Sudan (MNN) — For years, Sudan has suffered the devastating effects of war and genocide. However, on October 3, Sudanese officials will come together with rebel leaders from the Sudan Revolutionary Front in Juba, South Sudan to sign a long-awaited and historic peace agreement.
A Rocky Road to Peace
In April 2019, protestors angry with the 30-year tumultuous reign of Omar al-Bashir filled the streets of Khartoum. In response, military generals installed a junta, forcing al-Bashir out of office as they took control.
Mid-August, in an effort to demonstrate a dedication to peace and under international pressure, the new leaders agreed to share power with civilians in a cooperative council.
As they began the long road toward peace, the new government signed a deal with an alliance of rebel groups on August 31, 2019. This first step outlined a three-year transition to a new constitution and democratic elections.
The upcoming October 3rd meeting, after a year of negotiations, puts forth a deal that outlines preliminary steps toward power-sharing, the integration of rebel forces into the army, the return and compensation of displaced people, and the first steps of transitional justice.
Will the Agreement Truly Bring Peace?
The deal is historic. Retired Bishop Enoch Tombe, a respected leader of the South Sudanese Church and a representative of Faith-Based Organizations during the South Sudanese peace agreement, remains cautiously optimistic. He explains that while this is important and a momentous agreement, negotiations take time.
“We have not signed the one from Darfur and one from Southern Kordofan, which are really key armies. They have not signed the agreement. But at least one of them, al-Hilu, has signed a separate [agreement]. There is going to be another negotiation here in Juba. So we will hope that if he also signs, then the last one, al-Nur, he might also sign if he’s encouraged to do so. So it’s a process, you know, peace is a process. It takes time.”
A Critical Step
The peace agreement negotiated in Juba is critical for the people of Sudan but also is important to South Sudan. Tombe says the South Sudanese people believe they can help Sudan because they were involved in a parallel struggle. Their leadership understands those who have been marginalized and discriminated against.
“They think that having learned from the past, we are in a really well place to help them,” Tombe says. “And so our president and the leaders of South Sudan took the chance to do the mediation because they feel comfortable, because we are the same people. In fact, they keep talking about one people in two countries, Sudan and South Sudan – but it’s the same people.”
Tombe says conducting the negotiations in Juba also gives South Sudan credibility on the world stage.
Agreements bring hope, but Tombe encourages the global Church to get involved.
“I think you [can] pray for the war to stop in both countries. And then much more than that, please try to support us – the churches both in the two countries – to reach the poorest of the poor. Like Jesus said, ‘When I was hungry, you gave me food. When I was thirsty, you gave me water to drink.’”
Practical help will be the key to the Gospel moving forward in Sudan as people try to recover and regain normalcy.
“For the people to recover from these wars – long, long wars – I think we have to be able to stand on our own feet. Churches, for example, need to be rebuilt, pastors need to be trained, even Bibles need to be supplied in different languages.”
Please join Bishop Tombe in praying for lasting peace to come to Sudan. Pray that peace talks and treaties would bring about freedom for Christians to worship without persecution. And pray that God would provide training, Bibles and strong leadership for the Church in Sudan.
Header image courtesy of Open Doors USA.