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Church peace plan for South Sudan: The Church of England Newspaper, June 20, 2014 June 26, 2014

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The Primate of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan, the Most Rev. Daniel Deng of Juba, has published an open letter on behalf of the church and the leading civic groups detailing the steps needed towards reaching a last peace in South Sudan. What began in December as a political dispute between President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar has evolved into a tribal war between the Nuer and Dinka that has left several thousand dead and driven over one million people from their homes.  Meeting in talks brokered by Hailemariam Desalegn, the prime minister of Ethiopia, on 10 June 2014 the two sides agreed to a cease fire and pledged to form a unity government within sixty days. However, past deals to end the violence have been not held. In his 6 June 2014 Open Letter, Archbishop Deng stated it was essential that there be an “independent voice for peace and reconciliation” within the country independent of tribe, urging the warring parties to lay down their arms and “listen”. “We have to show we have a common goal no matter what tribe we belong to, what part of the country we come from or what position we have in society. Our independent actions must find unity in our collective aspiration to end war, heal our nation and build momentum for peace, security and development,” the archbishop said.

Sudanese Christians plea for release of Meriam Ibrahim: The Church of England Newspaper, June 6, 2014 June 17, 2014

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The Sudanese Council of Churches has called for the immediate release of Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, the Christian woman sentenced to death last month for apostasy from Islam by a Khartoum court. In a 1 June 2014 statement given to the media, the SCC said the death sentence for apostasy and sentence of 100 lashes for adultery for having married a Christian is a “clear and direct persecution of Christians in Sudan”. The statement from the Anglican, Roman Catholic, Reformed, Orthodox and Independent Christian churches further charged her conviction Articles 31 and 38 of the Sudanese Constitution and contravened the International Charter of Human Rights which provides for freedom of religion and conscience. Sudan is a signatory to the Human Rights convention. Press reports from Sudan have quoted an unnamed senior government leader as having said Mrs. Ibrahim will be released from prison, however she remains in prison. Last week she gave birth to a daughter, but remained shackled during her delivery her husband reported. Under her current sentence of death, Mrs. Ibrahim will be allowed to look after her child for two years before the sentence is carried out.

Sudan’s prisoner of conscience gives birth to baby girl in prison: The Church of England Newspaper, May 30, 2014 June 17, 2014

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Lawyers for a Christian woman sentenced to death for apostasy by a civil court in Khartoum have filed an appeal seeking to overturn her conviction. On 11 May 2014 Meriam Yahia Ibrahim, a 27 year old mother of a 20 month old child who is eight months pregnant, was given three to repudiate her Christian faith and become a Muslim. If she refused, she would be executed for apostasy. Born to a Sudanese Muslim father and an Ethiopian Orthodox mother, Mrs. Ibrahim was reared as a Christian after her father abandoned the family when she was six. However, under Shariah Law a child of a Muslim father is considered a Muslim. Mrs. Ibrahim, who married a South Sudanese Christian, was also convicted of adultery and sentenced to receive 100 lashes for the crime of marrying a Christian. Under the Shafi’i school of Islamic jurisprudence followed in Sudan, apostates are divided into two categories: parental and innate. Innate apostates were those whose parents were Muslim, made a profession of Islam—the Shahada-as an adult and then left the faith, while parental apostates were those born in non-Muslim families and converted to Islam as an adult, and then left the faith. Punishment for an innate apostate is death under Sudanese law, while a parental apostate is given three days to recant their apostasy.  The case has prompted an international outcry with Western governments, NGOs and church leaders calling for her release. Sudanese opposition leaders have also denounced the decision saying it violates the country’s constitutional right to freedom of religion. Christian Solidarity Worldwide’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas stated Mrs. Ibrahim’s “continued imprisonment violates international statutes to which Sudan is a signatory as well as article 38 of the country’s interim constitution which guarantees freedom of religion or belief for all and in particular states that ‘no person shall be coerced to adopt such faith that he/she does not believe in, nor to practice rites or services to which he/she does not voluntarily consent.’ CSW calls on the international community to hold Sudan to its international obligations and to provisions contained within its constitution.”

Ceasefire signed in South Sudan: The Church of England Newspaper, May 16, 2014 June 2, 2014

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South Sudan President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar have signed an agreement to end the civil war in South Sudan.  On 9 May 2014 a cease fire agreement was signed in Addis Ababa to end the tribal conflict that has left thousands dead and driven almost a half million people from their homes. The Primate of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan the Most Rev. Daniel Deng Bul accompanied by his Roman Catholic counterpart Archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro and the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan, the Rt. Rev. Peter Gai Lual Marrow joined the talks brokered by Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, the African Union, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development and the US and British governments. Mark Simmonds, British foreign minister for Africa, welcomed the accord as “long overdue” but added it was “essential that both sides ensure its immediate implementation and take full responsibility for the forces under their control. Only with continued engagement and the genuine commitment of both sides will South Sudan be able to pull back from catastrophe,” he said. “This conflict has caused innumerable deaths, forced hundreds of thousands of people from their homes, and brought the country to the brink of famine.” While on a visit to Juba last week the Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the WCC, stated: “Churches in South Sudan have a significant role in national dialogue, affirming unity and a sense of nation-building by strengthening a process of reconciliation.”

Sudan archbishop elected: The Church of England Newspaper, April 28, 2014 June 2, 2014

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The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan (ECSSS) has elected the Rt. Rev. Ezekiel Kondo, Bishop of Khartoum as Archbishop for Sudan (north). On 4 April 2014 the church’s bishops elected Bishop Kondo to serve as the first archbishop for the newly created northern province of the ECSSS. At the November 2013 meeting of general synod, the ECSSS voted not to split the church into two national provinces in light of the independence of South Sudan, but two create two internal provinces: one for the Republic of South Sudan and one for the Islamic Republic of Sudan that would consist of the dioceses of Khartoum, Port Sudan, Wad Medani, Kadugli, and El Obeid. A native of the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan, Bishop Kondo was elected Bishop of Khartoum in 2003 and has led the church through recurring bouts of persecution by the Islamist government in Khartoum.

Sudan synod rejects call to divide: The Church of England Newspaper, December 13, 2013 December 18, 2013

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The Episcopal Church of the Sudan has rejected calls to divide the church along national lines, but has agreed to rename itself the Province of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan to mark the 2011 independence of South Sudan from Khartoum.

Meeting from 27-30 Nov 2013 in the Jonglei state capital of Bor in South Sudan 35 bishops and delegates from the church’s 31 dioceses: 26 in South Sudan and 5 (Khartoum, Port Sudan, Wad Medani, Kadugli, and El Obeid) in Sudan, debated the structure of the 4.5 million member church at the 10th meeting of the Provincial Standing Committee (synod).

The Bishop of Lianya, the Rt. Rev. Peter Amidi, told the Sudan Tribune the tremendous growth of the church over the past generation, coupled with the 2011 independence of South Sudan had raised the question of division. A split would “not [be a] separation as such but an arrangement within the Anglican communion where you devolve power from the mother provincial authority to the area of clusters of dioceses”.

Sources in the Sudanese church told the Church of England Newspaper the delegates discussed creating an independent province and an internal province for the north led by its own archbishop. However, the lack of infrastructure and funds along with the desire to support the persecuted church in the north led the delegates to endorse the status quo.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide reports Christians in the north are harassed by the government, which seeks to deport them to South Sudan or convert them to Islam. In April 2013 Khartoum’s Minister of Guidance and Endowments, Al-Fatih Taj al-Sir, told the country’s Parliament the government will not permit the construction of new Christian churches in the country.  CSW reports there has also been a systematic targeting of African ethnic groups, particularly the Nuba, prompting fears of a government plan for the Islamisation and Arabisation of norther Sudan.

In their communique, the Sudanese church welcomed the “improvement in relations” between north and south Sudan, and urged the two governments to “tackle any outstanding issues in a peaceful way.”

The communique also called upon the government of South Sudan to stem the recent outbreaks of tribal violence and called upon the international community to maintain pressure on Khartoum to halt the violence in Darfur, the Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains.

The synod also reaffirmed its support for the church’s traditional teaching on human sexuality, rejecting innovations in doctrine and disciple that would permit gay blessings. “We reaffirm our position rejecting same-sex relationship,” the communique said.

Church construction banned in the Sudan: The Church of England Newspaper, May 5, 2013 p 7. May 7, 2013

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Sudan’s Minister of Guidance and Endowments, Al-Fatih Taj al-Sir, has told the country’s Parliament the government will not permit the construction of new Christian churches in the country, but said that freedom of religion would be protected under the country’s Islamic Constitution.

On 17 April 2013 the government minister said that no new churches had been built since the secession of South Sudan in July 2011 due to lack of worshipers and the growing number of abandoned churches..

In a briefing published this month, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) stated that since December 2012, there had been “an increase in arrests, detentions and deportations of Christians and of those suspected of having links to them, particularly in Khartoum and Omodorum, Sudan’s largest cities. There has also been a systematic targeting of members of African ethnic groups, particularly the Nuba, lending apparent credence to the notion of the resurgence of an official agenda of Islamisation and Arabisation.”

“The campaign of repression [has] continued into 2013, with foreign Christians being arrested and deported at short notice, and those from Sudan facing arrest, detention and questioning by the security services,” the report said.

CSW’s Advocacy Director Andrew Johnston said, “The recent spike in religious repression in Sudan is deeply worrying. The Minister’s claims of guaranteeing freedom to worship are at odds with regular reports of Christians being harassed arrested and in some cases expelled from the country at short notice. We urge the Sudanese government to end its campaign of harassment against the Christian community and respect the right of all of its citizens to freedom of religion or belief.”

Sudan Archbishop to broker peace talks: The Church of England Newspaper, April 28, 2013, p 6. May 2, 2013

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The Archbishop of the Sudan, Daniel Deng, has offered to negotiate between the South Sudan government and rebel leader David Yau Yau to end the fighting in Jonglei state

A former Anglican seminarian, David Yau Yau has emerged as the head of rebel militia at war with South Sudan’s ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement [SPLM]. Earlier this month the government accused Yau Yau of having attacked UN peacekeepers in Pibor county. However the rebel leader denied responsibility and said he was ready to talk.

On 10 April Archbishop Deng said he was ready to talk to Yau Yau, “if I know where he is. It pains me when I see our people killing themselves.”

For the past three years the Archbishop has helped broker deals between rebel leaders and the government in South Sudan. In May 2012 the chiefs representing the six tribes in Bor were brought to church-sponsored roundtable talks to help resolve their differences with the state. A treaty was signed to end the fighting and disarm tribes.

Sudanese bishop suspended: The Church of England Newspaper, January 20, 2013 p 6. January 25, 2013

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The Bishop of Yambio in the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, the Rt Rev Peter Munde, has been placed on year’s administrative leave of absence.

On 28 December 2012 Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul stated Bishop Munde would be taking a sabbatical in Uganda for year. The decision to send the bishop away was taken to help defuse a split in the diocese that had seen a number of senior clergy withdraw from the church in protest at their bishop.

Archbishop Deng declined to state why the bishop had been sent on leave, but clergy sources in the Sudanese Church report the bishop had been accused of misappropriating funds, nepotism, and ordaining illiterates to the priesthood.

The Archbishop has appointed the Rev Samuel Borete as Vicar General for the diocese in the bishop’s absence and has asked the Bishop of Maridi, the Rt Rev Justin Badi to exercise episcopal oversight for the coming year.

Former seminarian turns rebel leader in the Sudan: The Church of England Newspaper, January 20, 2013 p 7. January 24, 2013

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A former Anglican seminarian has emerged as the leader of a rebel militia in South Sudan allied with the National Islamic Front government in Khartoum.

David Yau Yau, who attended theological college from 2004-2006 in Yei, has emerged as the head of rebel militia at war with South Sudan’s ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement [SPLM].

After being sent down from Emmanuel Christian College for failing to receive his Diploma in Theology, Yau Yau entered politics, but lost an election to the Jonglei State Assembly in April 2010 when South Sudan received its independence.  Yau Yau charged the vote was rigged and took his supporters into the bush.  The government offered Yau Yau a pardon in 2011 and a commission as a general in the SPLA.  However in April the South Sudan government announced Yau Yau had defected to Khartoum and had launched another rebellion in the Jonglei State.

Yau Yau’s former theological college principal, Bishop Ruben Akurdit Ngong of Bor Diocese, told the Sudan Tribune that as a seminarian, Yau Yau had asked for prayers to help his tribe, the “Murle to change their way of life.”

Now the champion of the Murle people had become their “enemy” the bishop said. “This self-promoted rebel general is killing people.”

Somber celebrations in Sudan on the 1st anniversary of independence: The Church of England Newspaper, July 22, 2012, p 6. July 26, 2012

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Anglican and Roman Catholic Church leaders in the Sudan have warned that relations between the National Islamist Front government in Khartoum and the SPLM government in Juba have “deteriorated to an unacceptable level” and that full scale war may soon erupt between North and South Sudan.

“We reject war as an option to resolve disputes, and we call on all parties to respect the cease-fire and to withdraw their forces from the border region,” said Roman Catholic Archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro of Juba, and Anglican Archbishop Daniel Deng of Juba on 9 July 2012 – the first anniversary of independence for South Sudan.

While the archbishops noted the blessings that peace and independence had brought to South Sudan, they voiced concern over tribal conflicts in South Sudan and the on-going civil wars in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile as well as the persecution of Christians by the Khartoum government.

The archbishops also called upon the Khartoum government to honor its commitment to allow a referendum for the oil-rich Abyei state, and stated the unresolved disputes over territory had grave economic repercussions for the two countries.

“Oil is a God-given resource that the two Countries should benefit from,” said the two Archbishops.

“We call for a settlement based on international standards for the transportation of crude oil and to recognize the damage caused by the current impasse to the populations of both States. Prices are rising and there are shortages of essential goods, including fuel, which make life difficult for ordinary citizens.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Outrage over church demolitions in the Sudan: The Church of England Newspaper, July 1, 2012 p 5. July 3, 2012

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Bishop Kondo dedicating Saint Johns, Haj Yousif in 2009

The Sudanese government has demolished an Anglican Church in Khartoum, claiming that as all South Sudanese have been ordered to leave the country, there is no need for any Christian churches in Khartoum.

On 18 June 2012 Khartoum police ordered all South Sudanese to leave the Khartoum suburb of Haj Yousif within 72 hours and demolished St John’s Episcopal Church. Dedicated on 24 May 2009, the Diocese of Khartoum reported the church had been built by the members of the community to serve the town’s Christian population.

However, Bishop Kondo told Radio Tamazuj the police claim the church was now no longer being used. “They argue that all Christian Sudanese have moved to South Sudan. But the authorities are fabricating lies. There are still many South Sudanese living in Sudan. Moreover, the church acts as a place of worship to all, not just the South Sudanese” the bishop said.

On 25 June the heads of the World Council of Churches [WCC] and the All Africa Conference of Churches [AACC] issued a formal protest over the “renewed destruction of church property in Khartoum.”

The WCC and AACC “strongly condemn the demolition of the Episcopal Parish Church of Saint John” by “government authorities.”

The attack on Saint John’s was part of a pattern of discrimination against Christians and follow government sanctioned attacks on churches and schools.  “We are further reminded that, the government of Khartoum had, for the first time in the country’s history, denied its citizens the Christmas holiday in December 2011.”

“We express our fears that all these events may not be isolated but rather calculated attacks on Sudanese civilians who are not of the Muslim faith and their property in Khartoum, and in particular Christians,” the church leaders said, adding that “it is now public knowledge that Christians of Muslim background have also been targeted and have been dispossessed of their properties and their spouses.”

“We once again regret that despite repeated rhetoric about freedom of religion and the protection of the minorities in the Republic of Sudan, the government policy seems to be bent on threatening and discriminating against Christians in Khartoum. By protecting religious fundamentalists who wreck mayhem and havoc on innocent civilians with impunity, the Republic of Sudan undermines the tenets on which a multi-religious society is based.”

The church leaders said they “cannot remain silent while such a horrific violation of human rights and threat to lives continues unabated” and called upon the Islamist National Front government to “fully investigate the motive of these repeated incidents and apprehend those responsible for these criminal acts, and to provide adequate and true security to Christians in Sudan.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Foreign Office reports no govt persecution of Christians in the Sudan: The Church of England Newspaper, June 17, 2012 p 5. June 19, 2012

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Bishop Ezekiel Kondo of Khartoum and Archbishop Rowan Williams

The Foreign Office reports there is no evidence of an anti-Christian pogrom being waged by the National Islamic Front government in Khartoum.

In a written statement given in response to a question from the Bishop of Bath and Wells, Foreign Office Minister Lord Howell on 23 May 2012 said “We have no evidence that there is a state orchestrated campaign against Christians. However, recent rhetoric by government leaders on the north-south conflict has led to tension between communities and fear of attacks against South Sudanese in Sudan, many of whom are Christians.”

The government’s view of the conditions in Sudan is at odds with reports from Sudanese Christians and NGOs. Southern Christians living in the North were stripped of their Sudanese citizenship and are being expelled to the South, forcing hundreds of thousands into refugee settlement. In a 12 Oct 2011 speech to university students in Khartoum, President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan stated: “Ninety-eight percent of the people are Muslims and the new constitution will reflect this. The official religion will be Islam and Islamic law the main source [of the constitution]. We call it a Muslim state.”

Last year Bishop Ezekiel Kondo of Khartoum reported that in his home province, South Kordifan, now on the Khartoum government’s side of the border between North and South, the Islamist government was engaged in the religious cleansing of the province, driving Christian Nuba across the border and burning the region’s principle town of Abyei.

The violence prompted a statement from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams. “Numerous villages have been bombed. More than 53,000 people have been driven from their homes. The new Anglican cathedral in Kadugli has been burned down,” Dr. Williams reported, adding that “many brutal killings are being reported.”

However in his statement to Parliament last month, the minister said the British government was “very concerned by a recent attack on a church in Khartoum, although there was no evidence of state involvement. We welcome the announcement from the Ministry of Religious Guidance and Endowments of an investigation into the incident and urge them to ensure this enquiry is thorough, independent and timely. We continue to remind the Government of Sudan of their obligation to protect all of their civilians, including those in religious groups.”

In response to a second question from Bishop Peter Prince concerning the disputed border provinces, Lord Howell said the British government had pressed both sides to come to the negotiating table.

“We are also encouraging the Government in Sudan to put in place a political process of constitutional reform that will address the needs and views of all its people, including those in the conflict affected states of Southern Kordofan, Blue Nile and Abyei,” Lord Howell said.

In May 2011, the Sudanese army occupied Abyei following a three-day clash with South Sudanese troops. Christian Solidarity Worldwide reported that a dispute over who could vote in the independence referendum in the state led to the clashes. Sudan had argued that the Miseriya, a nomadic northern tribe that roam into Abyei in order to feed and water their livestock, should be included in the referendum, while South Sudan maintained that only the Ngok Dinka people who reside in Abyei should participate.

After the Sudanese Army entered the province, approximately 130,000 Ngok Dinka residents were displaced to the south and forced to seek assistance from aid agencies. Last week Sudan agreed to honour UN Security Council Resolution 2046 and pulled its troops out of Abyei.

CSW’s Advocacy Director Andrew Johnston said his organization welcomed the troop withdrawal. But the resumption of peace talks “must not be allowed to obscure the Sudanese government’s responsibility for the creation of humanitarian crises not only in Abyei, but also in Darfur and most recently, in the Nuba Mountains, where access is being denied to a civilian population that is deliberately targeted by the military and faces imminent starvation.”

Lord Howell told Parliament the UK has worked hard to “ensure United Nations Security Council Resolution 2046, which supports the roadmap, dealt with Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile State under a Chapter VII mandate.”

“We continue to remind the Government of Sudan of their obligation to protect civilians and allow humanitarian access to both states. I welcomed the news that South Sudan have withdrawn their remaining security forces from Abyei on 11 May, and we now urge the Sudanese security forces to do the same,” the minister said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Bishops plea for peace in the Sudan: The Church of England Newspaper, May 20, 2012 p 6. May 28, 2012

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The Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops of South Sudan, joined by the Archbishop of York, have issued a statement saying they “stand committed” to stop the outbreak of fighting between Sudan and South Sudan.

On 2 May 2012 the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution demanding that the two countries cease hostilities within 48 hours and return to the negotiations put forward by the African Union.  The National Islamic Front government in Khartoum and SPLM government in Juba agreed to return to the negotiating table in Addis Abba, but on 3 May the Sudanese air force bombed troop positions in South Sudan and fighting continues across the disputed border regions.

The situation along the border is grim, the Bishop of Aweil reported in a letter posted on the website of the Diocese of Salisbury.

‘The war is back to us,” the bishop wrote and “many people are killed, wounded, displaced and their properties are looted or destroyed by the soldiers from Sudan government leaving them in horrible situation. As I write this letter many of displaced people go to bed everyday without food even one meal in a day is not there, leave alone shelters to protect them from the rains and no clothing to cover their skinny bodies. The displaced persons have experienced great trauma and great suffering now more than ever because no one was affecting war again soon,” Bishop Abraham Nhial wrote.

Meeting form 9 to 11 May in Yei in South Sudan, the country’s Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops pleaded for peace. “We dream of two nations which are democratic and free, where people of all religions, all ethnic groups, all cultures and all languages enjoy equal human rights based on citizenship.”

“Enough is enough. There should be no more war between Sudan and South Sudan,” the bishops said in their communiqué.

The bishops said they stood “committed to do all in our power to make our dream a reality. We believe that the people and government of South Sudan desperately want peace. We believe the same is true of the people and their liberation movements in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile.”

However “a lasting peace will come unless all parties act in good faith. Trust must be built, and this involves honesty, however painful that may be. We invite the International Community to walk with us on the painful journey of exploring the truth in competing claims and counter-claims, allegations and counter-allegations. We invite them to understand the peaceful aspirations of the ordinary people, and to reflect that in their statements and actions.”

In a statement released on 24 April 2012, Archbishop Daniel Deng said that war was not the answer.  “We should learn from the 55 years of war not to return to it so hastily. The blood of those who fought for peace should not have been poured in vain. We call on all sides to exercise restraint and pursue peace at all costs. God is on the side of those who seek peace.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

A New York Times puff piece on the Sudan: Get Religion, January 2, 2012 January 2, 2012

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Archbishop Daniel Deng

I have mixed emotions about focusing the critical spotlight on this New York Times story about the plight of Christians in the Sudan. I am pleased that a story that speaks to the state sponsored persecution of Christians made it into the paper’s pages, yet I would have wished they had fact checked their story.

What we have in the 23 Dec 2011 article entitled “Fewer to Celebrate Christmas in Sudan After South’s Split” is an example of the good quotes/bad facts phenomena — where an article has great color quotes but the facts and context to support the quotes are either incorrect or missing.

Because this is the Sudan, the assertions made by the Times take on a deeper significance. Is theTimes guilty of sloppy reporting or are they acting as a shill (wittingly or unwittingly) for the National Islamic Front of President Omar al-Bashir? Let’s take a look.

The article begins with a snapshot of Khartoum’s Christian leaders on eve of Christmas. It begins with the camera focusing on a sparse living room, itemizing the objects to establish a Christian focus for the article.

Hanging from the wall of Bishop Ezekiel Kondo’s living room — a few blocks from a silver-coated dome marking the tomb of Sudan’s 19th-century Muslim leader, the Mahdi — are a cross, pictures of fellow clergy members and a photo of him with the former archbishop of Canterbury above a small plastic Christmas tree.

A nice word picture — but should not archbishop have been capitalized like the Mahdi in the previous line? The Archbishop of Canterbury not the archbishop of Canterbury. Is this a hint of things to come? The story continues.

Much has changed for Bishop Kondo, and for the nation, since the holidays last year. Though he presides over one of Sudan’s largest churches, he is more in the minority than ever. South Sudan, with its large Christian population, became an independent nation over the summer, making for a Christmas of mixed emotions.

“This Christmas, since Southern Sudanese have gone, we don’t know what the attendance will be, but I would say people will celebrate with mixed feeling of joy and fear,” said Bishop Kondo, who is the bishop of the Episcopal Church of Sudan and the former chairman of the Sudanese Council of Churches.

South Sudanese voted overwhelmingly in a referendum early this year to separate from Sudan, the culmination of a peace accord to end decades of war and hostilities with the largely Muslim north. But while South Sudanese Christians constituted the majority of what was the Sudanese Christian community, they are not all of them.

“There is an idea that Southern Sudanese have gone, therefore, the church has gone. That is not true,” Bishop Kondo said. “Sometimes, I am asked, ‘When will you go to South Sudan?’ ‘But I’m not from the south,’ I reply!” he said.

Bishop Kondo is from South Kordofan, a state dominated by ethnic Nuba, who are divided between Islam, Christianity and African traditional religions. Fighting erupted there last May between government forces and rebels allied with the party that now governs South Sudan. …

The scene is set these paragraphs. The predominantly Christian South has seceded from the predominantly Muslim North. Bishop Kondo leads a church in the North that in the wake of independence will now be smaller, but Christians remain in the North.

The article offers voices of other Christian leaders that speak to the difficulties they face, and then Bishop Kondo returns to center stage.

While concerns weigh heavily on the minds of many Sudanese Christian leaders, Bishop Kondo pointed out that Sudanese government officials had expressed a keenness to work with them.

“The Ministry of Religious Guidance and Endowments have approached us to know what the timetable of services and celebrations are this Christmas, to come and congratulate, but to also make sure people celebrate peacefully,” he said. “I think this is a good gesture.”

“Well and good”, you might say. A nice little story about the Christian minority in a Muslim country trying to make the best of a difficult situation. “What is the problem?”, you might ask. Why is this a dreadful article?

President Omar al-Bashir

For starters, Bishop Kondo is not the head of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan. Bishop Kondo is Bishop of Khartoum, one of 31 dioceses of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan. The head of the 4 to 5 million member church that spans North and South Sudan is Dr. Daniel Deng, Archbishop of Juba.

On one level this is not a fatal flaw. Adjusting Bishop Kondo’s title does not change the story arc of Khartoum’s vanishing Christians this Christmas. However, is something else going on?

The Khartoum government has sought to divide the Anglican Church in the past — and at one point appointed an Anglican bishop to be deputy minister of foreign affairs. The government then helped this bishop, Gabriel Ruric Jur, to form a rival Anglican church and seized Khartoum’s cathedral from Bishop Kondo to give to their bishop. Bishop Jur, in turn, endorsed the establishment of Sharia Law in Khartoum for all Sudanese citizens — Muslim and Christian.

The Episcopal Church of the Sudan has also refused to divide now that the country is divided, even though the Khartoum government has pushed for church split. Why I raise all of this intra-Anglican detail, is that a Sudanese Anglican reading this story would see in this mistake the spectre of government interference in the church once again. Is the New York Times backing Khartoum’s line, making Bishop Kondo head of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan (North). Or, is it  simply ignorance on the part of the New York Times.

The story also fails is in not developing the issue of “Where did all the Christians go?” The article notes that “the larger group of worshipers, administrators and teachers” of one church have moved to South Sudan.  It also states the Sudanese government claims that only three percent of the population is Christian. Bishop Kondo disputes that figure, saying it is closer to 10 to 15 per cent. That should give you a clue that there is story beneath this story.

What is missing from this story is the crucial bit of information about the government of President Omar al-Bashir’s attitude towards Sudan’s Christians.

In a 12 Oct 2011 speech to university students in Khartoum, President al-Bashir stated: “Ninety-eight percent of the people are Muslims and the new constitution will reflect this. The official religion will be Islam and Islamic law the main source [of the constitution]. We call it a Muslim state.”

When I reported on this issue for the Church of England Newspaper, one South Sudan bishop told me that he believed this meant that it was President al-Bashir’s goal for Sudan to be only two percent Christian. Is that a fact? No, it is a view by an admitted partisan in the affair. However, as Reuters has pointed out, South Sudanese living in the North have been denied citizenship and must petition the government for citizenship or leave the country.

Bishop Ezekiel Kondo and Archbishop Rowan Williams in Jamaica

In Bishop Kondo’s home province, South Kordifan, now on the Khartoum government’s side of the border between North and South, the Islamist government of President al-Bashir has been denounced for engaging in ethnic cleansing, driving Christian Nuba across the border and burning the region’s principle town of Abyei.

The violence prompted a statement from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams. “Numerous villages have been bombed. More than 53,000 people have been driven from their homes. The new Anglican cathedral in Kadugli has been burned down,” Dr. Williams reported, adding that the region had also been “overrun by the army, and heavy force is being used by government troops to subdue militias in the area, with dire results for local people. Many brutal killings are being reported.”

The archbishop’s complaints are not likely to deter President al-Bashir.  The International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2009 issued a warrant for the arrest of the Sudanese president on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. In 2008 the ICC’s chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo of Argentina, accused Bashir of directing a campaign of mass murder that has left more than 300,000 civilians dead and driven more than 2.7 million from their homes in Darfur. President al-Bashir was the first sitting head of state to be charged by the Hague-based court with war crimes, and the first Arab leader to face the prospect of being tried for atrocities by an international tribunal.

All of this has been treated extensively by Catholic and Anglican news agencies but this background information is missing from this New York Times story. And its absence means the article fails the criteria of good journalism.

First published in GetReligion.

Sudan breaks with the Episcopal Church: The Church of England Newspaper, December 23, 2011 p 6. December 26, 2011

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First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The American Episcopal Church’s support for gay bishops and blessings has led the Episcopal Church of the Sudan (ECS) to ban Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori from visiting the church.  The dis-invitation to Bishop Jefferts Schori follows a vote by the ECS House of Bishops last month to swap its recognition of the Episcopal Church for the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) as the legitimate expression of Anglicanism in the United States.

In a letter dated 15 December 2011, Archbishop Daniel Deng, writing on behalf of the House of Bishops stated that while the ECS acknowledged Bishop Jefferts Schori’s “personal efforts” to support the ECS, “it remains difficult for us to invite you when elements of your church continue to flagrantly disregard biblical teaching on human sexuality.”

At the 14-16 November 2011 meeting of the ECS General Synod, the church’s House of Bishops adopted a statement reaffirming the stance taken at the 2008 Lambeth Conference which rejected “homosexual practice as contrary to Biblical teaching and can accept no place for it within ECS.”

The bishops said they were “deeply disappointed” by the Episcopal Church’s rejection of the counsel of the wider Anglican Communion on these issues, and for its consecration of a second “gay” bishop, the Rt. Rev. Mary Glasspool, Suffragan Bishop of Los Angeles.

“We are not happy” with the Episcopal Church’s “acts of continuing ordaining homosexuals and lesbians as priests and bishops as well as blessing same sex relations in the church by some dioceses in TEC; it has pushed itself away from God’s Word and from Anglican Communion. TEC is not concerned for the unity of the Communion.”

As such, the ECS had no choice but to recognize the ACNA as a “true faithful orthodox Church.”  While breaking with the Episcopal Church as a national institution, the ECS said it would continue to “work with those parishes and dioceses in TEC who are Evangelical orthodox churches and faithful to God.”

The break with the Episcopal Church over its stance on human sexuality by the Sudanese church follows the 2009 expulsion of an American missionary, a lecturer at a theological college in Renk, who had claimed the ECS was not opposed to the innovations of doctrine and discipline of the Episcopal Church.  The Sudanese House of Bishops has consistently rejected gay bishops and blessings, and at the 2008 Lambeth Conference Archbishop Deng called upon New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson to resign.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 22, December 22, 2011 December 22, 2011

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This last week of Advent Kevin and George bring news from Sudan, North Korea and Pittsburgh. Allan Haley brings good news from Quincy in our legal segment, And, Episode 22 includes some videos to bring a little perspective to Christmas.

Sudan Synod plea to stop the fighting: The Church of England Newspaper, December 11, 2011, p 6. December 13, 2011

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First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The General Synod of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan (ECS) has called for an end to the government campaign of terror waged against civilians.

Meeting at All Saints Cathedral in Juba from 13-16 November 2011, the ECS Ninth General Synod denounced the war along the border between north and south Sudan as well as the guerrilla war waged by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) of Joseph Kony in the country’s Western Equatoria State along the border with Uganda, the Congo and the Central African Republic.

“We strongly condemn the persistent aerial bombardment of civilian territories, summary executions of innocents, and combat in civilian areas” in the border regions, the 16 November statement said.

“The bombs that fall are indiscriminate; they kill and maim young and old, man and woman, Christian and Muslim. In short, innocent civilians have become a target and their suffering has become political currency” in the hands of the government of President Omar al-Bashir and his Islamist-backed National Congress Party in Khartoum.

The ECS “categorically” denounced these “crimes against humanity” and called for the governments in Juba and Khartoum to “return to the negotiating table and discuss national issues in a way amenable to peace and stability. We urge both governments to resolve any differences peacefully and not to resort to war and killing of the innocent civilians who yearn for peace.”

The Church also called attention to the ravages of the LRA. Driven from their bases in Uganda, the LRA has retreated into the bush terrorizing villagers in the Sudan. The “cancer of Western Equatoria State, namely the Lord’s Resistance Army, persists and requires immediate and committed international mediation for the most equitable solution for peace.”

The Church called for “peaceful methods of engagement” to be used to end the fighting – which has seen the deployment of 100 US soldiers to Uganda to coordinate operations against the rebels.

While the Sudan had been divided into two countries — north and south – the ECS would remain one and continue to work for peace, the statement said.

“In the area of advocacy for peace and reconciliation, the ECS will remain committed to its national and international partners but particularly to the Government of South Sudan, the relevant state governments and the United Nations in order to collectively implement a peace process throughout Sudan and South Sudan.”

It pledged to continue to “proclaim the gospel” and “continue its efforts of high-level political and grassroots evangelisation in order to reach all the communities of the Sudan and South Sudan. The ECS will also continue to adhere to the traditions of the Anglican Communion through use of the Prayer Book and training to new and existing pastors on the meaning of Anglicanism.”

Sharia law for the Sudan: The Church of England Newspaper, Oct 28, 2011 November 1, 2011

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First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir has announced that the Sudan will become Africa’s first theocracy and will give state sanction to Sharia law.

In a 12 Oct 2011 speech to university students in Khartoum, President al-Bashir stated: “Ninety-eight percent of the people are Muslims and the new constitution will reflect this. The official religion will be Islam and Islamic law the main source [of the constitution]. We call it a Muslim state.”

Sudan’s Churches have disputed the president’s claim of a near uniform Muslim population, noting that over a million Christians reside in the North. However, their complaints are not likely to deter President al-Bashir.  The International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2009 issued a warrant for the arrest of the Sudanese president on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sudan’s Darfur region.  President al-Bashir was the first sitting head of state to be charged by the Hague-based court with war crimes, and the first Arab leader to face the prospect of being tried for atrocities by an international tribunal.

In 2008 the ICC’s chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo of Argentina, accused Bashir of directing a campaign of mass murder that has left more than 300,000 civilians dead and driven more than 2.7 million from their homes in Darfur.

International condemnation has not halted al-Bashir and his government is currently being courted by rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran.  Saudi Arabia and Sudan have signed an agreement to mine the bed of the Red Sea—with the kingdom providing the financing for the project and royalties shared between the two states.  Last week Iran’s President Ahmadinejad travelled to Khartoum and gave his country’s support to the embattled president.

While Sudan is overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim, with only a small Shia presence in Khartoum, the government of President al-Bashir has adopted a pan-Muslim domestic policy.  Christians and animists have been the target of the regime’s ire.

Migrants from the southern half of the country before partition this year, Southerners are considered foreigners under laws introduced by President al-Bashir’s government, and have until the Spring of 2012 to obtain residency papers or leave the country.

Along Sudan’s unsettled border with South Sudan in South Kordufan State, Nuba Christians are being driven from their homes by government forces and have been forced to flee south for safety.

Sudanese newspapers report that the Khartoum government has begun the process of Islamisation in the North as well.  Three churches in Omdurman, Khartoum’s sister city across the Nile, have been notified that the land upon which they were built is owned by the government.  The churches have protested this claim and offered title deeds in support of their ownership, but the government has slated the buildings for demolition.

The Barnabas Fund has reported the government has increased “threats and pressure on churches.”  Some pastors “have been warned not to conduct church services, on pain of death, while some churches are closing their schools and considering emigration to the South.”

“The future for non-Muslims and non-Arabs in Sudan is looking increasingly untenable, threatening the very existence of the Church there,” the Barnabas Fund said.

Anglican Unscripted: October 17, 2011 October 18, 2011

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http://blip.tv/play/g5IjgtjoSgI.htmlhttp://a.blip.tv/api.swf#g5IjgtjoSgI
Kevin and George both seem to be qualified to perform the Sacrament of the Eucharist under new rules readopted by the diocese of Sydney. Meanwhile the Archbishop of Canterbury had a very successful visit to Zimbabwe and our hosts tip their hats to the new and improved head of the communion. Almost predictably, Allan Haley builds a defense for the Diocese of South Carolina while stacking the deck against the most arrogant Presiding Bishop to serve in North America. Kevin also interviews Bishop Abraham Neal (formally one of the Lost Boys) of the Province of Sudan.

Sudanese bishop seeks asylum in the US: The Church of England Newspaper, Sept 9, 2011 p 8. September 14, 2011

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Bishop Andudu Adam Elnail at the UN

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Bishop of Kadugli in Sudan’s South Kordofan province has applied for political asylum in the United States.

The Rt Rev Andudu Adam Elnail’s application for sanctuary comes amidst a renewed outbreak of fighting on the border between North and South Sudan. On 5 September, the IRIN news agency reported that fighting had broken out between troops of the Khartoum government’s Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) in the Blue Nile state bordering South Sudan and Ethiopia.

An estimated 20,000 refugees have crossed into Ethiopia, the UN reports, with more taking refuge in the countryside. Formed as the northern branch of South Sudan’s ruling political party, the SPLM-N took control of the Blue Nile State with the election of Malik Aggar as governor. However, Aggar, a former military commander in the SPLM’s armed wing during the 1983-2005 civil war, has since been removed from office by the Khartoum government.

IRIN reports that on 4 September, Khartoum’s ruling National Congress Party banned the SPLM-N and arrested many of its members. SAF spokesman Al-Sawarmi Khalid Sa’ad called Aggar a “rebel” and claimed the SPLM-N had been planning attacks on SAF bases.

In the neighbouring state of South Kordofan, where the SAF and SPLM-N have been at war since June, almost 200,000 people have been forced from their homes. On 30 August, Valerie Amos, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, said “unless there is an immediate stop to the fighting, and humanitarian organizations are granted immediate and unhindered independent access throughout South Kordofan, people in many parts of the state face potentially catastrophic levels of malnutrition and mortality.”

In an open letter published in the Huffington Post, Bishop Elnail’s US attorney said the Khartoum government was waging a war of extermination against the Nuba people of South Kordofan.

“Khartoum historically discriminated against the Nuba, prompting them to align with Southerners and their revolutionary party, the [SPLM], during Sudan’s civil war. Under the January 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the Nuba were promised a free election, followed by a consultation with their elected leaders. This was supposed to be a channel for them to raise grievances and discuss their political future.

“After years of delay, South Kordofan’s gubernatorial election was held in May amid political tensions between the NCP and SPLM.

“Violence quickly erupted. Soon the UN mission reported that the NCP’s military wing had committed major human rights atrocities against the Nuba, including targeted killings, attacks on churches and dwellings and indiscriminate aerial bombardments.”

Bishop Elnail and other Nuba leaders sympathetic to the SPLM have been targeted for death by the Khartoum government, said his attorney Arjun Sethi.

Archbishop backs a secular South Sudan: The Church of England Newspaper, Aug 26, 2011 p 7. August 30, 2011

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Archbishop Daniel Deng

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Primate of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan has called upon Muslim leaders in South Sudan to set aside sectarian concerns and work towards building a free and tolerant nation.

Speaking at a dinner held by President Salva Kiir of South Sudan at the State House in Juba on 20 August for Muslim leaders in Africa’s newest nation, Archbishop Daniel Deng called upon Christians and Muslims to work together for the common good.

Fighting between the Arab Muslim north and the African Christian/animist south has been constant since Sudan gained its independence in 1956. Two civil wars left millions dead and displaced in the south, but culminated in a 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement which led to the Republic of South Sudan’s independence on 9 July, 2011.

A major source of dissension between North and South during the civil war had been the imposition of Sharia law upon the south by the Khartoum government. The new republic has adopted a secular constitution and civil code, removing Islam from its court system.

In his keynote address, Archbishop Deng called upon President Kiir to create a national religious council which would facilitate dialogue and foster cooperation between the faiths. Interfaith dialogue would also serve to stabilise the new nation, removing religious passions from the political sphere.

President Kiir called for the South Sudanese Muslim community to organize themselves in the wake of the break with Khartoum, and to build relations with the Christian majority.

“Here in South Sudan there is no difference between Christians and Muslims. In our new nation we need unity and development; we have not left you (Muslims) out,” President Kiir said, according to an extract of his speech printed in the Sudan Times.

“Discrimination, marginalisation and many things happened during the war, but it will not happen again in the new South Sudan, whether you are red, white or black, this is our country, you cannot discriminate against me because of my colour. Any South Sudanese has the right to stay here,” the President said.

He also gave his “blessings for the establishment of the South Sudan Religion Council” as proposed by Archbishop Deng, saying he welcomed such a move.

The President also disputed a claim made by the Akhir Lahza newspaper in Khartoum that had been reprinted across the region that claimed that a son by his fourth wife, John Salva Kiir, had converted to Islam on Independence Day. President Kiir noted this was untrue as he has had neither a fourth wife nor a son called John.

Sudan guilty of ‘ethnic cleansing’, bishop tells Congress: The Church of England Newspaper, Aug 12, 2011 p 7. August 17, 2011

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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Bishop of Kadugli has appealed to the United Nations to send a fact-finding mission to Sudan’s Southern Kordufan State to investigate war crimes committed by the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) against residents of the border region.

Speaking in New York on 5 August, the Rt Rev Andudu Adam Elnail reported that his offices had been burned and his house sprayed with bullets. “Many people have been killed. They are culling people from house-to-house,” killing Christians, supporters of the new South Sudan government and members of the Nuba tribe.

The Bishop said he had also heard reports of mass graves in Kadugli as well. “There is a lot of killing going on and we consider this is ethnic cleansing, so that is why we are calling on the UN and the Security Council to consider what is going on in Sudan,” the Bishop said.

The previous day Bishop Elnail testified before a congressional hearing in Washington investigating the violence in South Kordofan. “The Nuba people fear that we will be forgotten, that the world will stand idly by while mass killings continue without redress,” Bishop Elnail told the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights.

“Our hope,” Bishop Elnail said, “is that the United States will lead the international community in taking prompt, effective action to protect tens of thousands of displaced people, including an untold number of civilians being killed house-to-house and bombed by their own government.”

“I hear almost every day new reports from the Nuba Mountains of the Sudan Armed Forces indiscriminately bombing civilians, including children and women and old people, in places not known to be near military installations. I see photos of the people maimed and killed in these bombing raids,” the Bishop said.

“To me, these people are not numbers and statistics. They are my neighbours, my friends, local business leaders, and members of my congregation.”

Lying along the border between North and South Sudan, the oil-rich region of South Kordofan lost almost half its population, an estimated 500,000 people, during the second Sudan civil war of 1990-2005. Promises by the Khartoum government to permit a referendum on whether the region would join South Sudan or remain under the control of the Khartoum government have not been honoured.

Brad Phillips, Sudan country director for Voice of the Martyrs, said the Khartoum government was seeking to “Arabize” the region — killing or expelling the Nuba from their ancestral homes.

Bishop Elnail urged the US government to use its influence to stop the depredations of the Khartoum regime.

“The United States cannot begin to consider normalizing ties with Sudan, and should not de-list Sudan as a sponsor of terrorism or approve this outlaw nation’s access to international financing and debt relief,” the Bishop told Congress. “Those individuals and groups most responsible for the mass atrocities should be designated and sanctioned.”

Episcopal Church of the Sudan issues independence day manifesto, The Church of England Newspaper, July 29, 2011 p 5. August 2, 2011

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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Episcopal Church of the Sudan has pledged its support to the fledgling Republic of South Sudan, offering its assistance in building the civil institutions necessary for the success of the world’s newest independent state.

On 9 July the House of Bishops of the country’s largest Church released a pastoral letter congratulating the South Sudan government on achieving independence. “We now have a real government,” the bishops said, noting these were “great achievements which must be recognized, celebrated and guarded carefully.”

Independence was not a panacea, however, for all ills. Border disputes with the Khartoum government remain a flashpoint for conflict, while the Lords Resistance Army’s depredations continue in the southwest.

The bishops identified three areas of particular concern for the new country: “Achieving peace and non-violence; Promoting unity by reducing tribalism; and Promoting equitable development through effective decentralisation.”

The first step in building peace was for those “who have taken up arms” to lay down their weapons and “join in the building of the newborn nation.” The second step was to foster respect for the rule of law and equality before the law.

The Church would do its part towards working for “greater justice, peace and reconciliation in South Sudan” by bringing its national presence to the table to help mediate conflicts between the various militia groups and “promote non-violence and peace at community level through its pastoral role in trauma counselling, local-level mediation and the promotion of the Ten Commandments to discourage factionalism and the formation of civil mercenary groups.”

The Church would also do its part to end the curse of tribalism.

“Corruption and nepotism give birth to tribalism. Corruption is more than bribery or embezzlement of funds; it includes abuse of power or authority for private gain. The appointment of people to positions based on family or clan or other ties is also corruption. These trends work against unity and undermine the tenets of the Constitution. We believe that appointments to all positions should be based on merit. Similarly, the misuse or theft of public or church money is also corruption. Fraud, that is the illegal acquisition of money, goods or services, is also considered as corruption. We call on Sudanese people to reject tribalism, nepotism and corruption.”

The Church would also do its part to “fight against poverty, ignorance and disease. We will work with the Government in the provision of services that contribute to fighting and eradicating the above vices.”

However, the bishops encouraged the government to set in place an “economic system that is based on equity which means a fair system that provides equal opportunity for all and protects the poor from being manipulated or exploited by the rich. Enabling the full, equitable and integral development of all our people will be the final proof of value of independence.

“We are all responsible for ensuring that the new Republic of South Sudan is built on a strong foundation,” the bishops said. “If we strive in earnest to adhere to the principle of the Body of Christ, no one and nothing can hold back or hinder the people of the Republic of South Sudan again.”

Sudan ablaze, diocese reports: The Church of England Newspaper, June 24, 2011 p 9. June 29, 2011

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Sudan Archbishop Daniel Deng and Bishop Abraham Nhial of Aweil in 2009

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Soldiers loyal to the Islamist government in Khartoum have burned the town of Abyei in Sudan’s South Kordofan state, driving its inhabitants into the bush at the height of the rainy season.

In an email sent to the Anglican Church in North America, the secretary of the Diocese of Aweil, the Rev Stephen Muo on 17 June reported the “whole town was completely set on fire.”

“All the civilians are now down on the streets and in bushes, with no food, no shelters, no water and no medical assistant. [The] majority are still under the trees with children, sick people and elderly people. Aweil Diocese is left with no choice but raise the voice of voiceless for relief assistant,” Mr Muo said.

Fighting erupted last month after northern troops loyal to Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir wrested control of the town of Abyei from troops of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) of southern leader Salva Kiir. The battle has spread across the surrounding South Kordofan State and forced tens of thousands of civilians to flee south from the fighting.

The BBC reported on 14 June that Mr Bashir and Mr Kiir had agreed to a deal brokered by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former South African President Thabo Mbeki and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to pull their troops back from the disputed region. The deal will also see Ethiopian troops under UN command deployed to Abyei, which will become a demilitarised zone, to help mediate the deal.

However, heavy fighting is continuing across South Kordofan state.

Last week Dr Rowan Williams released a statement deploring the “mounting level of aggression and bloodshed” in South Sudan.

“Numerous villages have been bombed. More than 53,000 people have been driven from their homes. The new Anglican cathedral in Kadugli has been burned down,” the Archbishop reported, adding Kadugli had also been “overrun by the army, and heavy force is being used by government troops to subdue militias in the area, with dire results for local people. Many brutal killings are being reported.”

Dr Williams urged a multi-national response to the crisis and urged Prime Minister David Cameron’s government “which has declared its commitment to a peaceful future for Sudan,” to “play an important part” in ending the conflict.

The Diocese of Aweil has asked for “for urgent support for the civilians who are now lying on the ground without medical attention, shelters, food and water.”

Bishop Abraham Nhial of Aweil asked Christians to “remember in your prayers and advocacy for our brothers and sisters of Abyei who are still missing, those in the bush, and those on the streets in Southern Sudan towns. As always, your prayers are needed for the people of Abyei and the world.”

Ghost marriages split Sudanese diocese: The Church of England Newspaper, June 24, 2011 p 9. June 27, 2011

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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Tribal jealousies and theological tensions have split the Episcopal Church of the Sudan’s Diocese of Bor.  On June 13, the day after Archbishop Daniel Deng consecrated Bishop Ruben Akurdit Ngong, supporters of his defeated rival in the May 14 election announced they were quitting the Episcopal Church to form the Lutheran Church of Sudan.

In a letter given to the new bishop, five dissident clergymen protested the lack of spiritual and physical development in the diocese.  The five also denounced the diocese’s toleration of “Ghost marriages”, saying the Nuer tribal custom was incompatible with Christian teaching.

A form of levirate marriage, Ghost marriages among the Nuer tribe occur when a married male dies before he is able to produce a son.  Tribal custom dictates that an unmarried male relative of the deceased stand in as husband until a male heir is born.  No formal marriage ceremony is contracted, and the dead husband continues to be regarded as the head of the family—and any issue from the ghost marriage are recognized as being the children of the deceased.

 

Once a male heir is born, the ghost marriage ends and the man is freed to start his own family—but remains obligated to provide for the deceased’s family.

 

Anthropologists believe the custom serves economic and religious ends for Nuer.  The dead man’s wealth remain within his own family and his widow is protected from economic hardship.

The Nuer also believe that unless a man produces a male heir, his ghost will haunt his family bringing misfortune if no son was produced in his name.

The Episcopal Church of the Sudan has seen several schisms over the past 25 years.   In 1986 the first Primate of the Sudan, Archbishop Elinana Ja’bi Ngalamu, refused to step down when he reached the age of mandatory retirement.  The House of Bishops subsequently elected a new primate, Archbishop Benjamin Wani Yugusuk, but quickly split with bishops dividing on tribal lines in support of the two primates.

Archbishop George Carey was able to resolve the schism in 1992 and reconcile the two factions.  However, in December 2003, two deposed bishops led by the former Bishop of Rumbeck, the Rt. Rev. Gabriel Roric Jur formed the Reformed Episcopal Church of the Sudan (RECS).  In 2004 the RECS split and five of its bishops led by Bishop John Machar Thon of Duk Diocese formed the Anglican Church of the Sudan (ACS).

A further schism within the ACS occurred when the ACS Bishop of Rumbek Abraham Mayom Athian broke away to form his own Anglican Church of Sudan in Rumbek.  The newly styled Archbishop Mayon has consecrated at least ten bishops for his church, sources in Sudan tell The Church of England Newspaper.

This month’s schism in Bor is notable in that instead of forming a fifth Anglican Church in South Sudan, the dissidents are forming the country’s first Lutheran Church.

Church call for ceasefire in the Sudan: The Church of England Newspaper, June 10, 2011 p 7. June 15, 2011

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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Anglican and Catholic leaders in the Sudan have called for an immediate ceasefire in the disputed Abyei region, after clashes between troops of the Khartoum government and the nascent South Sudan regime erupted last month.

On 21 May, the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) under the control of the Khartoum government seized Abyei town in South Central Sudan from the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).  The UN’s World Food Programme reports tens of thousands of refugees have fled the fighting.

The International Organization for Migration told the IRIN news service the extent of the crisis is unclear.  “Tracking and assessing the displaced population has been difficult because many people are still on the move or are hiding in the bush. The continued heavy rainfall has made some roads impassable and this has impeded access to areas where IDPs may be sheltering.”

The oil-rich Abyei region straddles the border between Sudan and the newly independent South Sudan.  A referendum to determine the state’s permanent status has been delayed, causing friction between North and South.

On May 31, the Anglican Primate of the Sudan, Archbishop Daniel Deng of Juba, and the Roman Catholic Metropolitan of South Sudan, Archbishop Paolino Lukudu Loro released a statement or regret that the “region of Abyei is back to war. On behalf of all the Christians across the country, we categorically denounce the recent fighting that took place in Abyei town, as thousands of men, women and children were forced again to a mass exodus as witnessed during the decade-long civil war.

“These same civilians have been displaced several times because of belligerence between” the SAF and SPLA, the statement said, adding that while political difficulties over the future of the region remained, there was “no excuse for endangering the lives of innocent people, mindless destruction of homes and livelihoods.”

“As the Church, through the voice of God and moral conscience of the nation, we are very concerned about the violence which has claimed many innocent lives in Abyei and rendered many people homeless at the time when the hope of our people is growing high for the independence and the birth of our God given nation,” they said.

“We call for immediate action” to “break the deadlock and to initiate negotiations and peace talks once again,” the archbishops said.

Episcopal elections in the Sudan: The Church of England Newspaper, June 3, 2011 p 8. June 6, 2011

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Bishop-elect Stephen Dokolo of Lui

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

A special meeting of the Synod of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan has elected bishops for the Dioceses of Lui and Bor.  At the May 14 meeting at All Saints Cathedral in Juba, the Rev. Ruben Akurdit Ngong was elected Bishop of Bor, and the Rev. Stephen Dokolo was elected as Bishop of Lui.

Under the canons of the ECS, each of the church’s 32 dioceses sends a lay, clergy and episcopal delegate to the election, while the diocese under consideration is allotted 10 delegates—three clergy, three lay and four diocesan officers.

Bishop-elect Ngong was born in May 1956 in Palek Village, Bor County and is married to Rachael Nyaluak, and they have four children.  He was educated at Bishop Gwynne College, Uganda Makarere University and Nairobi Pan Africa Christian College and is currently the Provost of Bor Cathedral.

Bishop-elect Dokolo is a graduate of  Eden Theological Seminary in the United States, and has served as Lui Diocesan Secretary for the past two years.  His consecration has been scheduled for June 26 in Lui.

Independence will not divide the Sudanese church, bishops say: The Church of England Newspaper, March 4, 2011 p 7. March 5, 2011

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Archbishop Deng greeting former US President Jimmy Carter at a polling station in Juba on Jan 9.

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

A divided nation will not lead to a divided church, the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan said last month in a statement released at the close of their Feb 11-12 meeting in Juba.

Official results of Southern Sudan’s January independence referendum showed that 98.83 per cent of the South voted for secession from the Khartoum government.  The vote means that Africa’s newest nation will receive its formal independence on July 9, 2011.  However, key issues remain unresolved, and must be negotiated between the north’s National Congress Party (NCP) and the south’s Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM).

In their first meeting since the independence vote, the Sudanese Bishops outlined the challenges facing the two nations and their church.  South Sudan risked becoming a “failed state,” the bishops said, unless reforms promoting free markets and open government were implemented, and the border disputes with the north were settled.

They also assured Sudanese Anglicans they would “remain as one united church.”

“The church is one body; God has no borders. We will not abandon each other regardless of the political geographical boundaries,” the bishops said.

The bishops urged a speedy resolution to the disputes over the contested border region of Abyei, which was to have participated in the January referendum.  However, voting was suspended after negotiations broke down over who would be entitled to vote.   The northern-backed Misseriya community, pastoralists who travel through the region annually to graze their cattle, had demanded the right to vote in Abyei.  However, the local Dinka Ngok people—supporters of southern independence—rejected the demand, saying only permanent residents should be allowed to vote.

Two key battleground states in the civil war, Southern Kordofan and the Blue Nile, were not included in the referendum, and incorporated into the north, despite strong local support for the south’s ruling SPLM.  The 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) promised “local consultations” over the future of the region, but like Abyei, negotiations have become bogged down.

The bishops called upon the NCP and SPLM to “expeditiously work” on resolving the border disputes and bring the “popular consultations” to their “logical conclusions,” as well as finding an equitable solution to questions of “citizenship, Sudan’s foreign debt, and oil.”

The allocation of revenues from Sudan’s oil fields has yet to be negotiated.  Over 98 per cent of the south’s government budget is funded by oil revenue and the reserves lie mainly in the south and in the disputed border regions.  However, all of the Sudan’s oil pipelines run north, giving the Khartoum government the power to turn off the south’s income spigot at will.

Sudan’s $38 billion foreign debt, amassed by Khartoum to fund the 1983-2005 civil war, divides north and south.  The north is seeking forgiveness of its debt from international lenders, but no accord has been reached, while southern leaders object to having to pay for the costs of the war waged against them.

The citizenship rights of Sudanese living in the border areas, as well as southerners and northerners living on the wrong side of the demarcation line have yet to be resolved.  Hundreds of thousands of southerners remain in Khartoum, but the north has balked at granting them dual citizenship.  The uncertainty has led to over 180,000 refugees leaving the north in the past three months, the United Nations reports.

They called on “the Sudanese people to reject tribalism, nepotism and corruption,” and urged the appointment of government ministers based on “merit and work ethic” rather than tribe or clan affiliation.

“We pray that Almighty God will help us foster unity, peace and democracy as exhibited by all Sudanese and witnessed by the whole world during this referendum process,” the bishops said.

“We must all embrace the spirit of self-sacrifice, hard work, respect for one another, tolerance, and honesty as we endeavour to build the two new nations,” they said.

Sudanese Christians have the C of E’s ‘absolute’ support: The Church of England Newspaper, Jan 28, 2011 p 6. January 31, 2011

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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Church of England has pledged its full support to the Christians of Sudan, the Second Church Estates Commissioner told Parliament last week.

Speaking in response to a question from the member for Congleton, Fiona Bruce (Cons.), about the degree of support given by the Church Commissioners to the “Christians in Sudan,” Second Church Estates Commissioner Tony Baldry told the House of Commons on Jan 18 the Church of England’s support was through the Episcopal Church of Sudan.

He noted the dioceses of Bradford and Salisbury had companion link relationships with the Sudanese Anglican dioceses and they had “done great work in the region to support the Christian community,” as had Christian Aid.

Ms. Bruce then asked that in light of last week’s independence referendum for Southern Sudan, did the Church Commissioners not agree that the “Christian minorities in the north of Sudan will face continued persecution?”

She asked whether the Church of England would “support and protect Christians and other minorities in the north of Sudan, while also helping, where appropriate, in Southern Sudan?”

“Absolutely,” Mr. Baldry said, noting that “minority groups in northern Sudan have faced persecution, which is one of the many problems facing people in the region.”

The problems facing the South were formidable, he said.  “Most southern Sudanese live on less than $1 a day, the country has almost no infrastructure-there are just 38 miles of tarmacked road in an area the size of France-and people are traumatised by years of rape and killings.”

The Church of England, along with Christian Aid, Christian Solidarity Worldwide and other NGOs “will give the people of Southern Sudan all possible support,” Mr. Baldry said, adding that “it behoves all of us to do what we can to support what may soon be the newest member of the United Nations as it sets out on the challenging road of nationhood.”

Sudan independence referendum ‘free and fair’: The Church of England Newspaper, Jan 21, 2011 p 7. January 19, 2011

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Archbishop Daniel Deng of the Sudan greeting former US President Jimmy Carter at a polling station in Juba on Jan 9.

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Southern Sudan’s week long independence referendum was free and fair, independent poll monitors have reported and turn out heavy.

The results of the referendum on independence for the Southern African, Christian half of Sudan from the Northern Muslim, Arab governing in Khartoum are being tallied this week, but preliminary returns suggest an overwhelming vote for independence.

On Jan 17, the chairman of the Unity State referendum committee, Michael Mayil Chol, reported that 494,196 voters (98.8 per cent) had cast their votes in the oil rich state along the border with Northern Sudan, the Sudan Tribune reported.

Speaking on Southern Sudan Television the Chairman of the Referendum Commission Prof. Ibrahim Mohamed Khalil said preliminary estimates of voter turnout was 97 per cent in Southern Sudan, 54 per cent among Southerners residing in Northern Sudan, and 91 per cent among members of the Sudanese Diaspora.

Initial tallies show an overwhelming vote for independence.  In Yei County along Sudan’s border with Uganda, 83,182 votes for secession were cast and 836 votes for continued union with Khartoum.

The Archbishop of Sudan, the Most Rev. Daniel Deng and his Roman Catholic counterpart Archbishop Paulino Lukudu traveled to the Hai Jalaba Junior School polling station in Juba on Jan 9 to cast their votes

“We have been waiting fifty five years for this day,” Dr. Deng said. “This is the day, this is our time.”

The Episcopal Church of the Sudan reports that after the two archbishops voted, they were introduced to former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, one of 4000 domestic and international observers monitoring the vote.

The church reported that “on inspecting the two archbishops hands” which were marked with ink to show they had voted, President Carter “quickly noticed four inky fingers and thumbs between the two archbishops instead of the two he had expected.”

The former US president “was quickly reassured by the Archbishops that this was standard procedure, and not an indication that they had voted twice.”

Foreign Secretary William Hague welcomed the international observers’ assessment that the referendum process has been conducted in a credible manner.

“Last week the people of Southern Sudan turned out in large numbers to cast their votes in the historic Referendum,” he said on Jan 18.

“We have seen people queuing for hours at polling centres, waiting patiently and calmly for the opportunity to express their view,” he said, adding that the “successful conclusion of voting represents a momentous step towards completion of Sudan’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).”

There remain major challenges ahead in the coming months, Mr. Hague said.  “I welcome the clear and united signal from the international community of its strong support for Sudan at this critical moment. During polling I spoke to both Vice President Taha and Southern President Kiir about the need to resume negotiations on the outstanding CPA issues as soon as possible. The British Government will continue to play its part to help ensure a lasting peace,” the foreign secretary said.

South Sudan independence referendum begins: The Church of England Newspaper, Jan 14, 2011 p 6. January 16, 2011

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Yusuf al-Qaradawi

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued a call to prayer as the South Sudan begins a week of voting on a referendum on independence from the Khartoum government, while Muslim leaders have issued a fatwah against secession—saying independence for Southern Sudan was a mortal threat to the spread of Islam in Africa.

In a statement released on Jan 7, Dr. Rowan Williams said the vote, which begins on Jan 9  and ends on Jan 15 “is an immensely important day for Sudan.  The people of Southern Sudan will be exercising their right of self-determination enshrined in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed exactly 6 years ago.”

Dr. Williams urged “everyone to stand with the Sudanese people to ensure that the referendum takes place peacefully and that the process and the results are fully respected.  I ask everyone to support this process and to pray for Sudan at this momentous time in its history.”

An overwhelming majority of Christian African southern Sudan is expected to back independence from the Muslim Arab north.  The Episcopal Church of Sudan has taken no official position on the referendum, but has urged all Southern Sudanese to register their vote this week.

The opening days of the voting have seen scattered violence.  Thirty people were reported to have been killed in clashes in the Abyei region, a disputed area on the border between the north and south, while ten people were killed in an ambush on Jan 10 while returning to their homes in the south to vote.

Dr. Williams noted that “concern remains for timely implementation of the outstanding elements of the peace agreement in Abyei, where a separate referendum is due to take place, and the popular consultations required for the peoples of South Kordofan and Southern Blue Nile.”

“We also must not forget the people of Darfur where a resolution to the conflict is so long overdue,” he added.

The potential for violence and the mass movement of minority populations has been ever present in the debate surrounding independence.  The majority of Sudan’s oil fields lie either in the south or in disputed regions along the border.

Muslim leaders across the Middle East have rejected the South’s bid for independence.  Last week sixty Islamic scholars issued a fatwah against independence, saying it was forbidden by Islam.

The group, including Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an influential Egyptian preacher associated with the Muslim Brotherhood who hosts Al Jazeera’s most popular show, “Shariah and Life,” said the division of the Sudan was not a question of civil war, but a global conspiracy to exclude Arabism and Islam from Africa.  They saw the fell hand of Zionism behind the call for independence, as the Southern Sudan was the gateway for Islam and Arabism in Africa, the Ikwan website reported.

Archbishop warns of civil war in the Sudan: The Church of England Newspaper, Oct 1, 2010 p 7. October 3, 2010

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Archbishop Daniel Deng of the Sudan

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The specter of civil war is looming over the Sudan, the Archbishop of Juba has warned.  On Sept 28 Archbishop Daniel Deng told AFP that if the Jan 9, 2011 independence referendum is not free and fair the country may collapse.

“We are deeply concerned because the risks of war are serious,” Archbishop Deng said, adding that church leaders were “calling for support because we must not be allowed to go back to conflict.”

Archbishop Deng will lead a delegation of church leaders to meet with British and US officials, as well as UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon this week.  “We want to give this message as a church to the United Nations, and to the US and the British governments as guarantors of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, that they should not wait until they see that we are back to war,” the archbishop said.

He also denounced statements made by Sudanese Information Minister Kamal Obeid, who last week said that 1.5 million southerners living in the north would no longer be citizens if South Sudan chose independence.

“We are all Sudanese and even if we divide ourselves into two, still we can live together,” the archbishop told AFP as “we have a culture and history that are linked together, and separation of the south should not be a threat to our life as people of the Sudan.”

On Sept 28 the US House of Representatives adopted a bipartisan resolution on the Sudan, which called for the State Department to help ensure that the referendum is held on schedule, “in a free, fair, peaceful, and credible manner” and that the resolution of the North-South border, oil revenue sharing and citizenship are equitably addressed.

The clock is ticking,” said Leonard Leo, the chairman of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom.  “The United States needs to act clearly and decisively to work with the international community to ensure the successful implementation of the [Comprehensive Peace Agreement].  At the same time, the United States needs to work to enhance civilian protection, promote peace in Darfur, increase human rights protections, and build a strong Southern Sudan,” he said.

Sudan now the frontline in the battle against Islamic extremism, archbishop warns: The Church of England Newspaper, Sept 3, 2010 p 8. September 6, 2010

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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

An independent Southern Sudan will stand as a bulwark against Islamist expansionism in East Africa, the Primate of the Sudan, Archbishop Daniel Deng of Juba said last week.

In a statement given to the All Africa Bishops Conference in Uganda, Archbishop Deng also warned the Sudan was in danger of falling back into civil war, and urged the Anglican bishops of Africa to pray that the January independence referendum be peaceful and fair.

Christians in the Sudan have been under pressure from Islam since 641 AD, Archbishop Deng said, but “in the past 20 years there have been attempts to legally suppress it following the compulsory introduction of Sharia Law in 1983. This reduced many millions of Christians to second class citizens in their home country.”

The Islamist government in Khartoum has also “declared jihad against Sudanese Christians, and between 1983 and 2005, around 2.5 million people died, millions were maimed, and over 4 million more were displaced to camps—some of whom have not been permitted to return until this day,” he said.

“Fundamentalist elements” of the Khartoum government were “suspected of wishing to keep the South underdeveloped and to use the southern people as cheap labourers in the North whilst taking all the minerals of the South for the development of the North. Their long-term intentions are to use the conversion of the south to Islam as a springboard for the Islamization of East Africa and beyond,” the archbishop warned.

“Having endured this systematic persecution” the Southern Sudan will likely vote for independence, for “in their own states, they will not face Islamization and Arabization or marginalization from the North.”

The peace process in Sudan “has reached a critical point” the archbishop said, noting that “we are now less than 4 months away from the referendum on southern Sudan self-determination and popular consultations for Nuba Mountains and the Blue Nile.”

Preparations for the elections have not been fully implemented, he said, and the government had failed to honor the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) due to the “lack of 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 Episcopal Church of the Sudan was “afraid that the registration of voters will not be carried out in a fair way.”   The government census reports that “only 500,000 Southerners live in the North, a figure which is deliberately underestimated, as around four million Southerners have moved to the North since the mid-1980s.”

The church was also worried about the rights of “Southerners currently living in the North. If the South votes for separation, these people would become foreigners in Northern Sudan and will be at the mercy of the Khartoum authorities,” he said.

The Episcopal Church called on “all those involved in referendum planning to put the safety, livelihoods, and rights of the poorest and most vulnerable first.”

Archbishop Deng also called upon the Anglican bishops of Africa to pray for the Sudan.  “We request especial support from you all for the Church in Northern Sudan as it continues to face the official persecution from the Khartoum government,” he said.

“The global Church must stand united in support of our brothers and sisters who daily witness to faith in Jesus Christ whilst suffering to do so. If this does not happen, then Christianity in Northern Sudan has the most uncertain future and may even be facing destruction,” Archbishop Deng said.

Church call for independence referendum for South Sudan: The Church of England Newspaper, Aug 20, 2010 p 6. August 25, 2010

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President Omar al-Bashir of the Sudan

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Church leaders have called upon the Islamist government in Khartoum to honour its pledge to hold a referendum on independence for South Sudan on Jan 9, 2011.

On Aug 9, five bishops of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan released an open letter warning that delays in holding the referendum, a key component in the comprehensive peace agreement that ended 25 years of civil war, could lead to bloodshed.

The Rt. Rev. Reuben Maciir Makoi of Cueibet, the Rt. Rev. Wilson Kamani of Ibba, the Rt. Rev. Bismark Monday of Mundri, the Rt. Rev. Joseph Maker of Pacong, and the Rt. Rev. Benjamin Mangar of Yirol asked Britain, Norway, the United States and the East African community to pressure Khartoum to hold free and fair elections.

Critics charge the government of President Omar al-Bashir with trying to sabotage the referendum.  While the Sudanese parliament in December created an electoral commission to oversee the referendum and President al-Bashir has promised the referendum will go ahead as planned, the government did not appoint the members of the commission until June, and rivalries between north and south among the commissioners have prevented the election of a chairman.

Under the referendum law passed by parliament, the electoral rolls of eligible voters must be drawn up by Oct 9, ninety days before the vote.  However, as of mid-August the commission has not begun voter registration, which is expected to take several months.

“The commission now is paralysed, it is not working,” Pagan Amum, secretary general of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) told AFP.

“I am afraid there may be elements within the referendum commission that are actually planning… a postponement, or in the worst case a total betrayal (of the right) to be exercised by the people of southern Sudan,” he said.

The bishops’ letter called upon the political parties to stand down their youth militias, and turn their efforts toward the social and economic empowerment of the country.  Politicians should train young people to rebuild the Sudan rather than engaging them in activities that promote anarchy.

“As the country prepares for the 2011 referendum; all political players should foster harmony so that Sudan does not lose its status as a haven of peace,” the letter urged.

On Jan 11, 2010 the church took its campaign for international support for the referendum to 10 Downing Street, where Dr. Daniel Deng, the Archbishop of Juba and Primate of the Sudan, met with Prime Minister Gordon Brown.  Dr. Deng called upon Britain and the US to intervene in the Sudan to ensure the terms of the peace treaty were honoured, warning that the country faced the specter of war.

The Labour government’s Minister for Africa Baroness Kinnock pledged Britain “will continue working” with all sides to ensure compliance with the peace treaty.  However, Dr. Deng told reporters before his meeting with the prime minister “the time for talk [from the UK] is over, it is time for action.”

Action on Sudan urged: CEN 1.22.10 p 5. February 3, 2010

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Gordon Brown greeting Archbishop Daniel Deng at 10 Downing Street

Britain and the United States must intervene in the Sudan to prevent a return of civil war, Dr. Daniel Deng, the Archbishop of Juba and Primate of the Sudan told Prime Minister Gordon Brown at a meeting at 10 Downing Street on Jan 11.

Accompanied by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams and other church leaders, Dr. Deng met with the prime minister and Foreign Secretary David Miliband to ask that Britain honour its pledge to help implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended two decades of civil war between the Arab north and African south in 2005.

However the Foreign Office appears reluctant to act. On Jan 6 the FCO’s Minister for Africa Baroness Kinnock and DFID Minister Gareth Thomas announced a £54 million aid package for the Sudan, and called for all parties in the Sudan to support the CPA.

The CPA “ended Africa’s longest-running civil war,” Baroness Kinnock said. “It has been through many challenges but remains intact and has prevented a return to major conflict. But now is a critical time.”

“There are three months until nationwide elections and one year until the referendum on self-determination for Southern Sudan. Sudan needs leadership from both parties to overcome the challenges ahead and realise a peaceful future for the people of Sudan, both in the period up to the referendum and for the years after, regardless of the outcome. There has been encouraging progress in recent weeks. The UK will continue working with both parties to build on this,” she said.

However, in a press conference at Lambeth Palace held before his meeting with the prime minister, Dr. Deng said the Western countries that had helped broker the CPA must act: “the time for talk is over, it is time for action.”

“Britain, the US, Norway must get involved,” he said, or “one night Sudan will slip back to war,” which would destabilize East Africa.

“Since 1955 the people of the South and Darfu have been marginalized” by the Khartoum government. The CPA has failed to end the marginalization, Dr. Deng said, leaving in place the conditions that led to war.

Dr. Williams said there was a “danger of sleepwalking into a situation of real nightmare in Sudan.”

The “peace agreement has been almost meaningless,” he said, noting that “injustice” and “intolerable deprivation” was the lot of most Sudanese.

The Archbishop of Canterbury said that he hoped that by meeting with the prime minister, he and Dr. Deng would “bring that pressure onto the table at Downing Street” for international action to save Sudan from civil war.

On Dec 22, the National Congress Party (NCP) government headed by President Omar al-Bashir pushed through the National Assembly a South Sudan referendum bill with terms unacceptable to the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM). On Dec 20, the NCP dominated National Assembly adopted a revised National Security Act over the objections of the SPLM, which protested the absence of parliamentary oversight and accountability for the security services.

“Once again the NCP has violated agreements it made with the SPLM, its supposed partner in the peace process,” said Leonard Leo of the US State Departments Commission on International Religious Freedom. “These violations are threatening to derail the CPA which provides the only existing roadmap to peace in Sudan and it is now hanging by a thread.”

Sudan ‘on brink of civil war’: CEN 12.11.09 p 5. December 18, 2009

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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Sudan is on the brink of civil war, the Provincial Standing Committee of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan (ECS) has warned in a statement released last week.

Sudan ‘on brink of civil war’

“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 January 1, 1956 borders, and violence recently perpetrated by other armed groups,” the ECS Standing Committee said at the close of its Nov 23-27 meeting in Rumbek.

In a July briefing, the International Crisis Group (ICG) — a national security thinktank — reported the Islamist-backed National Congress Party (NCP) government in Khartoum had reneged on the terms of the peace treaty that ended 28 years of civil war.

The IGC stated the NCP government had “held back the key concessions required for the democratic transformation” of the Sudan set forth in the CPA, “including repeal of repressive laws and restoration of basic freedom of association and expression, and it has blocked the actions necessary for a peaceful referendum, such as a credible census, demarcation of the border, fuller wealth-sharing and de-escalation of local conflicts in the transitional areas of Abyei, South Kordofan/Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile.”

The Khartoum government “appears to have decided to allow neither the secession of South Sudan nor meaningful political reforms in the North,” the ICG said.

There is “no alternative” to the CPA, the church warned. “It must be fully implemented” by both the North and South, and “must be fully supported by those guarantor governments who promised to do so in 2005.”

Following a state visit to Nairobi on Oct 28 by South Sudan President Salva Kiir, Prime Minister Raila Odinga said “Kenya as the principle Guarantor to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement wants to see the implementation of the accord to the letter as the African Union and UN seeks amicable solution to the Darfur conflict.”

US Special Envoy Lt Gen Scott Gration has also vowed to make saving the CPA a top priority of the Obama administration. However, the “inter-ethnic violence currently witnessed across much of Southern Sudan, the ongoing violence against civilians in Darfur, and the violent attacks on civilians being perpetrated by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in the south-west of the country,” was destabilizing the region, the church warned.

The escalation of violence “will make registration and voting in the elections and referendum very difficult,” the church warned. “The conclusion that is drawn is that this violence is intended to negatively affect the elections and referendum,” it concluded.

The ECS urged the national and southern governments “and the international guarantor nations of the CPA to uphold their promises of equality and freedom to the people of Sudan,” and act now to prevent the slide into war.

Sudan creates four new dioceses: CEN 10.30.09 p 6. November 6, 2009

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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Episcopal Church of the Sudan (ECS) has created four new dioceses and elected seven new bishops at meeting of the provincial synod and House of Bishops in Juba last week.

On Oct 24, five priests were elected to serve as the first Bishops of Terekeka, Pacong, Akot, Twic East and Nzara. Elections were also held to fill the vacant sees of Wau and Rejaf, while the sees of two new dioceses were left unfilled: Wad Medani and Aweil.

Four new dioceses for Church in Sudan

The Feb 15 provincial synod created the Dioceses of Pakong and Akot out of the Diocese of Rumbek in the Lakes State of Southern Sudan and the dioceses’ two assistant bishops: the Rt Rev Joseph Maker and the Rt Rev Isaac Dhieu were nominated to stand for election as diocesan bishops. Both bishops ran unopposed and the House of Bishops confirmed Bishop Maker as Bishop of Pakong and Bishop Dhieu as Bishop of Akot.

The Diocese of Terekeka was carved out of the diocese of Juba in January 2009, and the Assistant Bishop of Juba the Rt Rev Micah Leila nominated as its first bishop by the provisional diocesan synod. Bishop Leila faced no opposition in his election and was confirmed in the post.

The Diocese of Nzara was carved out of the Diocese of Yambio along Sudan’s border with the Congo earlier this year. The Diocese of Yambio’s development officer, the Rev Samuel Enosa Peni ran unopposed in the election and was confirmed in office.

The new Diocese of Twic East faced a contested election after the archbishop’s commissary Archdeacon Joseph Mabior Garang was killed on Aug 28 by gunmen. The Assistant Bishop of Bor, the Rt Rev Ezekiel Diing polled three quarters of the votes cast and was named bishop-elect of Twic East in the Diocese of Juba was killed last month.

In the election to fill the vacant see of the Diocese of Wau, the Rev Moses Deng Bol received 62 per cent of the votes cast and was named bishop-elect, while the former General Secretary of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan Canon Enock Tombe polled 76 per cent of the votes cast and was elected Bishop of Rejaf.

The Diocese of Aweil was inaugurated last week, formed from the an archdeaconry of the southern diocese of Wau, while the Diocese of Wad Medani was carved out of the southern half of the Diocese of Khartoum along the Blue Nile. The first enthronement for the new bishops will take place on Nov 1 in Terekeka, the ECS reported.

Sudan civil-war could re-ignite, warn church leaders: CEN 10.23.09 p 8. October 30, 2009

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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Church leaders in the Sudan have issued a statement warning that the failure of the governments in Khartoum and Juba to implement the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) could reignite the 22-year-old civil war.

If the CPA “had been fully and honestly implemented from the outset, a peaceful, attractive unity would have had chance in Sudan,” said the group on Oct 12 that includes Anglican Archbishop Daniel Deng of Juba, Roman Catholic Archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro, and the leaders of the Presbyterian, Pentecostal, and reformed churches of the country.

Sudan civil-war could re-ignite, warn church leaders

“However, since the signing of the CPA, every protocol has either not been fully implemented or is under discussion for less-than-full implementation, and therefore unity is no longer attractive, especially to Sudanese Christians and those in the marginalised areas.”

Contrary to the provisions of the peace treaty, Sharia law was still being enforced by the Khartoum government, national elections have been postponed, as has a promised referendum on independence for Southern Sudan. The government in Khartoum had also failed to disclose the revenues received from oil drilling in several disputed areas, the church leaders said.

“Consequently there is a widespread lack of confidence by Southerners and other marginalised people in the fairness or true democracy of the upcoming elections and referendum because of a general lack of trustworthiness and transparency from the Northern government,” they said.

Violence was also tearing apart South Sudan with guns flowing into the region to arm rival tribes and factions of the SPLA. “In all these incidents of violence it has been the case that Southern Sudanese have for various reasons fought Southern Sudanese, a fact that leads the churches to urge our people to unite in this crucial time and not to jeopardise the CPA through infighting.” Archbishop Deng and the other church leaders called upon the international community to intervene and enforce the terms of the peace treaty. “If the CPA is made to work, it must be fully implemented by both signatories and must be fully supported by those guarantor governments who promised to do so in 2005.”

“If the CPA is renegotiated or is allowed to fall apart, war or oppressive unity will be the outcome, with serious effects for the whole region,” they warned.

Former Archbishop of the Sudan dies: CEN 9.28.09 September 29, 2009

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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The former Archbishop of the Sudan, Dr Joseph Marona has died in Khartoum after a long illness on Sept 18. His body will be taken to Juba and laid to rest at the cathedral.

Elected the third Primate of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan and Archbishop of Juba in 1999 during a meeting of the House of Bishops in Limeru, Kenya, Dr Marona’s eight-year tenure as primate saw the end to the 22-year civil war between the Muslim-Arab north and Christian-African south, and the prospects for the first sustained period of peace in South Sudan since the end of Anglo-Egyptian rule in 1956.

Former Archbishop of the Sudan dies

The church has also weathered the spectre of tribalism and the schism of the former Bishop of Rumbek, Gabriel Roric Jur, who, after being defrocked as bishop, established the rival Reformed Episcopal Church of the Sudan with the backing of the Islamist government in Khartoum.

Born in 1941 in the Western Equatoria province of Sudan, Dr Marona was educated at the Yei Teachers Training College and taught Arabic in Talia and Lui primary schools from 1962 to 1966. In 1966 he went into exile in Uganda and continued his education at Makere University.

Following the signing of the Addis Abba Peace Agreement he returned to the Sudan and served as a school headmaster in South Sudan from 1975 to 1978 when he entered the Bishop Gwynne College for his theological training. Ordained in 1982, he was appointed head of department of Christian education at Maridi Teachers Training Institute and in 1984 was appointed the first bishop of Maridi. In 1999 he was elected Primate of the Sudan and translated to Juba, but retired due to ill health on Dec 31, 2007.

Archdeacon shot at altar: CEN 9.04.09 p 6. September 7, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Episcopal Church of the Sudan, Terrorism.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

An attack on the village of Wernyol in the Jonglei State in South Sudan has left 47 dead, including the Archdeacon of Wernyol, the Ven Joseph Mabior Garang.

On the morning of Aug 28 approximately 1,000 gunmen attacked the village “coming to take the cattle, and to loot and steal,” Maj Gen Kuol Diem Kuol of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) told Al-Jazeera.

“There was only a small police force based in Wernyol, and they were soon overrun, but nearby SPLA platoons heard the shooting and rushed to the area” and restored order, Gen Kuol said.

Archdeacon amongst 47 killed in South Sudan

The SPLA speculated the attack was a revenge killing mounted by Lou Nuer tribesmen against the Dinka residents of Wernyol. The two tribes sporadically have fought over cattle and grazing rights, but the fighting has escalated since the signing of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) ending Sudan’s 22-year civil war, with women and children now targeted by gunmen.

However, because the “attackers were well armed with new automatic weapons, dressed in army uniforms, and appeared well organized and properly trained,” the Primate of the Sudan, Archbishop Daniel Deng, said he doubted the fight was merely a tribal raid.

“Instead of attacking a cattle camp, this was an attack on a Payam headquarter town. Consequently in the view of the church, this was not a tribal conflict as commonly reported, but a deliberately organized attack on civilians by those that are against the peace in Southern Sudan,” the archbishop said.

Eyewitness accounts of the attack printed in the New Sudan Vision (NSV) reported that 40 villagers and seven SPLA soldiers were killed. “It appears that these people are not raiding for children as they were indiscriminately killing both women and children and not kidnapping as usual”, said the newspaper.

Archdeacon Garang was “shot at the altar of the church in Wernyol during a service of Morning Prayer,” according to a statement from Archbishop Deng posted on the internet. NSV reported the archdeacon died en route to hospital in a neighboring town.

The attack in the Eastern Jonglei State comes with a return of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Southwestern Sudan. Archbishop Deng said he had received news of an Aug 12 LRA attack on Ezo “in which three people, including an Episcopal Church lay reader, had been murdered.”

“Continuing violence such as this is not only a crime against the innocent people killed and injured, it is a crime against the peace of the Sudan and if left unchecked will do great damage to the smooth implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA)” and the scheduled 2010 elections, the archbishop said.

Archbishop Deng called upon the diplomatic community “to urge your countries’ governments to do more to guarantee the implementation of the CPA at all levels.”

“So long as all violence such as that in Jonglei and that perpetrated by the LRA continues — violence which is preventable by better use of security personnel — there is no hope of conducting free and fair elections in these areas in 2010 and no hope of a fair referendum on Southern secession in 2011,” Archbishop Deng said.

Little hope for renewed deal to end Sudan strife: CEN 8.28.09 p 6. September 7, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Arms Control/Defense/Peace Issues, Church of England Newspaper, Episcopal Church of the Sudan.
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The US-brokered deal signed last week to revive the stalled Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) is being greeted with skepticism by Sudanese church leaders.

“To sign a piece of paper is not a sign to the people” that a lasting peace is at hand, the Primate of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, Archbishop Daniel Deng of Juba told The Church of England Newspaper in an Aug 22 email.

Representatives of Southern Sudan’s Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the Khartoum government’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) on Aug 19 endorsed an agreement resolving disputed issues arising from the 2005 CPA that ended twenty-two years of civil war between the Arab Muslim North and the African Christian South.

U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan Maj. Gen. Scott Gration witnessed the initialing of the bilateral agreement in Juba that according to the US State Department “commits the NCP and SPLM to a series of timed benchmarks for implementing key aspects of the CPA, including border demarcation and election preparation.”

On July 22, an international tribunal in The Hague redefined the borders of the disputed oil-rich Abyei region, but other areas along the 2000km border remain in dispute.

The US State Department stated that “despite the significant progress made to date, the parties have been unable to reach agreement on several issues, namely a final determination on the use of census data,” noting that General Gration would return to Juba next month to continue the trilateral talks.

The London based Arabic-language newspaper, Al-Sharq al-Awsat, stated the dispute centers around the use of census data. The NCP has insisted that data from the 2008 census be used to determine election districts. The SPLM has dismissed the 2008 census as untrustworthy and has insisted that the pre-independence 1956 census be used.

The SPLM has charged the Khartoum-government of attempting to derail a 2011 independence referendum for Southern Sudan. On July 29 the Secretary General of the SPLM, Pagan Amum said the North had intentionally “delayed the demarcation of the north-south border.”

“Whether Sudan will become one peaceful and free country or separate into two countries peacefully co-existing shall be decided in large degree by how we, the two parties – SPLM and NCP – implement the CPA,” he said in a press statement.

However, “attempts to renege from the CPA shall lead to a catastrophic disaster of war again,” the SPLM leader warned.

Archbishop Deng told CEN that although the NCP and SPLM had signed many agreements, “nothing changed.”

“Since the CPA was signed four years ago the situation in the Sudan never changes. To sign a paper is not a sign to the people,” Archbishop Deng said.

“In the north [Khartoum government] has been doing this for more than fifty years,” he said, “warning the Western world to let them know dealing with Muslim [governments] is no simple matter.”

Sudan church leader to chair electoral group: CEN 6.26.09 p 6. July 1, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Episcopal Church of the Sudan.
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The Archbishop of Juba Daniel Deng writes that the long time provincial secretary of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan (ECS), Canon Enock Tombe, has been given a year’s leave of absence to take up the post of chairman of the Eastern Equatoria High Elections Committee.

The June 16 appointment of Canon Tombe was “a national honour to the ECS,” Archbishop Deng wrote as “one of our leading clergymen has been chosen” by the government “for this most prestigious appointment.” The current ECS Personnel Secretary, Mr. John Augustino Lumori, has been appointed Acting Provincial Secretary through 2010, the archbishop said.

The Jan 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which formally ended the 21-year civil war between the Khartoum government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), called for national elections in July 2009, and a referendum on South Sudan independence to be held by 2011.

In April the Sudan’s nine-man electoral commission postponed the first national elections in 20 years for the national president and parliament, the South Sudan president and parliament, state governors and state assemblies to Feb 2010, saying more time was needed to create the infrastructure to oversee the voting.

However a June 16 report presented to the UN Human Rights Council questioned whether Sudan’s elections would be free and fair. UN investigator Sima Samar stated that “reports of arbitrary arrests, detention, as well as allegations of ill-treatment and torture of human rights defenders and humanitarian workers by security forces, in particular by the National Intelligence and Security Services” were being lodged with the UN mission in Sudan.

“In view of the upcoming elections in Feb 2010, it is imperative that restrictions on freedom of expression, association and assembly be removed to create a conducive environment for free and fair elections,” Samar told the Council.

The Sudan’s representative to the Human Rights Council dismissed the charges, saying the investigator’s report failed to “give a true picture of human rights” in the Sudan.

Archbishop’s Sudan peace plea: CEN 6.26.09 p 7. June 30, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England Newspaper, Episcopal Church of the Sudan.
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Writing in support of the June 18 “Sudan Day of Action” organized by Baroness Cox and the Sudan Action Group, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams has called upon Khartoum government and the former rebels of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement to act swiftly to implement all of the terms of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).

“I saw the first benefits of peace myself when I visited Sudan in February 2006, just one year after the signing of the agreement,” Dr. Williams said.

“The CPA brought new hope to Southern Sudan after long and destructive conflict. Families could be reunited after long years of separation. New development opportunities opened up such as the church’s widespread programmes of teacher training and classroom building. For the first time, Southern Sudan had the opportunity to establish its own government as an autonomous region within the country.”

However the delay in implementing all of the terms of the CPA has “threatened the sustainability of this peace,” Dr. Williams warned. “There is now an urgency for both parties to the agreement and the international community which helped to broker and support it to demonstrate their renewed commitment to implement the agreement fully.”

He called upon the treaty partners to complete the disarmament and address the “widespread problems of insecurity,” rebuild South Sudan’s devastated infrastructure of roads, settle the on-going disputes over disputed border territories, and move swiftly to hold free and fair elections.

Dr. Williams also urged the international community not to be sidetracked by the “continuing horrors” of Darfur. “We need to recognize that unless the commitments around the CPA are honoured there is no chance of settling the conflict in Darfur,” he said.“I therefore urge a renewal of commitment and a readiness to work for measurable results as soon as possible,” the archbishop said.

Sudan Church expels US missionary: CEN 5.22.09 p 7. May 26, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Episcopal Church of the Sudan, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Virginia.
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The Archbishop of Juba has expelled an American missionary for having claimed the Episcopal Church of the Sudan backed the Episcopal Church’s stance on gay blessings.

On May 13, the Diocese of Virginia reported that the Rev. Lauren Stanley’s comments to the January meeting of its diocesan synod “were deemed offensive” to the Episcopal Church of the Sudan.

“As a result,” Archbishop Daniel Deng of Juba, the Primate of the Sudan, requested that Ms Stanley “be withdrawn from that mission field permanently. Bishop Lee brought Lauren home in early March in response to that request.”

Virginia Bishop Peter Lee stated that Ms. Stanley had “served faithfully in the Diocese of Renk, Sudan, for nearly four years, receiving widespread support among her students and the local community” and as an advocate for the Church in the Sudan amongst parishes in the US and was currently seeking a new mission posting overseas.

Mary Ailes, an Anglican writer in Northern Virginia, reported that at the January Virginia synod meeting, a resolution affirming the blessing of same-sex unions was put forward that endorsed the “inherent integrity of and blessedness of” such “committed Christian relationships.”

Ms. Stanley, a lecturer at Renk Theological College endorsed the amendment, and discounted concerns raised by other delegates that the resolution would lead to strained relations with the diocese’s partners in the Sudan.  Ms. Stanley argued same-sex blessings in the US church were not problematic for the church in the Sudan.

While open to financial and administrative support from progressive Western dioceses, the Church of the Sudan has taken a dim view of the innovations in sexual ethics made by the Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada.  The Sudanese House of Bishops has rejected gay bishops and blessings, and at the 2008 Lambeth Conference Archbishop Deng called upon New Hampshire Bishop Gene Robinson to resign.

Sudan ‘on brink of third civil war’: CEN 5.07.09 p 6. May 11, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Arms Control/Defense/Peace Issues, Church of England Newspaper, Episcopal Church of the Sudan.
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The Archbishop of the Sudan has issued a plea for international help to prevent the outbreak of a third Sudanese Civil War. Weapons have flooded the country, Archbishop Daniel Deng of Juba has warned in a May 4 letter to the international community and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended the Second Sudanese Civil War is in danger of collapse.

Signed in January 2005, the CPA or Naivasha Agreement ended the war between the Arab Islamist government in Khartoum and the predominantly Christian and African Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM). Almost 2 million people died from war-related famine, disease and violence from the conflict, the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants reported, while four million people, an estimated 80 per cent of the population of Southern Sudan were forced into flight during the war.

Sudan’s first civil war lasted from independence in 1955 to 1972 and its second civil war was fought over the same ground and same issues from 1983 to 2005. A third civil war was on the horizon, Archbishop Deng warned, unless the US, UK, the Netherlands and other regional governments that had guaranteed the CPA took action.

“Peoples in Western and Central Equatoria are being attacked, murdered and displaced by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), rumoured to be supplied by people within Sudan,” he said, while “a large number of civilians in Eastern Equatoria, Lakes and Jonglei states are armed.”

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Sudan 'on brink of third civil war'

New dioceses for Sudan: CEN 3.20.09 p 9. March 23, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Episcopal Church of the Sudan.
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The Episcopal Church of the Sudan has created two new dioceses, carving the Dioceses of Pakong and Akot out of the Diocese of Rumbek in the Lakes State of Southern Sudan.

On Feb 15 the provincial synod endorsed the creation of the two new dioceses, bringing the total number of dioceses to 27. The Primate of the Sudan, Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul Yak inaugurated the Diocese of Pacong on March 12 and appointed the Assistant Bishop of Rumbek, the Rt. Rev. Joseph Maker as bishop-nominee. On March 13, Archbishop Deng inaugurated the Diocese of Akot, appointing Rumbek’s second assistant bishop, the Rt. Rev. Isaac Dhieu as bishop-nominee.

The two new bishops will formally take possession of their dioceses after their nominations are confirmed by the Sudanese House of Bishops at their next regular meeting.

Located in the Lake State of Southern Sudan, the Diocese of Rumbek and its two offspring suffered greatly during the decades long civil war between north and south. From 1992 to 2002 the Bishop of Rumbek, the Rt. Rev. Gabriel Roric Jur was absent from the diocese.

Considered a quisling by many Christians for his service to the National Islamic Front government, Bishop Roric served as Deputy Foreign Minister of the Sudan and is presently the chairman of the government’s Inter-Religious Dialogue Commission. In 2004 Bishop Roric Jur endorsed the Khartoum government’s imposition of Sharia law on Christians in Northern Sudan.

In 2003 Archbishop Joseph Marona deposed Bishop Roric Jur for being absent from his diocese for ten years. Bishop Roric Jur responded by forming with the help of the Khartoum government the Reformed Episcopal Church in the Sudan with a second deposed bishop, Peter El-Bersh. With the end of the civil war, Bishop Roric Jur’s church has lost ground as the Khartoum government pulled its support of the breakaway group.

Sudan primate calls for help against the LRA: CEN 3.06.09 p 7. March 6, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Episcopal Church of the Sudan.
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The Primate of the Sudan, Archbishop Daniel Deng of Juba has called upon Britain and the United States to intervene in the conflict in East Africa and end the depredations of the Lord’s Resistance Army.

Speaking to the BBC last week, Archbishop Deng said the governments of South Sudan, Uganda, the Congo and the Central African Republic appeared unable to end the 20 year reign of terror of the LRA. International support from the West was needed to capture LRA leader Joseph Kony and “bring him to book.”

On Dec 14 elements of the Ugandan, Congolese and South Sudan armies, supported by Ugandan jet aircraft, launched operation ‘Lightning Thunder’, attacking LRA base camps in the Garamba forest of the Bas Uélé district of the Congo. The strikes came after Kony failed to appear at a Nov 29 meeting to sign a final peace agreement.

The US Army’s African Command seconded 17 military advisers to the Ugandan People’s Defence Force for ‘Lightning Thunder’ according to a report in the New York Times, and also provided equipment, satellite intelligence and the jet fuel for the Ugandan air force. Last month Israel’s Ambassador Jacob Keidar told the Kampala Monitor that his government also would offer military or intelligence support to defeat the LRA.

“The LRA rebels are committing the most terrible crimes to human beings and I really think they should be gotten rid of,” Mr. Keidar told the Monitor, saying his government will consider “positively, very favorably” requests for assistance.

Northern Ugandan church leaders, however, have urged restraint. In December, the former Anglican Bishop of Kitgum, the Rt Rev Macleod Ochola speaking on behalf of the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative said ‘Lightning Thunder’ would only scatter the LRA and prolong the conflict. Twenty years of campaigning had not defeated the LRA the bishop said, urging the government to return to the negotiating table.

Driven from the Congo’s Garamba forest by ‘Lightning Thunder’, the LRA has moved east over the past ten weeks unleashing a campaign of terror against the South Sudan with reports from local church leaders of destroyed crops and villages, murder and kidnappings.

On Feb 28, the Diocese of Ezo in South Sudan wrote to supporters in the UK detailing LRA attacks in its area. The Diocesan Administrator, Levi Bona, stated that in March 2008 the LRA attacked Ezo and ransacked the diocesan headquarters.

They returned on Dec 26 and in six separate incidents, attacked villages surrounding Ezo, burning crops, destroying homes and killing 16. One village headman-”the husband of one of our Mother’s Union members”-was hacked to death by the LRA and Mr. Bona reported that over 9,000 people have been driven from their homes. Almost 7000 Congolese refugees have taken shelter in Ezo since a Dec 25 massacre at a Catholic church killed 425.

“Seven parishes have been greatly affected and the tendency of Sunday services is now very low because people fear to be attacked by LRA during prayers, Mr. Bona said.

Refugees in Ezo “are sleeping under trees, have nothing to eat or cover with, medicine and all the basic needs are needed. We thank the UN for the little support they have taken to the Congolese refugees recently but the internal displaced persons have not yet receive any help,” he said.

Mr. Bona appealed to “our Christian brothers and sisters for support in form of food, non food items and medicine on behalf of these suffering people.”

Sudan bishops hold first retreat in 25 years: CEN 2.27.09 p 8. March 2, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Episcopal Church of the Sudan.
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The Episcopal Church of the Sudan held its first Bishops’ retreat in a quarter century last week, with the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey and other guests leading workshops to strengthen the church’s episcopal ministries.

From Feb 11-16 the bishops met in the South Sudan city of Yei, close to the border with the Congo and participated in a series of Bible studies, prayer meetings and classes. Retired Assistant Bishop of Virginia the Rt. Rev. Frank Gray spoke of the need for forgiveness and reconciliation in the wake of 24 year civil war and on-going conflicts in Darfur and with the Lord’s Resistance Army along the border with the Congo.

Taking as his text, Acts chapter 20, Lord Carey lectured on the principles of episcopal ministry, while Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda addressed issues of the acculturation of Anglicanism in an African context.

While physically devastated by the war between the Muslim north and Christian south, the Episcopal Church of the Sudan has seen tremendous growth in recent years and has an estimated 4 million members spread across 25 dioceses. Archbishop Daniel Deng of Juba welcomed the opportunity of gathering the church’s bishops to learn from Lord Carey and the other foreign guests, saying closer links with the Church of England and Church of Uganda would benefit all Christians in the Sudan.

The Archbishop of the Sudan at the inauguration of the Diocese of Terekeka February 7, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Episcopal Church of the Sudan.
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Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul Yuk.  Photo taken 1.24.08 by the Rev. Charles Ogeno

Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul Yuk. Photo taken 1.24.08 by the Rev. Charles Ogeno

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