War (again) in Sudan?

By May 25, 2011

Sudan (MNN) — Many Sudanese fear that civil war may be ignited again due to disputes over the highly coveted border town of Abyei.

Saturday night, the northern Sudanese army invaded Abyei. The oil-rich city has been a source of constant conflict for North and South Sudan, especially since 98% of voters approved the split between the country halves in January. Hundreds of deaths over the last few weeks have been linked to clashes over control of the city.

The loyalty of Abyei to either side was to be decided in January when the South voted on secession. The vote was postponed due to disagreements over voter eligibility.

According to Open Doors, USA, the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) — which promised residents of Abyei a referendum to decide whether the territory would belong to the South or North — stipulates that voting rights should be given to the Ngok Dinka and "other Sudanese residing in the area."

The National Congress Party (NCP) thinks the semi-nomadic cattle herders who spend up to six months of the year in Abyei–the Misseriya–should be considered residents.

The Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) claims the Misseriya are ineligible. SPLM has also accused the North of building permanent structures for the Misseriya in Ngok-Dinka northern areas of Abyei, hoping that more votes for Abyei go to the North.

The Dinka and the Misseriya historically don't get along, despite efforts to unite them.

In January, one Misseriya leader told the BBC, "Abyei for us is a matter of survival, so we will fight until the last man. You either live on the surface or you are buried underground, and we're ready to sacrifice everything."

Meanwhile, believers see no need for violence. The Sudan Council of Churches (SCC) at its 18th General Assembly on May 9 stated: "We know that violence in all its forms always breeds violence, and violence will never be the way to settle grievances. With the prospects of two nations emerging from the old Sudan, we affirm our unity as the Church of Jesus Christ, both in the North and in the South."

Pray for Sudanese Christians to continue to react in a way that reflects Christ, that lives might even be saved instead of destroyed.

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