Sudan Authorities "Not Serious" About Peace Plan, warns Bishop

The Auxiliary Bishop of Khartoum has accused the Sudanese government of "playing games" with the people of Sudan after failing to rein in on militia groups despite a 2005 power-sharing plan.

Bishop Daniel Kur Adwok described President Omar al Bashir's government as "not serious at all" about the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed in January 2005 between Khartoum and a rebel movement in southern Sudan.

He accused the authorities of making little effort to rein in the militia armies which he said were still "free to do whatever they want", a report from Aid to the Church in Need said.

Last year militia armies clashed with forces linked to the Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA) in the southerly town of Malakal, leaving more than 300 people dead.

Bishop Adwok said the conflict was linked to Khartoum's failure to hand over control of Malakal to the SPLA, as part of the CPA, a process due for completion last summer.

"In Khartoum, the government is playing a game - they are just letting things carry on as they are. They are not at all serious about addressing the real issues," he said.

He added: "The militia is free to do whatever they want."

Bishop Adwok went on to accuse the Sudanese government of failing to take steps to assist the return of internally displaced Sudanese - many of them Christians - who are longing to return home now that there is more peace in the south after 25 years of war.

He said that Khartoum was against the displaced returning to their place of origin because a boost in numbers in the south would increase support for granting independence to southern Sudan.

Key to the CPA is a referendum on a possible partition of Sudan, an outcome which Khartoum is desperate to prevent.

Government treatment of non-Muslims in the Khartoum area also came in for criticism from Bishop Adwok, who said progress towards religious freedom was very slow.

He welcomed as a small breakthrough, however, the Sudanese government's approval to the construction of churches on three sites in and around Khartoum - two for the Protestants and one for the Catholics.

But Bishop Adwok said the concession was minimal compared to ongoing government restrictions on church building projects, with up to 20 planned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Khartoum alone.

Far from confining his criticism to Khartoum, Bishop Adwok went on to attack the authorities in south Sudan, saying government ministers were responsible for "high levels of corruption".

Bishop Adwok's comments echo those of Cardinal Gabriel Zubeir Wako, Archbishop of Khartoum, who claimed that the CPA "has been translated into agreements to 'peacefully' continue war and prepare for war".