Sudan: Church leaders want international support for peace

NAIROBI, 4 March (IRIN) - Southern Sudanese church leaders have welcomed the ongoing peace process aimed at ending the country's protracted civil war, but have called for urgent, internationally suported measures to guarantee a "just and sustainable" peace agreement.
The church leaders who last week attended an ecumenical meeting in Pretoria, South Africa, also demanded an end to 20 years of fighting between the Khartoum government and the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army, to alleviate the suffering of the people of southern Sudan.

The forum, which took place between 24 and 26 February, also brought together more than 60 senior representatives of the churches in Sudan and their international church partners."The war in Sudan must stop now - our people have died enough," the church leaders said in a communiqué issued after the forum.

They hailed recent significant progress made in the talks between the warring parties, currently underway in Kenya. In particular, they welcomed a framework agreed upon last year incorporating the right of self-determination for the people of South Sudan.

"We strongly commend the cessation of hostilities achieved in most parts of the south and urge that it be fully respected and continued while the parties strive to achieve a successful conclusion to the peace talks," the communiqué stated.

The communiqué also drew attention to a number of obstacles that threatened the prospects of peace, including violations of the cessation of hostilities accord.

The religious leaders also warned against further mobilisation and forced recruitment by the warring parties. They called for international guarantees and monitoring mechanisms for a comprehensive ceasefire, including unimpeded humanitarian access to all areas and the protection of civilians in disputed areas.


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