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Appeal of the Sudan Ecumenical Forum* on Sudan peace negotiations

07 July 1999

Issued in Geneva, 7 July 1999.

The Sudan Ecumenical Forum, convened in Geneva, 5-7 July 1999 by the World Council of Churches in cooperation with Caritas Internationalis, has reaffirmed the joint position of the Sudan Council of Churches and the New Sudan Council of Churches with regard to peace in the Sudan that:

  • A just and lasting peace can only be achieved through meaningful and genuine dialogue; no party can maintain the illusion that a military victory is possible.
  • The best hope for achieving a comprehensive cease-fire and a lasting peace is the negotiating framework provided by the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD).

The people of the Sudan are suffering immeasurably as a result of the civil war which has raged in the South for 16 years. This war must be stopped, and the IGAD Declaration of Principles for a lasting peace put in place without further delay.

A new round of negotiations will begin on 18 July in Nairobi, Kenya. We appeal to the Government of the Sudan, to the leadership of the SPLA/M, to the member states of IGAD, and to the IGAD Partners Forum to spare no effort to ensure their success. We appeal especially to the two parties to the conflict to engage in an open-ended process of negotiation, and continue until they have made measurable progress towards an agreement and committed themselves to a fixed schedule for further negotiations on the detailed terms of a full settlement.

The conditions for success are there. The Sudanese people in both North and South manifestly desire peace. The Government of Sudan and the Sudanese People's Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M) have both accepted the IGAD Declaration of Principles in 1998. The IGAD Partners Forum (IPF) has committed itself in Oslo in March 1999 to provide the necessary resources for an effective secretariat under the auspices of the Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs to allow the IGAD process to move ahead in a sustained, determined and deliberate way.

The political stalemate which has lasted for nearly a full year must be broken now. These talks must mark a turning point for peace. Neither the people of the Sudan nor the wider international community can accept anything less. The fighting must stop on all fronts, and the rights of the communities of Sudan to a peaceful environment, to equity, to democracy, to justice, to the reconstruction of the physical and social infrastructure, and to development must be realized without further delay.