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Africa

2003-12-12

AFRICA/SUDAN - CARDINAL WAKO: “THE WILL TO PUT AN END TO THE WAR IS EVER STRONGER BUT SO IS THE FEAR THAT ONCE AGAIN HOPES FOR PEACE WILL BE DISAPPOINTED ”

Rome (Fides Service)- Cardinal Wako, Archbishop of Khartoum is in Rome with the Bishops of Sudan on ad limina visit to the Pope. In a conversation with Fides the Sudanese Cardinal stressed the importance of harmony among followers of different religions.
“People fear that once again their hopes for peace will be disappointed. Nevertheless I must say that the will to put an end to this war once and for ever is ever stronger” Cardinal Gabriel Zubeir Wako, told Fides with regard to developments in the peace process in Sudan.
“We must continue to pray and hope for peace” the Cardinal said “this is why my man concern is to underline that the fundamental problems at the basis of the conflict have not yet been solved. I refer to the imposition of Sharia law, participation in politics and sharing of the country’s economic riches. These questions must be considered taking into account the real needs of all the people of Sudan. The problem is not independence or autonomy for the south but to guarantee the people of this region a government which represents them and addresses their needs ”.
The Cardinal said that in Darfur in west Sudan fighting continues and government planes bomb villages. “Here and in the south we see the pro-government Arabized peoples rearming. Many fear that this will mean the war will be continued under the guise of ethnic clashes.” Yesterday, 11 December, 25 people were reportedly killed during an air strike in the area of Darfur.
“We wonder if western pressure for a speedy peace agreement may produce only fragile architecture which will not solve the root causes of the conflict. Of course it is necessary to help the Sudanese to dialogue among themselves but care must be taken to avoid imposing from abroad agreements which turn out to be weak and do not solve all the problems of this highly complex conflict which has lasted for 20 ”.
In November Cardinal Wako had a meeting with Hasan Al Tourabi, a leading radical Muslim ideologist. “Dr Tourabi asked for the encounter. He wanted to congratulate me on my appointment as Cardinal. He said the appointment was an honour for Sudan and most important for Christian Muslim dialogue” the Cardinal told Fides.
In early December a high level delegation of the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLM/A) went to Khartoum to be received with honours by the government. Previously in September the parties signed an agreement for the withdrawal of government troops from southern Sudan and the progressive fusion of SPLA/M troops into the army to form a new unified army. The sides also agreed to have a 6 year transition period followed by self-determination referendum for the southern peoples. (L.M.) (Fides Service 12/12/2003 lines 41 words 543)

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