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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 12. Kejiko

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← 68 | 69 →

· 12 ·

KEJIKO

The split in 1991 forced the SPLA/M to make changes in the liberation movement. In their manifesto, “Why John Garang Must Go Now,” Riek Machar, Lam Akol, and Gordon Kong accused the leader of “unclear political visions.” Garang was also blamed for a dictatorial leadership and serious human rights violations. The political-military High Command, who was appointed by Garang himself, had not met for five years, and a party convention had never taken place.1 The SPLM/A was primarily a military organization with a structure and lines of command that did not resemble a political party promoting democracy. Civilian leaders in the movement with no military background had little influence, and internal opposition was crushed in a heavy-handed manner. Even today it is difficult to have influence in the party without military credentials.

The movement received at that time limited sympathy in Equatoria, the southernmost part of the country, and in large parts of the then Upper Nile state. From 1991 the SPLM began a more dedicated process of reaching out to and attempting to convince Southern Sudanese to support their struggle. They were also aiming for a better international reputation. The most important move was the convocation of the National Convention in 1994, which staked out a political course and elected the party leadership. Even if the ← 69 | 70 → outcome of this meeting was less groundbreaking than promised, it showed that the movement was trying to move in...

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