Southern Sudan faces turmoil

With the expiry of the comprehensive peace agreement, Sudan faces turmoil. The worldwide church should not stand by.

ENS reports southern Sudan Bishop John Zawo of the Diocese of Ezo has been visiting the Dioceses of Rhode Island and Virginia, and with their assistance spoke with USAID and Rhode Island’s senators, Reed and Whitehouse.

In the Guardian, Graham Kings writes:

History leapt to life for me a couple of weeks ago, while I was sitting under a tree in Rumbek, southern Sudan. I was reading about the first black bishop of Sudan, Elinana Ngalamu, who was consecrated in 1974 and became archbishop two years later. The chapter on his life, by Samuel Kayanga, in Announcing the Light: Sudanese Witnesses to the Gospel, edited by Andrew Wheeler, related the retirement of the previous bishop, a missionary. It was widely believed that he thought he should be succeeded by another missionary, who was serving in South Africa, rather than by Ngalamu.

A group of three Sudanese clergy in exile from the civil war signed a document in protest: Sudan was ready for its own bishop. I said to my Sudanese neighbour under the tree, who had just arrived, “This must have been a pivotal moment in the history of Sudan – the writing and signing of that document.” He agreed and, after a pause, went on, “By the way, he did not want to bring him from South Africa but from Uganda.” I asked, “How do you know?” He replied, “I drafted the document”.

I was conscious during the following week’s deliberations that I was witnessing another pivotal moment in the life of Sudan, and another key document. From 23-27 November the provincial standing committee of the Episcopal Church of Sudan was meeting to discuss renewing the life of the church and of the nation. It is less than five months before the national elections and just one year before the comprehensive peace agreement (CPA) expires: a dangerous vacuum may ensue. In 2011 the southern Sudanese are due to vote in a referendum on self-determination. The communique, headed “Blessed are the peacemakers”, stated bluntly, “The CPA is on the brink of collapse due to the contentions over the referendum law, the demarcation of the 1 January 1956 borders, and violence recently perpetrated by other armed groups.”

Read the rest here.

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