Progress slow but steady in implementing northsouth peace pact in Sudan –

Addressing the Security Council, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Edmond Mulet said that the “status of CPA implementation remains a mixed picture of slow but continuing progress and a number of major outstanding challenges.”He reported that no major ceasefire violations have occurred in the reporting period, with the overall security situation calm in Southern Sudan and transitional areas, including Abyei, which lies in an oil-rich area near the north-south boundary.“The parties have a common interest in keeping the CPA on track, as neither can afford to return to armed conflict,” Mr. Mulet said at the open meeting, adding that the sides cooperate on many issues and interact daily in government and security institutions.“Nevertheless, they continue to postpone and delay the implementation of the more difficult aspects of the CPA.”Polls are one of the pact’s benchmarks, and in spite of the passing of an electoral law this July, few positive steps have been made in other areas, such as the formation of bodies to register political parties.In a visit to the vast country last month, Alain Le Roy, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, met with Southern Sudanese officials in Juba, who acknowledged that it is necessary to set a date for elections with the National Congress Party.Meanwhile, the NCP said that it expects the polls to take place before the July 2009 deadline.“However, this target date falls in the middle of the rainy season, during which the preparation and holding of elections would be near impossible,” Mr. Mulet said.Large numbers of internally displaced persons (IDPs) have been returning to their homes, and the humanitarian focus is now shifting to recovery and development.“At the same time, however, there is an urgent need to focus on the issues that will enable the parties to reach the referendum and ensure stability post-2011,” he stressed, referring to the exercise of the people of Abyei and Southern Sudan of their right of self-determination to vote for unity or separation.The official underscored the importance of international assistance, especially in the fields of disarming, demobilizing and reintegrating parties, as well as human rights. 5 November 2008Progress is being made in putting into place the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended the long-running north-south civil war in Sudan, but obstacles such as the holding of elections remain, a senior United Nations official said today.

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