During the colonial period, Sudan was governed by a joint Anglo-Egyptian administration as two separate regions: Southern Sudan and Northern Sudan. Upon independence in 1956, these regions were merged as the unified state of Sudan under a predominantly northern government. The country quickly fell into a long civil war mostly centred in the south. Although the First Civil War ended in 1972, another conflict erupted just over a decade later. The Second Civil War was fought between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), and although it again concerned power and control over the south, the conflict spread into northern regions such as Blue Nile and Kordofan. Peace talks held some promise of ending the conflict in the late 1980s, but the 1989 coup d’état which brought Omar al-Bashir to power ended this process.1 Beginning in 1991, the SPLM began splintering, adding further layers of complexity to the conflict. Several efforts were made to end the war, with the Organisation of African Unity and the governments of Egypt, Libya, and the US all trying to forge a pathway to peace without success. This changed in 2002, when five weeks of talks held in Kenya under the auspices of IGAD resulted in the Machakos Protocol, in which the belligerents signed off on a mutually acceptable framework for further negotiations to take place and agreed, in principle, that a peaceful resolution of the war was desirable.2
Negotiations held in 2003 resulted in an agreement on security arrangements, such as an internationally monitored ceasefire that would come into force upon signing a future comprehensive peace agreement.3 Progress increased in 2004, with further accords on sharing wealth and power and ending the conflicts in South Kordofan and around Abyei being approved. However, the war continued. This led the UN Security Council to hold a special session in November 2004, during which the delegates agreed to impose a deadline of the end of 2004 for a conclusive peace agreement.4 The belligerents just met this deadline, agreeing to a permanent ceasefire and the terms of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement on 31 December, before formally signing the accord in Nairobi on 9 January 2005.5 This lengthy document established intricate mechanisms for sharing power and oil revenue and promised six years of autonomy for the south prior to a binding referendum on independence. Although many conflicts continued in Sudan, the 2005 agreement ended the 50-year confrontation between north and south.