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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 16. Sudan Ecumenical Forum

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· 16 ·

SUDAN ECUMENICAL FORUM

There were few glimmers of light for peace in Sudan at the turn of the millennium. The war seemed deadlocked, interminable. Sudan had started oil production, and the government appeared to be more interested in refurbishing its arsenals of weaponry than in using the oil revenues to build the country. A bitter feud raged in the governing party in Khartoum after the chief ideologue of the Islamic revolution, Hassan Turabi, had fallen out with President Omar al-Bashir and was placed under house arrest. The terrible famine in Bahr el-Ghazal in 1998, and the relief action that followed, attracted a high level of international interest, but did not lead to any political moves towards a resolution of the conflict. Nor did the SPLM/A appear to have any desire or ability to put on pressure in the negotiations. The international community seemed paralyzed or uninterested in applying pressure to the parties to reach a solution.

The IGAD countries had more than enough problems of their own: Ethiopia and Eritrea were at war with each other, northern Uganda was terrorized by Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), and Moi’s totalitarian rule was nearing its end in Kenya. Libya and Egypt were beginning to get involved in a new peace initiative, but everyone (apart from Sudan) saw this as an attempt to interfere with the almost defunct IGAD process. The USA was ← 107 | 108 → in an election year, and the...

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