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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 17. Let My People Choose!

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← 116 | 117 →

· 17 ·

LET MY PEOPLE CHOOSE!

It came as a surprise that Riek Machar was the one representing the SPLM/A at the NSCC’s round table conference in January 2002. His reconciliation with John Garang only a few weeks earlier was known, but it was not expected that he already was the spokesman for the liberation movement. Eleven years after parting with Garang, Machar was now explaining to the churches the new political direction in the movement. First priority, he said, was to work for a confederation, a governance system where Sudan would still be one country, but with two autonomous governments that ruled side by side in different parts of the country.

In the north, they could continue with the sharia legislation, while there would be a liberal form of governance in the south, with a secular state. The collaboration between the two self-governing parts of Sudan should be negotiated. Machar also said that if no accord could be reached with Khartoum on a confederation of this kind, the alternative was a secular government for the whole country. Before the party conference that the SPLM intended to hold later that year, the movement wanted to produce a new draft constitution. Machar admitted the difficulties in spreading these ideas among his military commanders. Most Southern Sudanese had hoped for liberation from the north, meaning secession, so these new ideas would be hard to accept. ← 117 | 118 →

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