Archbishop urges international community to help preserve peace in Sudan

The Archbishop of Sudan says the international community must back the Comprehensive Peace Agreement if another war is to be averted in the country.

Archbishop Daniel Deng, leader of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, told reporters that failure to fully implement the CPA was likely to result in another war.

“There is fear that the CPA will become another agreement not fulfilled,” he said.

“The CPA and the current agreements on referendum and popular consultation law are simply pieces of paper until they are actually implemented on the ground.

“Sudanese politicians have lost the trust of the people regarding the honouring of agreements.”

The CPA was signed five years ago between the north and south, ending more than two decades of civil war. The approaching elections, Sudan's first multi-party elections in 24 years, and a referendum on whether Southern Sudan should become independent, are threatening to break the fragile peace.

The Archbishop urged the international community to play a greater role in the peace process, particularly those governments that guaranteed the CPA, among them Britain, Norway and the US.

He called for their support in ground level monitoring of the CPA and meetings with Sudanese politicians to assess the implementation of the agreement.

The Archbishop warned that unless the general elections were seen to be conducted fairly, the south would most likely vote to secede, a move he believes would be blocked by the north.

He stressed the Church’s position was not separation but unity on the basis of the CPA, which was intended to end the marginalisation of people on the peripheries, particularly people in the South and in Darfur. He warned that without this, southerners would not find unity an attractive option.

“The Church has never talked of separation but the implementation of the CPA,” he said. “We need the international community to support a document that has already been agreed. The Church is saying please help us to let these people exercise their rights.”

He added: “The Church is looking for a victory of peace. There has been fighting for 22 years and they have not defeated each other. We want a victory of peace so that people can have peace for life.”

Particular concern was expressed over the role of China in the conflict. The Archbishop said China, a major importer of Sudanese oil, was not interested in bringing peace to the country but only “looking for economic benefit”.

He was joined by the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, who recommended a single high level figure to act as a mediator between the feuding parties and called on China to play a “positive” role in peace efforts.

The Archbishops later expressed their concerns in a meeting with Prime Minister Gordon Brown.