstruction policy of the participating countries with regard to South Sudan. The team will represent the participating donors in the Oversight Committee of the Multi Donor Trust Funds (MDTFs) for the South. In addition, the team will develop and manage projects for priority activities that cannot be funded through the MDTF. The JDO's goal is to achieve sustainable peace, poverty reduction and the Millennium Development Goals for South Sudan.

In the western province of Darfur, armed conflict erupted in early 2003 between government forces and rebel movements, the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). The rebel movements fought for more regional power and against marginalisation of the region. In April 2004, a ceasefire was agreed upon between the warring parties in N'djamena, the capital of Chad. The Government of Sudan promised to restore security in Darfur, disarm the Arab militia (the Janjaweed) and allow the African Union (AU) to monitor the situation on the ground. The UN Security Council laid down these agreements in Resolution 1556 in July 2004. Former minister Jan Pronk was appointed special representative of Secretary-General Kofi Annan in Sudan. Pronk reported monthly to the SGVN. After signing the agreement in N' djamena, the parties continued the peace negotiations under the auspices of the African Union in Abuja, Nigeria. On 5 May 2006, the peace agreement was signed in Abuja by the Sudanese government and the SLM (Sudan Liberation Movement) faction led by Minni Minawi. Abdul Wahid's SLM faction and the JEM did not sign the agreement. In addition to provisions on security and power-sharing, the DPA also contains agreements on wealth-sharing and reconstruction. As agreed in the DPA, SLM leader Minawi has been sworn in as presidential advisor.

The international community has made several attempts to convince the non-signatories to sign the DPA as well. So far, however, the two main rebel movements, the Wahid faction of the SLM and the JEM, have stubbornly refused to sign. As a result of internal disagreements, the Wahid faction has subsequently splintered into a number of small factions. Together, these anti-DPA groups form the National Redemption Front (NRF). The NRF has carried out various military operations both inside and outside Darfur.

The Netherlands, as chairman of the Core Coordinating Group (CCG), is heavily involved in the reconstruction process in Darfur. This Core Group supervises the process of mapping needs in Darfur (Darfur-Joint Assessment Mission-(D-JAM). In addition to signatories to the DPA (the Government of Sudan and the Minawi faction of the SLM), the CCG also includes the African Union, the United Nations, the World Bank and a number of donors. However, the poor security situation has seriously slowed down the progress of the reconstruction process. The D-JAMs, for example, could hardly take place because the research teams could only work in the cities. Without an adequate assessment of Darfur's needs and without concrete prospects of stabilising the security situation, the prospect of a credible reconstruction plan and successful reconstruction is slim. The CCG therefore decided to postpone the D-JAM and the donor conference, originally planned for October 2006 in the Netherlands.

UN involvement

On 31 August of this year, following intensive lobbying by the United States and the United Kingdom, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1706, which lays down the transition of the African Union Peacekeeping Force (AMIS) to a UN mission, including a timetable (deadline 31 December 2006). This UN mission would have a robust and comprehensive mandate and would consist of approximately 22,000 mainly African and Asian troops. Although the resolution was adopted without any votes against (China, Russia and Qatar abstained), several members of the Security Council made it clear that Sudan's consent was required before any actual deployment could take place. However, President Bashir has not yet agreed to the resolution. The security situation in Darfur is largely determined by the ability of AMIS to fulfil its mandate, the intentions of the Sudanese Government regarding the implementation of the Government Plan on Darfur and the discussion on the transition from AMIS to a UN mission.

On 22 October, the Sudanese government declared the UN Special Representative, Jan Pronk, persona non grata in response to statements on his weblog. Pronk subsequently left the country on 23 October for consultations with UN Secretary-General Annan. After attempts by the international community to make the Sudanese government change its mind, it did not succeed in stopping Pronk's deportation.

On 30 November, the African Union took a decision to extend the AU mission in Darfur by six months. The African Heads of State endorsed the proposal to increase UN support to AMIS in three phases: light support variant, heavy support variant, AU/UN hybrid mission deployment. After initially agreeing to this UN support, Sudan remains unhelpful to the second and third phases. The international community continues to put pressure on the Sudanese government to agree to a hybrid AU/UN mission. In April 2007, Sudan agreed to a modest UN mission, not the intended 20,000 men. In 2008, tensions surrounding the Darfur conflict continued to rise. In July 2008, an arrest warrant was issued for President al-Bashir by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. It was the first time that a sitting president of a country had received a warrant. Sudan is refusing to cooperate.

The deteriorating security situation is having a negative impact on the humanitarian situation in Darfur. To date, it is estimated that 250 000 people have lost their lives, while some 2.5 million have fled the country. They are being accommodated in refugee camps in Darfur and neighbouring Chad. The international humanitarian effort is severely hampered by the ongoing fighting. Despite the presence of AMIS, the security situation has not improved. Fighting is continuous, villages are being looted, residents driven away and women raped. A number of aid workers have been killed in attacks, causing some humanitarian organisations to withdraw from the area.

The international community continues to put pressure on the parties to the conflict to stop fighting and find a political solution.

On 14 October 2008, after four months of negotiations, the Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement (ESPA) was concluded between the Sudanese government (GoNU) and the Eastern Front (EF). Part of the agreement is a fairer distribution of wealth. Although gold and diamonds are mined in the east, the area has been ignored for years. However, the agreement states that over the next five years, EUR 478 million will be allocated to water and health facilities there. Furthermore, the state of emergency is lifted and the EF is given a post in the government.

In March 2009, the International Court issued a warrant for the arrest of President Omar al-Bashir for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur. In July 2009, the parties of North and South Sudan accept that the court in The Hague grants the North control over the oil-rich Abyei region. In January 2010, al-Bashir said he would respect the outcome of a referendum on the independence of the South, even if the outcome was independence. In April 2010, al-Bashir won the presidential election. In July 2010, the International Court issued a second arrest warrant for al-Bashir, this time for genocide. A referendum was held in Southern Sudan in January 2010 to discuss secession. The population overwhelmingly voted for independence.

Split off South Sudan

In July 2011, South Sudan officially secedes and becomes an independent country. In 2012 and 2013, there is great unrest between the two Sudanese. Non-aggression pacts are made but at the same time there are border fights. In December 2013, Omar al-Bashir makes several changes in his government. Among others, Vice President Ali Osman a long-time loyalist of the President has to step down. In April 2015, al-Bashir was re-elected for another five-year term. In October 2017, the United States partially lifted the sanctions. In January 2018, there were mass protests against the rise in bread prices because the government had removed the subsidy.

Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan is sworn in as chairman of Sudan's ruling Transitional Military Council on 12 April 2019, a day after the military overthrew the regime of President Omar al-Bashir. This followed months of street protests against President Bashir's authoritarian rule. The African Union and Ethiopia negotiated a power-sharing agreement that allowed for the formation of a joint civil-military government. The army deposed the civilian ministers in a coup in October 2021, but reinstated Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok after a month of protests. Most civilian parties refused to support the new power-sharing agreement.


Elmar Landeninformatie

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated May 2024
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