Apprehension remains as Sudan inches toward civilian rule

By August 6, 2019

Sudan (MNN) — Sudan is one step closer to civilian rule. Believers are hopeful, yet wary.

Military and opposition leaders reportedly signed a constitutional declaration on Sunday. The accord builds upon a previous power-sharing agreement established in July. “[On] July 17th they signed a power-sharing agreement which contained – in very broad outlines – what the future ruling system would be, or at least in the interim period,” explains Daniel Hoffman of Middle East Concern.

“Now, in the constitutional declaration, they give it more details.”

Protestors and others invested in Sudan’s transformation received the news with mixed responses. “Some of them say it’s not enough,” shares Hoffman.

“[Others] say, ‘well, it’s a start at least. Let’s celebrate the fact that some steps were set in the right direction.’”

What does this mean for Sudan’s Christians?

(Photo courtesy of Open Doors USA)

Like the rest of Sudanese society, believers hope Sunday’s development is one more step toward positive change. “They were, and are still, hoping that there will be a peaceful transition… into a more open government,” Hoffman explains.

“A government that will rule justly; that will have the wellbeing of its citizens as its aim and not just perpetuating its own rule.”

However, doubt remains for some Christian leaders. As explained here by Middle East Concern, Sudanese believers face intense pressure. Islamic law governs Muslim-majority Sudan, and religious freedom – while theoretically allowed by Sudan’s Constitution – is denied in practice.

Initially, Bashir’s ouster encouraged Sudanese Christians. “About a week after the fall of then-President Bashir, the Transitional Military Council (TMC) called the church leaders for a meeting,” Hoffman says. During the meeting, TMC leaders asked about the churches’ difficulties and how the TMC could help.

The next day, Hoffman says, “a solution to some of the problems in the educational system was announced. So, they were very hopeful.”

Their hope began to sour in recent weeks when a court case against a major denomination was re-started. Officials associated with Bashir’s regime brought legal actions against the leaders of the Sudan Church of Christ, a major denomination. They were “trying to take over the whole leadership of the denomination,” Hoffman explains.

Thankfully, “the court ruled in favor of the church” in that case. “But, then the government appealed that decision and now the court case will be redone,” Hoffman continues.

“The Church is worried that – in these problems they are facing through the legal system – not much has changed so far.”

How to help

(Photo courtesy of Open Doors USA)

Now that you know, will you pray? Ask the Lord to encourage believers in Sudan. “I know that will be a great encouragement for our brothers and sisters there, knowing that people in America and other places in the world are praying for them,” Hoffman says.

Pray also for Sudan’s top authorities as they make decisions and walk through the power-sharing process. As BBC News explains, a military leader will head Sudan’s “sovereign council” for the first 21 months of the transition period. Then, a civilian leader will take rule for the next 18 months.

“The fear is that the military will use those initial 21 months to entrench their interests, and to make it much more difficult for the civilian Chair… to undo some of the changes that the military did,” Hoffman explains.

“The military regime that supported the government had almost 30 years to entrench themselves in the society and economic system, in the security system, etc. They have used that time well, so it will not be easy to get rid of them completely.”

 

 

Header image is a screenshot obtained from Prayercast | Sudan.

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