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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 15. Kisumu


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· 15 ·


It was unclear who would attend the People to People conference in Kisumu in June 2001. When the conference started, many of the invited had not yet arrived, but several were on their way from various places in Southern Sudan. Gradually the meeting hall got filled with representatives from Sudan and the diaspora. Hardly any Dinka chiefs attended, and Nuers were the majority. Women were well represented. Two widows, a Dinka and a Nuer, opened the conference with songs lamenting the husbands they had lost in the civil war. The women’s grief and pain put things in perspective for all of us: The people suffer when leaders are in conflict—or, as a proverb goes, “The grass suffers when elephants fight.” Now was the time for the people to meet their leaders and let them know the impacts of the war. Now was the time to call the leaders to account vis-à-vis the people whom they claimed to represent.

The international presence was important to show that the Southern Sudanese people were not alone. The world’s attention was on their sufferings, and their lamentations were heard. After the widows’ song came greetings from Kenyan politicians and representatives from the civil society. The World Council of Churches was represented by its Secretary General, Sam Kobia, who had followed the conflict in Sudan since his time as chairman of the National Council of Churches of Kenya. He was one...

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