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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 11. One Voice

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· 11 ·

ONE VOICE

The SPLM/A managed to recover from the split and after a few years had passed, had again taken control over the rural areas in Southern Sudan and large parts of the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan and the southern area of Blue Nile, Funj. People in the “liberated areas” experienced fear of bombs, attacks by Arab militia groups, and internal conflicts between the various rebel movements. Life was rough, but the churches were relatively free in their work and could speak fairly openly about the abuses committed by both the government and by the liberation movements. With its base in Nairobi, the NSCC was close to the international press and the attention of the relief organizations.

The situation for the churches that worked in the large towns in the government-controlled areas in Southern Sudan and among the Southerners in the north, was completely different. The authorities kept a close eye on what the churches and the SCC were doing, and noted that they were a hub for political activism and one of the most important institutions for Southern Sudanese identity in northern Sudan. The SCC had to endure suspicions that they supported the rebel movement in the south. Unlike the NSCC in Nairobi, the SCC in Khartoum was isolated from the world press, and often also cut off from international partners. It was necessary that information about the churches’ situation and views in the government-controlled areas were...

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