By Bill Andress
Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from a recent update by long-time PPF friend and co-laborer Bill Andress of Sudan Advocacy Action Forum. His insights are well worth sharing with all Christians concerned about the future of the Church in Sudan.
Clearly the focus of most who are engaged in Sudan is the referenda (on independence) for Southern Sudan and Abyei. And most would agree that the process is behind schedule. Each issue that impedes progress seems to raise the alarm that if that issue is not addressed immediately, war will follow. Among the most visible of the issues are delayed voter registration, failure to agree on the north-south border, post referendum resource and debt sharing, and who will be allowed to vote in Abyei.
Certainly, each of these issues is both timely and vital. But threatening war if the issues are not resolved pushes Sudan toward war and reduces the likelihood that those issues will be satisfactorily resolved.
Which of the demands are for justice, and which represent greed? Are threats (from the North) motivated by economic fear, or is this a deliberate effort to sabotage the process?
How important is the timeliness of the refereda? “The weight of our history, the depths of our peoples’ suffering and corresponding expectations, the promises of their leaders both in the North and South, and the guarantees of the international community create no space for wavering on this,” said First Vice President Salva Kiir.
SAAF’s observation is that public threats normally increase the resolve of the other side and reduce the ability to negotiate. Those who are leading and those who are advising should tone down the rhetoric, evaluate the motivation, and move the process toward justice and equity and away from fear, greed and manipulation. This cannot be easily accomplished, but it is a recipe for success. At the same time, impunity for violating agreements must be ended.
What is at stake? East Africa could become destabilized. Conflict could erupt that would engulf the area from Eritrea in the north to Uganda and Kenya in the south. Millions of lives could be lost. Failure to secure a peaceful transition is not acceptable.
Meanwhile, let us not forget that genocide continues in Darfur. That it is quiet should be a concern rather than an encouragement. A quieter genocide reflects only that the government has accomplished, through a strategy of genocide, its objectives in most of Darfur.
Indeed, (the UN) is so cowed that it will not even investigate!
Please pray for courage and wisdom for all as we seek a just and lasting peace for all of Sudan.