Sudanese churches warn of return to war

In a statement this week, the church leaders expressed their concern over the failure of the Northern and Southern Sudanese governments to implement parts of the CPA, including holding a general election and referendum on full independence in Southern Sudan.

“Consequently there is a widespread lack of confidence by Southerners and other marginalised people in the fairness or true democracy of the upcoming elections and referendum because of a general lack of trustworthiness and transparency from the Northern government,” said the church leaders, who included Roman Catholic Archbishop of Juba, Paulino Lukudu Loro, and Anglican Archbishop of Sudan, Dr Daniel Deng.

Trust, they added, had deteriorated further because of the northern government’s lack of transparency surrounding oil revenue.

“If the agreement had been fully and honestly implemented from the outset, a peaceful, attractive unity would have had chance in Sudan,” they said.

“However, since the signing of the CPA, every protocol has either not been fully implemented or is under discussion for less-than-full implementation, and therefore unity is no longer attractive, especially to Sudanese Christians and those in the marginalised areas.”

The remote border region between southern Sudan and north-west Kenya was the scene of fresh violence this week. Southern Sudanese Information Minister Paul Mayom told the Agence France Presse news agency that at least three Kenyan soldiers had been killed by Southern Sudanese gunmen in cross border raids.

The church leaders said the message coming from churches in their networks was for an independent Southern Sudan “at all costs”, as they warned of a return to the 22-year civil war.

They said there had been increased attacks on civilians and government offices since August as part of a “coordinated campaign” by rebel forces to destabilise the South in the run up to the elections and referendum.

“The international community must take heed of these,” they said.

“In all these incidents of violence it has been the case that Southern Sudanese have for various reasons fought Southern Sudanese, a fact that leads the churches to urge our people to unite in this crucial time and not to jeopardise the CPA through infighting.”

The church leaders called for the deployment of more security forces to stop the attacks on civilians and urged the Government of Southern Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army to unite to protect people in the region.

“God will sit in judgement on those who are working against the rights of their own people in the South,” they said.

“If the CPA is made to work, it must be fully implemented by both signatories and must be fully supported by those guarantor governments who promised to do so in 2005.”

They added: “If the CPA is renegotiated or is allowed to fall apart, war or oppressive unity will be the outcome, with serious effects for the whole region.”