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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 14. New Power Struggle in the SPLM/A


← 87 | 88 →

· 14 ·


The Kejiko meeting between the SPLM/A and the NSCC in 1997 was the starting point of the peace process led by the church in Southern Sudan. Soon, however, the positive collaboration between the liberation movement and the church council deteriorated, and was put to test. Several reasons explain why the peace process became difficult. In the local conflict between the Didinga people and the SPLA soldiers around Chukudum in Eastern Equatoria, the liberation movement itself was one of the parties. This was one of the most serious and lengthy conflicts between the SPLA and the people. Many attempts were made to bring together the civilians and the local leadership of the SPLA, but only in August 2002 was the NSCC able to stage a reconciliation conference for this area. However, the comprehensive peace plan agreed upon in Chukudum did not lead to a lasting peace and the tensions continued. In many places in Western Equatoria too, people were critical of the SPLA soldiers, whom they did not always experience as liberators. The work for peace and reconciliation, started by the NSCC, laid bare the defects and the negative aspects of the SPLA, not least the problem of undisciplined and rowdy soldiers.

It was, however, another conflict that posed a more serious challenge to the liberation movement and threatened its good relationship with the church ← 88 | 89 → council. That was when the leadership of...

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