Regional concerns - Sudan - Important documents
The Sudan is now in the midst of an historic and exciting time. Long awaited peace is finally emerging, and a nation that has experienced war and strife for many generations is preparing itself for reconstruction and the advent of peace.
Sudan was ruled jointly by Britain and Egypt from 1899 to 1955, and the regions of Northern and Southern Sudan were separately administered. During this time the North was given preferential treatment in terms of resources and development, and the South was largely underdeveloped and impoverished. When independence from colonial rule by Britain and Egypt was achieved in 1956 civil war broke out over disagreements regarding power sharing between the North and South and the granting of relative autonomy to Southern Sudan. This first civil war lasted for 17 years until a peace deal was brokered in 1972 under the Addis Ababa Agreement. The ecumenical movement, particularly the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) and the World Council of Churches (WCC), played a major role in helping to broker this agreement. This agreement provided for relative autonomy and self-government for the South.
Unfortunately, this agreement was abrogated by the North after 11 years.
In 1983 civil war erupted again between the government of Sudan (GOS) forces in the North and the forces of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) in the South. Northern Sudan is predominantly Muslim while Southern Sudan is predominantly Christian or animist. War has engulfed this country for all but a short period of times since its independence in 1956. Estimates are that 2.5 – 3 million people have died as a result of the war, and over 4 million have had to flee their homes.
As mentioned above this conflict now finally appears to be ending. Under the auspices of the African regional grouping of IGAD, peace talks between the Sudanese government and the SPLA/M have reached historic agreements. This has been a long and hard process with many disappointments along the way. The singing of the Machakos Protocol in July 2002 marked a historic turning point towards a just and lasting peace for Sudan. This protocol brought about a cessation of hostilities and provided for among other things the recognition of the right of self-determination for Southern Sudan. This was followed by further protocols (Security Arrangements in September 2003, Wealth Sharing in January 2004, and the three most recent protocols – Abyei, Nuba Mountains and Southern Blue Nile, and Power Sharing in May 2004). The agreements reached in the last three protocols were the most contentious and difficult to reach. Enormous pressure was placed on both parties by the IGAD countries under the leadership of Kenya, and the “friends” of IGAD – Norway, Italy, Britain and the United States of America. As the leader of the SPLA/M, Dr. John Gareng de Mabior, expressed it in an address a few days after the signing of the last three protocols at Naivaisha in May 2004, “We were forced to sign…The cost of continuing the war was much higher for both sides than the cost of stopping the war, so we stopped the war.”
At this point the only remaining item is the signing of a Comprehensive Peace Agreement. This agreement will have two basic components: a comprehensive cease fire and the implementation modalities. Negotiations for this Comprehensive Peace Agreement have just begun, and both sides are expressing optimism that the final agreement will be reached soon, as the most difficult and contentious issues have already been dealt with.
Key provisions of the Peace Agreement
The protocols are quite complex and detailed, but what follows is brief summary of some of the key provisions:
Following the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement there will be an interim period of 6 months during which time necessary arrangements will be but in place for implementing the agreements (interim constitution, etc.)
This will be followed by a 6 year period and during this period the following will be in place:
o A separate government for the South. The GOS will have representation in the government according to formulas set out in the protocols.
o A national unity government. The SPLM will have representation in this government according to formulas set out in the protocols.
o State governments throughout the country in both the North and South, and both the GOS and SPLM will have representation in all of them (GOS will have majority in the North and SPLM will have the majority in the South).
o Provisions have been made for sharing of oil revenues for the oil rich regions of the South.
o The region of Abyei will be ruled directly by the Presidency, and the SPLM will have representation in the Presidency.
o At the end of 3 years there will be elections throughout the country, and the make-up of the various governments will change according to the results of the elections
There will be two standing armies in Sudan, the GOS in the North (and some in the South) and the SPLA in the South (and a limited presence in the capital).
At the end of the 6 year period there will be a referendum in the South where the people will have the right to vote on unity or separation.
Simultaneous to the referendum in the South there will be a referendum in Abyei where the people will have the right to vote directly to be part of the north or the South.
In Northern Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains there will be elected representatives, and at the end of the 6 year period these representatives will be able to decide the fate of these two regions. There will not be a direct referendum as in Abyei.
Winning the peace could be a much harder than stopping the war! While there is great rejoicing that hostilities appear to have finally ended, there is still an enormous task ahead to insure a just and lasting peace for Sudan. Among the many challenges are the following:
Communities throughout Sudan have known nothing but war for many generations, and military, militias, and the guns have come to be prominent parts of the culture.
The peace agreements call for participatory democratic structures to play a crucial role in transforming Sudanese society; however, these structures do not a present exist in either the North or the South. It will take the political will and commitment of both sides in order for this to succeed. This will be difficult given the past policies of the North and the mistrust and suspicion that exists.
Ongoing and new conflicts in Darfur, Northern Uganda, eastern Upper Nile and Lakes Regions all contribute to on-going human suffering and instability in Sudan and threaten the peace agreement.
There are “gray areas” in the protocols such as who has the right to vote in the referendums, uncertainty as to the status of “sharia,” timeline for troop withdrawals, guidelines for determining oil earnings in the South, and the effect of elections 3 years into the 6 year period.
Enormous task of reconstruction in Southern Sudan
Vast numbers of returning refugees and internally displaced persons are expected.
The ecumenical movement and the Sudan Ecumenical Forum (SEF)
The SEF is a unique gathering in the ecumenical movement, and its assembly recently met outside Nairobi, Kenya. With the SEF assembly coming at this historic time it provided an valuable opportunity for reflection on recent events and the challenges that lie ahead. Presented below is the declaration from this assembly:
DECLARATION OF THE ASSEMBLY OF
THE SUDAN ECUMENICAL FORUM
14-16 JUNE 2004
The Sudan Ecumenical Forum Assembly, comprising the Sudanese church and its international partners under the auspices of the World Council of Churches, meeting in Limuru, Kenya from 14th-16th June 2004, bringing together more than 100 delegates from at least 17 countries, hereby: celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Sudan Ecumenical Forum, rejoices in its contribution to peace in Sudan and commits itself to continuing this journey of hope.
The peace agreement
welcomes the peace protocols signed between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement on 26th May 2004, encourages them to sign a final comprehensive peace agreement as soon as possible, and rejoices that a space has been created for a just and lasting peace in Sudan.
congratulates the people of Sudan, the two parties, the Government of Kenya, IGAD, USA, UK, Norway, Italy, Switzerland, the African Union, the UN, and all those who contributed to this significant step forward.
reserves special praise for the courage and vision of the leaders of the two negotiating teams, HE Dr John Garang de Mabior and HE Ali Osman Taha, and for the President of Sudan, HE Lt Gen Omar Hassan al Bashir.
commits itself to popularising and supporting the agreement.
urges the parties to strive for the full implementation of the final agreement, and to increase the inclusivity and transparency of the process to ensure ownership by all the people of Sudan, in both north and south.
challenges the international community to remain committed to supporting the implementation of the peace agreement throughout the Interim Period and beyond.
The role of the church
expresses its continuing solidarity with the people of Sudan and commits itself to ongoing support for the Sudanese church and its leadership.
appreciates the special role of the church in providing spiritual and moral leadership.
encourages the Sudanese church to play a vigorous role in civic education and in strengthening civil society for the transformation of society.
encourages the church to use its unique gift of facilitating reconciliation and forgiveness at all levels, including grassroots action, and urges international partners to support this.
emphasises the need for inter-faith dialogue to increase understanding and promote relations between people of all faiths in Sudan.
affirms local advocacy initiatives undertaken by local representatives of faith-based groups in Sudan.
notes with sadness the trauma which affects the Sudanese people at all levels and offers its support to the Sudanese church in its ministry of healing.
urges the international church network to enhance the capacity of the Sudanese church and its councils to respond effectively to the emerging challenges.
recognises the opportunities and challenges offered by the expected influx of people returning to their homes.
urges the local authorities, NGOs and international donors to act quickly and effectively for voluntary repatriation and resettlement of IDPs and refugees, while not forgetting the needs of the communities which have remained at home and hosted their displaced brothers and sisters.
emphasises the need for rehabilitation and reconstruction in the war-affected parts of Sudan, and urges all concerned to facilitate the provision of basic services, including health and education, and to empower local communities for sustainable development.
warns of the future impact of HIV/AIDS in Sudan and urges all stakeholders to intensify their efforts at awareness and prevention.
calls on all international players to listen to and to hear the voice of the Sudanese in setting priorities, and to walk with them in implementation of the peace accord.
warns that other conflicts, particularly in Darfur and northern Uganda, not only cause immense human suffering in themselves, but also pose a serious threat to peace in southern Sudan.
expresses its deep concern at the ongoing humanitarian disaster and gross human rights abuses taking place in Darfur and demands that the cease-fire be respected, an end to human rights violations, guaranteed humanitarian access, and the full deployment of the independent monitoiring team.
calls on all parties to that conflict to enter urgently into meaningful peace negotiations and on the international community to support a just and enduring political solution.
commits itself to solidarity with the suffering people of Darfur.
is shocked that new conflicts have emerged in southern Sudan, including the Collo (Shilluk) kingdom, eastern Upper Nile and Lakes Region, calls on all parties to work for peace and reconciliation, and demands immediate humanitarian access to all affected people.
expresses its deep concern at the ongoing conflict in northern Uganda, urges all interested parties to seek a negotiated solution, and commits itself to solidarity and cooperation with the Ugandan people and religious leaders as they work for peace.
is concerned about the possibility of future conflict over water and urges the states of the Nile basin to negotiate an agreement which will take account of the needs of all stakeholders.
welcomes the current renaissance within Africa and commits itself to working more closely with African bodies, both church and secular, in advocacy for a just and lasting peace in Sudan.
rejoices at the resurgence of the All Africa Conference of Churches and welcomes the commitment shown by regional church bodies such as AACC and FECCLAHA.
Sudan Ecumenical Forum
re-appoints Bishop Kevin Dowling as Chair of the Sudan Ecumenical Forum Assembly and appoints Rev Ornulf Steen as Moderator of the Sudan Ecumenical Forum Core Group.
appreciates the work of the two ecumenical envoys, Bishops Kevin Dowling and Mvume Dandala, and recommends that they continue.
appreciates the work of the two Sudan Focal Points and recommends that they continue with the same staff, Ms Marina Peter and Mr John Ashworth.
acknowledges with thanks the support of the World Council of Churches, and particularly its Secretary General, Dr Sam Kobia.
acknowledges with gratitude the support and commitment of all the international members of the Sudan Ecumenical Forum.
notes that the Sudan Ecumenical Forum network must continue and indeed intensify international advocacy after the signing of the comprehensive peace agreement.
Signed this 16th day of June 2004 in Limuru, Kenya
Bishop Kevin Dowling
Chair, Sudan Ecumenical Forum Assembly
Rev Ornulf Steen
Moderator, Sudan Ecumenical Forum Core Group
Most Rev Dr Joseph Marona
Archbishop of Episcopal Church of Sudan
Bishop Paride Taban
representing Archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro, Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference
Rev Peter Makuac
Moderator, Presbyterian Church of Sudan
Rev John Okumu
Regional Coordinator, South Sudan,
Africa Inland Church
Rev Michael Taban
General Overseer, Sudan Pentecostal Church
Evangelist Andrea Kena
Chairman, Sudan Interior Church
Rev John Tong Puk
Chair, Sudan Council of Churches
Fr Mark Kumbonyaki
Chair, New Sudan Council of Churches