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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 3. The War No One Would Win


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· 3 ·


The Sudanese civil war was not only the longest on the African continent, it was also one of the bloodiest. Innumerable attempts to achieve peace were made in the course of these years, but for a long time, none of them bore any fruit. On both sides of the conflict leaders feared a peace settlement where they risked having to give more than they could receive in return. The war that began in 1983 was in many ways a continuation of the first civil war, which lasted from independence in 1956 until a peace agreement was signed in Addis Ababa in 1972. Behind both civil wars lay the same disputed questions: the Southern Sudanese wanted more control over their land and a larger share in the economic development—and they wanted respect for their cultural identity.

The Rebel Movement, SPLA

The first war began with a mutiny among government soldiers stationed in Torit, the capital of Eastern Equatoria. The second war too began as a revolt among Southern Sudanese in the national army. Soldiers in the town of Bor, the capital of Jonglei, were discontented, and Colonel John Garang in the Sudan Armed Forces was sent from Khartoum to hear the soldiers’ complaints. Their wages had not been paid, they said. Garang joined forces with the rebels and formed the ← 14 | 15 → SPLA in May 1983. A revolt was already brewing...

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