By Fredrick Nzwili, The Ecumenical News International
NAIROBI, Apr 21, 2005 (ENI) — Sudanese church leaders have urged an end to periodic clashes between the main southern rebel movement, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, and other armed groups there.
“We would not like war in the southern Sudan again, because we have officially stopped it,” the Roman Catholic Archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro told Ecumenical News International in Nairobi. “We know there is real fighting going on. We know there are warlords, but we are happy about the peace that has come.”
A peace agreement was signed in January to put an end to a 21-year-long war between the mainly Christian and animist South and the Muslim North, which displaced up to five million people.
The archbishop was speaking at talks initiated by the Moi Africa Institute, which is led by former Kenyan President Daniel Arap Moi and told the gathering it was crucial for southern Sudan to set up a proper administration. He urged the warring groups to put aside their differences for the sake of the country.
Referring to a civil war that engulfed Africa’s largest country for most of the last quarter of the 20th century, Archbishop Loro said: “Southern Sudanese have not had the experience of living together with one another. That’s why there are differences, but a huge price has been paid by all.”
“United you will overcome the daunting challenges of nation building. Your diversity in the spirit of tolerance and respect should be your strength,” said Moi, who opened the meeting. “I call upon you to relinquish all divisive tags and accommodate each other.”
Non-governmental groups have said that ongoing inter-tribal fighting could be a stumbling block to receiving US$4.6 billion in aid pledges, made to Sudan at a April 11-12 donor conference in Oslo.
“If the differences continue they will have serious implications on the peace,” said Suzanne Jambo, coordinator of the New Sudan Indigenous Organizations Network of non-governmental organizations.
Smaller rebel groups have declared they are not bound by the January agreement between the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-SPLM/A and the Khartoum government, since they were not involved.
“We see political and ideological differences among the factions, but these are not with ordinary people,” said the Rev. Moses Indorunyama of the Episcopal Church of Sudan. “The Churches want to see reconciliation, unity and peace,” Indorunyama said. “Let the leaders put aside their differences. They are confusing the people.”