Sudan

Group Calls on British Government to Support Cause of Peace in Sudan

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News Release
The London-based Sudan Foundation, an independent and non-aligned
organisation, today calls on the British Government to support the cause
of peace and reconciliation in Sudan. It has written to 5,000 British
politicians, academics, Muslim and Christian community leaders and other
opinion formers, asking them to add their voices to the call for peace.

In a report issued today - The Civil War and Peace Process in Sudan: A
Brief Account - the Foundation's Director, Sean Gabb, describes the
origins and course of the Sudanese civil war. Since 1955, that war has
resulted in perhaps three million deaths and reduced a country to
poverty that ought to be one of richest in Africa. Foreign involvement
in the war has been considerable. The US Government, in particular, has
been accused of destabilising Sudan.

According to Sean Gabb:

The causes of the war do not reduce to any one simple formula.
It has not just been a war of southern against northern Sudan, nor
Christian against Muslim, nor African against Arab. It has instead been
a complex blend of rivalries within one of the most culturally and
ethnically diverse nations in the world. It has also been a war in which
both sides have been too finely balanced to allow either a decisive
victory.

Since 1989, the Sudanese Government and sections of the southern
Sudanese opposition have been engaged in attempts to negotiate a
peaceful resolution of the war. Over twenty different rounds of peace
talks culminated in a formal peace agreement signed in Khartoum on 21st
April this year between the Government and most leading rebel groups.

The main aspects of the agreement include:

That all fundamental human rights and freedoms, such as freedom
of religion, expression, association and assembly, and the press, shall
be guaranteed.

That there shall be a free and fair - and internationally
monitored - referendum m southern Sudan after four years, to determine
whether the people of the south desire independence or federation.

That southerners are to be equitably represented in all
constitutional, legislative and executive organs at the Federal level. A
25-member Coordinating Council of southerners, chaired by a southern
President, shall be established in the interim period.

That the country shall continue in the interim to be governed
along the lines of a federal state, with each of 26 States having wide
autonomy in matters of religion and criminal law

Additionally the Government has accepted the declaration of principles
of the regional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development as the basis
for a continuing search for peace.

According to Sean Gabb:

The April 21st peace agreement is not merely the best chance of
a just and lasting peace in Sudan. It is the only chance. For it not to
succeed would be a disaster not only for the Sudanese people but for the
region as a whole. The chaos and violence of the Rwanda and other
countries within the Great Lakes region of Africa provide a stark lesson
to us all.

Unfortunately, one rebel group, led by John Garang, has yet to
join the peace process. Worse, foreign powers, including the Americans,
Ethiopians, Eritreans, Ugandans and others, are still interfering in
Sudan and funding military incursions.

In the light of the many steps to peace already taken, the Sudan
Foundation is calling upon all people of goodwill to raise this issue
with the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Robin Cook, asking:

That the British government give its full and constructive
backing to the Sudanese peace process, both as a government and within
the European Union and United Nations;

That the British government take an active interest in the
internal application of the Sudanese peace agreement, offering if
necessary mediation, advice and logistical support;

That the British government actively encourage John Garang to
come into the peace process, where his presence will be welcomed by both
the Sudanese government and his fellow colleagues in the rebel movement.

The Sudan Foundation

212 Piccadilly
London WC1V 9LD
United Kingdom

Telephone: 0171 917 1854
International: **44 171 917 1854
Fax: 0171 439 0262
E-Mail: main@sufo.demon.co.uk
WebPage: http://www.sufo.demon.co.uk/