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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 22. The Long Road to Peace


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· 22 ·


The political system in South Sudan collapsed on the evening of Sunday, December 15, 2013. The exact circumstances during that fateful weekend of December 13–15 are unclear, but it is all related to political disputes in the leadership of the SPLM. In a meeting of the National Liberation Council in the party, President Salva Kiir expressed his beliefs that the former vice president, Riek Machar, attempted to stage a coup d’état, together with several prominent members of the party. Machar on his side, claimed that the president blocked an attempt to get the Political Bureau to meet in order to plan the next National Convention, and to nominate candidates in ample time for the election in 2015.1

Eleven leading SPLM politicians were arrested, including former ministers and a governor who had been deposed. Machar, the party’s deputy chairman, apparently managed to escape in a boat along the Nile that same evening before soldiers of the presidential guard raided his house in Juba. At least thirty-five watchmen and other employees in Machar’s house were killed, and the former vice president’s residence was razed to the ground with bulldozers.

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