At the Karen talks the SPLM/A raised a number of core grievances giving rise to conflict: political marginalisation; a centralised, minority-dominated and non-democratic government; the nationalisation of customary land and its leasing to a few, mostly external investors; discrimination and racism; a lack of religious and cultural freedom; an agenda of Islamisation and Arabisation including the imposition of shari'a law and an education system designed to promote this agenda; and underdevelopment and inequality. The GoS delegation raised a lack of development and greed as causes of the war. The peace talks attempted to find just and lasting solutions to these issues.
In the end, the lack of progress by the two parties in negotiating an Abyei agreement resulted in an internationally-drafted agreement that both parties accepted. The Protocol on the Resolution of the Conflict in Abyei Area (May 2004) is very strong in its protection of the rights of the people of Abyei and its provision of financial support for recovery. It also provides guaranteed grazing in Abyei to the Misseriyya and other nomadic groups. The relatively small population (around 250-300,000) becomes the direct responsibility of the Presidency and is granted citizenship and representation in state legislature on both sides of the border. The agreement also makes provision for shares in the oil revenues along ethnic and administrative lines: the Ngok and the Misseriyya people each receive 2 per cent of oil revenues, as does the state of Southern Kordofan, former Western Kordofan and the region of Bahr al-Ghazal (of which half is for the state of Warap). The three areas, including Abyei, are also expected to receive their own share of national wealth, and manage locally-raised revenues as if they were states, and the area administrators are given 'special accounts' for making withdrawals.
The people of Abyei have also been guaranteed a referendum simultaneous with that of southern Sudan. They will vote on whether Abyei should retain its special administrative status in the north or be part of Bahr al-Ghazal (now Warap State) in the south. If the south votes for independence and Abyei votes to join Warap State (or the region of Bahr al-Ghazal) then it will be part of the autonomous southern government. For many in Abyei the main grievance is that there has never been the fair referendum on whether to join the south or remain in the north to which they feel they are historically entitled – neither after independence in 1956 nor again after the 1972 Addis Ababa Agreement. This is the crux of the Abyei chapter in the CPA. The two most important commissions for ensuring a fair referendum are the Abyei Boundaries Commission (ABC) to determine the boundaries of Abyei and the Abyei Referendum Commission to finalise the criteria for residency. Beyond providing Abyei a guarantee of a referendum and allocating it some resources (which it may have received anyway through the states of Southern Kordofan and Warap), the agreement does little to address other core grievances directly, and the people of Abyei hope instead that these grievances will be addressed by an appointed, and later elected, government for the area.
Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile States
At the very end of the talks and in the final hours of negotiations, Southern Kordofan and Southern Blue Nile secured their own protocol. Under extreme pressure internally and from the international community, the SPLM/A representatives in the Nuba Mountains and Southern Blue Nile backed down on many of their key demands, including participation in the southern referendum. These compromises secured gains in other parts of the CPA, mostly for Abyei. The Nuba Mountains became part of a new state of Southern Kordofan based on the previous boundaries of Kordofan's two states prior to 1974, and Southern Blue Nile became the state of Blue Nile.
The Protocol on the Resolution of the Conflict In Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile States (May 2004) is not the final agreement. The agreement provides some degree of power sharing, security reform and wealth sharing. There is a rotating governorship between the National Congress Party (NCP) and the SPLM; the SPLM comprises 45 per cent and the NCP 55 per cent of the new government; there are guarantees that funds from the central government will be made available; and there are elections. Though the protocol recognises these areas as a "model for solving the problems throughout the country," it does little to address directly the core grievances that gave rise to the conflict, instead deferring resolution to a complex political process and a series of commissions. It is not final until it is tested against popular will through popular consultation after the national and local elections.
The remaining mechanisms to deal with core grievances on land reform, sources of legislation and education reform are: the constitution; legislation through the national and state assembly; the state land commission; the census; the Presidential Monitoring Commissions, the States' Parliamentary Assessment and Evaluation Committee; the elections; and finally the process of popular consultation. The popular consultation is designed to be an indirect consultation through the elected representatives to the state assembly (in the Southern Kordofan State Constitution, the parties are discussing whether to include an actual popular vote to inform the elected representatives), with advice from national-level and state-level CPA monitoring commissions. If the state assembly endorses the status quo, it becomes the final settlement. If they choose to amend the current provisions, they will open negotiations with the Government of National Unity.