Sudan Ecumenical Forum General Assembly 2009
SUDAN ECUMENICAL FORUM (SEF)
General Assembly, Juba 9 – 11 November 2009
The peace process in Sudan has reached a critical point. With less than five months before the elections and a little more than one year before the referendum, the fragile Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) is on the brink of collapse. We, the Sudanese Church and its worldwide ecumenical partners, assembled in Juba to assess the situation and to agree on joint action, call upon all our brothers and sisters inside and outside Sudan and the international community to join hands and to urgently mobilize the necessary will and resources to rescue the CPA.
We are appalled by the increasing number of inter-ethnic clashes in Southern Sudan, most prominently in Jonglei and Upper Nile, the ongoing attacks by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Western Equatoria and the continuing violence in Darfur.
In addition, we are particularly alarmed by the increase of violence in some parts of Southern Sudan including the abuse, rape and killing of women, elderly and children, aimed at destroying the social fabric within and between communities. We strongly condemn these and any other form of violence and urge both the Government of National Unity (GNU) in Khartoum and the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) in Juba to take responsibility, to fulfil their obligation to protect their citizens and bring to justice those responsible for committing and encouraging such attacks.
We are also deeply concerned about the delays in and problems around the preparation for the upcoming elections, the referendum and the Popular consultations in Southern Kordofan and Southern Blue Nile. The current political deadlock about the referendum quorum needs to be resolved as quickly as possible so that the parties can get on with the necessary election and referendum preparations. There needs to be a renewed national and international focus on the referendum to ensure that it takes place on time and in a free and fair environment. Whatever happens, the referendum must be seen to be inviolable.
In view of the disappointingly low turn-out for voter registration, we call on the NEC to clearly mark the registration centres and to extend the voter registration period, to make sure that the election commissions and electoral staff in all 25 states have the necessary material, training and logistical equipment to inform the population about their right to vote, and to enable and guarantee free and fair elections.
It is evident that there are no post-referendum arrangements yet in place. Therefore, it is high time to start planning for the period after 2011. In view of the various scenario exercises and post-2011 negotiations planned, we call on those involved to put the safety, security, livelihoods and rights of the poorest and most vulnerable, including women, children, elderly, IDPs and refugees first. Whether the referendum leads to one united nation or two separate nations, it is essential to put in place meaningful arrangements for a peaceful transition. In the case of unity, issues of national identity, power- and wealth-sharing need to be addressed. If separation, issues such as the position of southerners and churches in the north, the arrangements for resources such as oil and water, and the status of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, need to be addressed to ensure peaceful relations between the two new neighbours.
We as churches of the Sudan together with our worldwide partners are committed to the promotion of peace, dialogue and development and are stepping up our efforts to engage with our governments in the North and South.
We will concentrate our efforts on promoting and conducting dialogue and conflict resolution on all levels of society, from the grassroots to the leadership.
We will not keep silent as we witness severe human rights abuses including first signs of potential ethnic cleansing, where ever and by who ever they are committed.
We will spare no effort to rescue the CPA from collapsing, in order to avoid the worst case scenario of potential new war(s) in Sudan that would have devastating effects in the whole Region.
But to do this in the most effective way possible, we appeal especially to all witnesses and guarantors to the CPA, namely IGAD, the AU, the EU, the UN and individual States for urgent concerted and coherent diplomatic action and support of these efforts in solidarity with the people of the Sudan.
Signed on behalf of the participants:
Bishop Kevin Dowling, chair Sudan Ecumenical Forum (SEF)
Ramadan Chan Liol, General Secretary, Sudan Council of Churches
A signed copy is available at the SCC premises in Juba and Khartoum.