The Sudanese church leaders have been monitoring events following the resumption of the peace talks between the Government of the Sudan (GoS) and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, with much anxiety and concern. The gross violation of the Memorandum of Understanding regarding cessation of hostilities by the GoS, resulting in the attack of SPLM/A positions in Upper Nile and the subsequent capture of Leer town on January 26, is an apparent indication of a flagrant attempt to jeopardise the peace talks.
It was indeed unfortunate that the two parties to the ongoing conflict could engage in trading hostilities as the talks were underway. That the GoS violated the MOU on the cessation of hostilities was a clear indication of a lack of seriousness on its part. The renewal of hostilities between the two parties should be stifled to avoid the dashing of hopes rekindled by the Machakos Protocol, which is a blueprint for the realisation of peace in the Sudan.
In order to sustain the peoples' hope, we appeal to the warring parties to cease hostilities and give peace a chance. The Sudan peace talks have reached a crucial stage with renewed enthusiasm, as the international community is watching with great expectations. We therefore urge the negotiators to maintain the momentum of the peace talks by negotiating in good faith.
The Sudanese people have been consumed by the debilitating culture of war. They badly want peace. They want peace in order to rebuild and rehabilitate their broken lives. They want peace that guarantees stability and development. They want peace with justice.
We also appeal to the international community, especially the facilitators of the Sudanese peace talks, to commit the negotiators to serious discussion that will culminate in a just and durable peaceful settlement to the twenty-year-old conflict.
It is our belief and hope that the GoS and the SPLM/A will heed to the cries of the Sudanese people by fully committing themselves to end the war; and to alleviate the untold suffering of the Sudanese people who deserve a break from the perpetual cycle of violence and its attendant by products.
The Sudanese church leaders would like to challenge the moral obligation of the two parties to respect and commit themselves to the 15 October Memorandum of Understanding, signed between the GoS and the SPLM/A on the cessation of hostilities. The MOU was renewed on November 8, effecting the cessation of hostilities as from 1 January -31March, "the period which the parties shall continue to negotiate outstanding issues."
The Sudanese people have paid dearly with their blood in this war. It is therefore high time that they should reap the benefits of peace and tranquillity in their lifetime. May the grace of God almighty be upon the peace negotiators so that as they discuss peace they should put humanity first before anything else.
The Revd Dr Haruun L Ruun
New Sudan Council of Churches