Sudan between Peril and Hope

ALGIERS – The future of Sudan hangs in the balance. National elections are due in April. A referendum on the future status of the south of the country is supposed to follow in 2011. Both were key ingredients of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which ended 20 years of civil war between north and south.

Both polls hold real promise. But they also are in real doubt. Sudan’s political leaders are backtracking on the commitments under the peace agreement. Cooperation and consensus are hard to find. The terrible tragedy of the country’s western Darfur region continues unabated.

It was the support of the international community that helped bring Sudanese parties together in 2005. Many key countries in Africa and the West guaranteed the agreement. Sudan urgently needs the same efforts now.

With the right international support, Sudan could move decisively towards peace and democracy in the coming months. If the international community fails the challenge, conflicts and tensions that have already cost hundreds of thousands of lives will continue and worsen. We dare not let this happen.