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Reconciliation in the Sudans


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 10. Peace Initiatives


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· 10 ·


The civil war was stalled. There was no one in the south or in the north capable of bringing the two sides together. Neither side showed any willingness to negotiate with the other party, and more and more people came to hope that international involvement would bring about a peace process. Although some international initiatives were started in the 1990s, little indicated that these peace discussions would soon lead to a solution to the conflict.

The Organization of African Unity (OAU)1 asked Nigeria to host peace talks between the government and the rebels in 1992 and in 1994. On both occasions the difficulty was the representation from the rebels. Southern Sudanese were weakened by their division into two factions, SPLA Nasir and SPLA Torit. The NSCC undertook to bring the two leaders together and achieved a “limited peace agreement” whereby the SPLM/A released some political prisoners, and Garang and Machar agreed to send a joint delegation to the negotiations in Abuja in 1992.2 Their delegations had no common standpoint, however, and this made it easy for the government delegation (which had little interest in striking any deals with the rebels) to play them off against each other and ensure that the negotiations led nowhere. Neither had the NSCC’s efforts to bring Garang and Machar together have any lasting significance. Nor did American diplomatic initiatives to unite the Nasir ← 56 | 57 → and Torit factions of the SPLA...

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