A powerful statement issued a couple of weeks ago (while I was further in the field) by the Episcopal Church of Sudan is worth highlighting for the palpable frustration it conveys. Although the North and South have reached some consensus on the referendum law, the situation on the ground in southern Sudan remains tenuous, where patience with the implementation of the 2005 North-South Comprehensive Peace Agreement (or lack thereof) is waning among church leaders and their constituents. A clip from the statement:
We express our sadness at the missed opportunity for making the unity of the Sudan attractive since the signing of the CPA: the lack a reconciliation process, the lack of transparency over the National Census and oil revenues, the failure to repeal or alter laws which are contrary to the spirit of the CPA which guarantees equality and freedom for all, the stalling implementation of the July 2009 Abyei ruling, and the current deadlock over the legislation governing the referendum in Southern Sudan and the popular consultations in Abyei, Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan. Unity has not been made attractive.
The Episcopal Church of Sudan also sounded the alarm about the challenges of the coming year:
The peace process in Sudan has reached a critical point. With less than five months before National Elections and just over one year to the referendum on southern self-determination, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) is on the brink of collapse due to contentions over the referendum law, the demarcation of the 1st January 1956 borders, and violence recently perpetrated by other armed groups.
Increasingly, southerners are speaking out and voicing their grievances with the stalled implementation of the CPA. Simply put, comprehensive peace is not a reality today in southern Sudan. Many voices – from people I have met in villages in Jonglei state, to the southern President Salva Kiir, who has made his opinion known publicly and repeatedly in the past several weeks – are trying to get the word out: “Unity has not been made attractive.”
Laura Heaton contributed to this post.
Photo: Archbishop of Sudan, Dr. Daniel Deng