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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 18. Entebbe Talks

Extract

← 131 | 132 →

· 18 ·

ENTEBBE TALKS

The Machakos protocol not only affirmed the right to self-determination and how this right was to be realized. It also described regulations for a six-year transitional phase with a multi-party coalition government and a new constitution. The two-year interim period that Garang and the SPLM/A had demanded had now become thrice as long. The Machakos protocol also contained a specific article on state and religion, which affirmed that Sudan is a multicultural, multiethnic, multireligious, and multilingual country and that religion should not be employed as a divisive factor. Religion is “a source of strength and moral inspiration for the Sudanese people.” There must be freedom of religion, and no one is to be discriminated on grounds of belief. All public offices and positions, including that of the president of the Republic, “shall be based on citizenship and not on religion, beliefs, or customs.” The lengthy list of rights that the parties had to respect includes full freedom to worship, to give instruction in belief, to produce religious literature, and to construct places of worship. This seemed almost too good to be true. Was this the Sudan we knew, or something totally new?

The man who signed in Machakos on behalf of the SPLM/A was second-in-command, Salva Kiir. There were no doubts about the position he took on the right to self-determination. He had fought all the time together ← 132 | 133 → with his soldiers for liberation from the...

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