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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 21. Back in Juba


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· 21 ·


In April 2013, I was again back in Juba. Last time I had visited South Sudan, well over a year earlier, President Salva Kiir had just ordered a full stop to oil production, because Sudan and South Sudan had not agreed on South Sudan’s fee for pumping its oil through Sudan to the Red Sea port. Oil production stood still for a year, while the two Sudans discussed the matter, and even after the production was resumed, it has so far not reached the previous level.

Many people thought Salva Kiir was committing political suicide with the drastic step of closing the oil production. There was scarcely any country in the world more economically dependent on oil revenues than South Sudan. It was no less than 98% of the state budget. I asked several experts how the South Sudanese had managed to survive with a gap of 98% in their income. Some thought that the suffering during the lengthy war had made people capable of getting by with “little or nothing.” Besides this, the people had few expectations from the government that had never contributed much to the public services. Many also claimed that public money had been stashed in foreign banks, and was now being used in these times of economic crisis.

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