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Churches Appeal to UN Security Council for Peace for Sudan

Even as continued violence has stalled efforts to bring food aid to desperate refugees, the U.N. has failed to enact meaningful measures to reign in the Sudanese government. This month's breakthrough talks between the government and southern rebels must be applauded; nevertheless, the government's failure to disarm local militias has shown the potentially duplicitous nature of their negotiations. While religious responses to the warfare have been relatively few and far between, religious groups can play a strong role in agitating for greater action, as seen in the following article.

By Mitch Odero

NAIROBI - November 18, 2004: An historic meeting of United Nations Security Council started today in Nairobi, Kenya with an agenda focusing on the protracted war in Sudan.

The Church in Africa and the World Council of Churches (WCC) presented a four-point proposal to the Security Council for meeting's deliberations. They were:

  1. That it is in the interest of the people of the Sudan, the International Community and the Church in Africa that the Security Council puts her utmost and unequivocal pressure on all the parties of the peace process in the Sudan to find a lasting solution to the conflicts in Sudan and to achieve a just and sustainable peace.
  2. That the final comprehensive peace agreement be signed and its implementation be witnessed and guaranteed by the International Community.
  3. That good governance be established throughout the Sudan to allow groups of the Civil Society to play their full part in building a Culture for Peace.
  4. That the International Community through the United Nations and African Union be mandated to provide mechanism for peace keeping and to ensure the smooth Implementations of the Peace Agreement in the South and the Darfur Regions.

Their concerns were expressed in a letter to the Security Council members written by Rev. Dr. Mvume Dandala, General Secretary, All Africa Conference of Churches and Dr. Agnes Abuom, World Council of Churches Africa President.

The Security Council meeting in Nairobi is expected to sharpen global attention on the plight of the Sudanese who have never known peace since their country gained political independence in 1956. The only time they enjoyed some peace interlude was from 1972 to 1983 as a result of Addis Ababa peace pact brokered by AACC and WCC.

In their letter Rev. Dandala and Dr. Abuom pointed out that the Church continues to stand with the oppressed people of Sudan as individual institutions or through WCC, AACC, northern Ecumenical Partners, Sudan Ecumenical Forum, Sudanese Christian Councils and the Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in the Great Lakes and the Horn of Africa (FECCLAHA).

Kenya has been the host of the Sudan Peace talks under the auspices of Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD). To date, six peace protocols have been agreed upon during the talks between Sudan People's Liberation Movement / Army (SPLM/A) and the Sudanese government. The talks adjourned in May this year and were due to be resumed in July when Darfur region was plunged into widespread massacres consequently stalling the peace talks.

The Security Council will also deliberate on the Darfur crisis and its humanitarian catastrophe. Rev. Dandala and Dr. Abuom noted "this conflict has led to the deaths of over 2 million Southern Sudanese with many more living in intolerable and inhuman conditions as Uprooted People. Whereas, many others are languishing inside the Sudan as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

The effects of conflicts have now extended to Darfur Region. It is estimated that about one million people have so far fled their homes into neighbouring country - Chad. Whereas, over 50,000 have been killed. Their homes and sources of livelihood have also been destroyed"

Russia and China who are members of the Security Council are major suppliers of arms to Khartoum government. Russia is currently also reconditioning Khartoum's' mig-jet fighters, according to various informed sources.

As Khartoum enjoy's a fortune from oil exports valued at US$ 30 billion a year, it is reported to be spending US$ one million a day to finance the war.

Among the protocols agreed upon are on wealth sharing, power sharing and cessation of hostilities. The parties are due to deliberate on two remaining protocols one on comprehensive peace agreement and the other on modalities for the implementation of all the protocols.

One of the snags to be tackled relate to the new security arrangement protocol in which it was agreed that SPLA would be transformed to become part of the national army based in southern Sudan.

Khartoum insists that it will be the responsibility of SPLM to meet the remuneration costs as well as its transformation and services. SPLM/A contents that since SPLA will be part of the national army, its costs should be met by the national vault. They (SPLM/A) further contend that since South Sudan is one of the most under-developed parts of the world and its natural resources having been exploited by others, it cannot afford the cost of transformation of its army as well as costs of other urgent needs for human development.

The Security Council meeting in Nairobi is the first ever in Africa and also the first ever outside New York for the last 14 years. Soon after the council's meeting, technical committees of SPLM/A and Khartoum government are due to meet to thrash out contentious issues in preparation for the final round of peace talks.

Source: All Africa Conference of Churches via the Worldwide Faith News Archive.

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