A Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) soldier (Reuters)
Church groups warn about 'collapse' of Sudan peace pact
From Ecumencial News International
Church agencies and analysts have warned that an agreement signed four years ago to put an end to a two-decade long civil war in Sudan is threatened with breakdown, thereby endangering the already fragile Horn of Africa region. The pact, called the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, signed on 9 January 2005, ended a 22-year civil war between Sudan’s central government and the Southern-based Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army.
"Without swift, decisive action by the international community there is a danger that the peace agreement will collapse and violence will escalate in Sudan," Gerrit Noltensmeier, the special representative for Sudan of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) said in a statement to mark the anniversary of the signing of the pact.
More than 2 million people died in the conflict and more than 4 million were driven from their homes. The civil war pitted the largely Muslim north against southerners, many of whom are Christians and those who practice traditional religions. The peace pact stated that at the end of a six-year transition period there should be a referendum on independence for the semi-autonomous South Sudan region, after nationwide elections in 2009.
Wilfried Steen of the German Protestant Church Development Service (EED) said it was doubtful whether the 2009 elections would take place. He noted that the peace agreement had been endangered by fighting in 2008 around Abyei, at Sudan's north-south border, and which is home to rival ethnic groups living on land with rich deposits of oil.