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The signing of the historic peace agreement between the Government of

17 January 2005

Message to the churches and people of Sudan, 17 January, 2005

On behalf of the World Council of Churches, I extend greetings to the churches
and people of Sudan in the name of Our Lord and Saviour who accompanies the
people in times of difficulties to inspire them with hope and assures them: "Behold!
I make all things new!" (Rev. 21:5)

The World Council of Churches shares the joy of the people of Sudan on this
happy and momentous occasion of the recent signing of the historic peace agreement
between the government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation
Army/Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SLPA/SPLM).

The World Council of Churches congratulates the government of Sudan, and the
SPLA/SPLM leadership on the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
This is a significant event in contemporary Africa and indeed an occasion of great
relief not only for the people of Sudan but also for all peace-loving people of the
world. Over the years the ecumenical movement committed major resources and
remained engaged in mediation initiatives that have contributed to the signing
of the agreement. The WCC applauds the tenacity and resilience of the ordinary
people of Sudan who have suffered much and now are looking forward to durable
peace and stability.

We thank God for the enduring faithfulness of the leadership of the concerned
parties and their commitment to work towards building confidence through the
difficult period of negotiations. We express our gratitude for the efforts of the
international community and affirm the solidarity of ecumenical partners in their
pledge towards the restoration of the dignity of the people of Sudan through dialogue
and negotiations. We appreciate and acknowledge the work of the regional
Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) for supporting and
urging the peace process resulting in the signing of the agreement. We thank the
Friends of IGAD - Norway, Italy, Great Britain, and the United Sates of America
- for the sustained and generous support provided. The Council also recognizes
the hosting and facilitation role of the government of Kenya that provided a committed
and farsighted leadership during the negotiation process.

The churches in Sudan worked towards a peaceable environment through lobbying
and advocacy in which justice and reconciliation became inevitable. In this
regard the World Council of Churches appreciates the exemplary leadership of
the Sudan Council of Churches and the New Sudan Council of Churches on behalf
of their member churches. In this endeavour they were supported, encouraged
and accompanied by the Sudan Ecumenical Forum. The Sudan Ecumenical Forum
established in 1994 by the World Council of Churches that brought together several
ecumenical partners from around the globe, deserves special thanks for the
unique role it has played particularly in the area of lobbying and advocacy during
the last ten years.

Sudan, the largest country in Africa, which borders nine countries, has been at
war with itself since its independence in 1956. The positive impact of the Agreement
will not only be for the people of Sudan, but also for the people of the nine neighbouring

The Agreement signed on January 9, 2005, brings a new life and a new hope to
the people of Sudan. Peace in Sudan has not been achieved without sacrifice. All
peace-loving people, nations, institutions, civil society groups, must jealously
guard and protect what has been achieved through careful diplomatic efforts.
The Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed includes the eight well-formulated
and inclusive protocols including the ones on the division of Sudan's national
wealth and power and the question of autonomy for the South. Under the terms
of the Agreement a government of national unity will be formed for a transitional
period of six years. During this time the South will be autonomous, and at the
end of the six-year period a referendum will be held on the issue of a unified Sudan
or secession of the South.

There is optimism and confidence shared by all the concerned parties that this
Agreement will bring a holistic, just and durable peace. The Agreement has been
negotiated skillfully, cautiously and diplomatically. This optimism is based on
the safeguard that the members of the African Union, and specifically the IGAD
leaders and the friends of IGAD and the international community are likely to
provide. They have invested a great deal since 1994 and are bound to ensure that
the Agreement is implemented in its spirit. The World Council of Churches will
continue to accompany and support the Sudanese churches as they keep themselves
involved in the implementation and monitoring of the Peace Agreement.

The post-conflict period is going to be difficult. Given the historical background
of the Sudan conflict and the consequences of being at war for many years since
independence, the challenges of attaining a just and enduring peace will be complex
and wide-ranging but not impossible. Peace and stability will be achieved
through a holistic and democratic process that embraces the civilian population
at the grass-roots level together with the policy makers to attain long-term strategic
objectives for social change.

The important question is how prepared are the people of Sudan to move from a
culture of war to a culture of peace? The situation requires vigilance and careful
planning because the period after prolonged conflict can easily fall back into
renewed violence. It is hoped that the international community as well as all stakeholders
will guarantee that the dark clouds of the past do not overwhelm the present.

As the parties concerned focus on the implementation of the Agreement there
will be many risks and challenges. In order to overcome such risks and challenges
the following need to be addressed in terms of confidence-building measures and
to assemble building blocks for a post-conflict, economic recovery and reconstruction
programme so essential for building peace:

1. Set up a coordinating mechanism to ensure and facilitate the continued support
and accompaniment by IGAD, the African Union and the international

2. Establish a well-equipped and robust international peacekeeping force that
is able to investigate reported violations of the Agreement and oversee its

3. Set up a strong mechanism on the ground that can deter any violations of
cease-fire and in case of violations respond swiftly and effectively.

4. Ensure that all the people of North and South Sudan irrespective of their
political inclinations own the peace process and participate in it.

5. Create an enabling policy environment for the local communities and vulnerable
groups to re-establish their livelihoods through networks of civic and
communal engagement.

6. Ensure freedom of religion and worship.

7. Ensure gender equality, and property rights, including communal land ownership.

8. Guarantee equality of opportunity, including freedom from exploitation,
slavery, and dependence on landlords and employers.

9. Establish an inclusive political process that guarantees participation of all
Sudanese citizens in the selection of their governments without recourse to
violence or unconstitutional means.

10. Ensure freedom of the press and freedom of expression.

11. Establishment of all the institutions that have been agreed upon in the various
protocols of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

12. Formulate and adopt a new constitutional order that promotes pluralism and
guarantees human and peoples' rights as well as basic universal principles of
liberty and freedom.

May this occasion become the dawn of new life among the people of Sudan and
the neighbouring nations. May they all learn from history and embark with confidence
on this definitive path of peace. May God grant manifold grace and assurance
for justice with prosperity to the people of Sudan. "Blessed are the peacemakers
- they shall be called the Children of God! "