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Reconciliation in the Sudans

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Stein Erik Horjen

In 2005, the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended the longest civil war in African history. Stein Erik Horjen argues that although this second civil war was not a religious one, religion still played an important role in the conflict. Ensuring freedom of religion was a high priority for the SPLM and for the Sudanese churches, which were instrumental in preparing the ground for the 2005 agreement in the same way they had been in facilitating the Addis Ababa Peace Agreement in 1972.
Focusing on the pivotal role of the Sudanese churches through a grassroots peace process called People to People, Horjen examines the churches’ work in ensuring the success of the peace talks between the SPLM and the government sealed by the 2005 Peace Agreement. Taking up the role as the voice of the voiceless, the Sudanese churches challenged and criticized the military and political leaders in regards to abuses of power.
In Reconciliation in the Sudans, Horjen details the tremendous suffering of the people during recurrent conflicts in Sudan and South Sudan. Understanding the history will allow the reader contextual insight into the latest conflict that erupted in South Sudan in 2013. The failure of including mechanisms for reconciliation in the CPA can be considered a main reason for this latest war.
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Chapter 1. Sunday Morning in the Cathedral

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SUNDAY MORNING IN THE CATHEDRAL

It was Sunday, July 10, 2011. We had arrived early to get seats in All Saints Cathedral, the Episcopal (Anglican) cathedral in Juba. The church was full to overflowing, and a film team transmitted the service to screens and loudspeakers outside the church, so that people who were sitting a long way off to the parking lot could follow it. A lot had happened since my first visit to Juba more than ten years earlier. At that time, the civil war was still raging. Juba was a garrison town then, run by the Sudan Armed Forces. The population was small and the situation was tense. Soldiers from the SPLA surrounded the city, and at times rockets were shot towards the town, scaring the civilian population. Now, what had once been a guerilla movement had become the country’s army.

We had celebrated South Sudan’s independence the day before. Together with the cheering crowd we witnessed the Sudanese flag lowered while the new colorful South Sudanese flag had been raised on what must have been Africa’s tallest flagstaff. The people were exultant. More than thirty African Heads of State had come to join in the celebration, and their private airplanes had neatly found their place on the small strip that is called Juba International Airport. Thousands of South Sudanese citizens waved their flags and listened patiently to the speeches in the blistering heat. Soldiers stood in...

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