AFRICA/SUDAN - The Bishop of El Obeid: "After thirty years of war that has disfigured religion, we hope peace does not remain only on paper"

Saturday, 5 September 2020 politics   reconciliation   peace   armed groups   wars   religion  

El Obeid (Agenzia Fides) - "People here prefer to be cautious: it is the history of our Country since independence in 1956 to today that obliges us. But the peace agreement covers a large part of Sudan and it is very important that a signature has finally been reached. We are all very happy". This is how Mgr. Tombe Trille, Bishop of El Obeid - capital of northern Kordofan - and president of the Bishops’ Conference of Sudan and South Sudan, comments to Agenzia Fides the historic peace agreement reached in Sudan between the government and the rebels of the Revolutionary Front - the initials which gathers the military formations of the States of southern Kordofan, western Darfur and the Blue Nile. The representatives of the armed groups in recent days met Abdalla Hamdok, president of the Sovereign Transition Council in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, and, in the presence of the host president Salva Kiir, they put the long-awaited signatures that put an end to decades of atrocious conflicts.
"Peace - continues Mgr. Trille in the conversation with Fides - was one of the most pressing requests of the revolution and one of the most repeated promises by the new executive. We expected it, as they said, within six months and it arrived late, but it is important that an agreement has been found. The population is happy because at least hostilities have stopped. The Sudanese, unfortunately, are distrustful because of our history, and there are some who think it is just a pause. Therefore, we are all waiting to see the implementation of the agreements in the hope that the interest in the Country is genuine".
The agreement involves many rebel groups in the hottest areas of Sudan. Some observers, however, raise concerns about the absence of other armed movements at the table.
"Some of the armed groups in Darfur and the Nuba Mountains - notes the Prelate - are unfortunately not among the signatories of the agreement, and we hope that this will not create problems in putting the pacts into practice. The biggest fear is that the government doesn't have a clear plan. We pay for 30 years of war in the name of God that has disfigured religion in Sudan. The Church hopes and prays that the peace signed will not remain just a piece of paper as has often happened in my Country".
The agreements were signed at two different times to highlight different contexts. The first concerned Darfur - where a war broke out in 2003 that caused over 300,000 dead and 2.5 million internally and externally displaced in just a few years. The second was dedicated to the open issues in the States of South Kordofan and the Blue Nile where the conflict affected one million people.
Also Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, vice-president of the Sovereign Council and leaders of the rebels, had to physically put a signature, in an atmosphere of general satisfaction also highlighted by traditional music performed by an orchestra that accompanied all the sessions. The agreement comes about a year late due to the infinite and delicate issues to be addressed: "When the 'Juba Declaration' was issued, in September one year ago - said Prime Minister Hamdok on the sidelines of the meeting - they all expected peace to be signed within three months at the latest, but we immediately realized how very complex the open questions were". (LA) (Agenzia Fides, 5/9/2020)