November 5, 2009

Sudan peace debated in British parliament

Parliamentarians in the British House of Lords explored the peace agreement, voter registration, the upcoming elections and the referendum of 2011 in an hour long session on Wednesday, November 4. The complete text runs about 4 pages.

It seems that the purpose of the debate was to "call for further efforts by Her Majesty’s Government as a guarantor of the CPA to avert an unimaginable disaster among our friends."

The text provides an excellent review of the current situation. Many problems are identified.
Crucial to the implementation of the CPA is the national census. On its basis constituencies will be decided, the internal border drawn, and any referendum about secession taken. Yet this census was conducted a year late in 2008 and the results, released in June this year, were rejected outright by the Government of Southern Sudan, all the state governors and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, following its claims that south Sudanese make up only 21 per cent of the population. SPLM officials have said that they estimate Southern Sudan to account for a third of Sudan's population and that they will not accept figures less than that. The 92 per cent increase in south Darfur's population is also considered fraudulent.
The role of church leaders in trying to win a peace is noted.
John, the Bishop of Ezo, has pushed ahead with his school-building programme, gaining with the DfID funders a significant reputation for the Episcopal Church in Sudan, as almost the only body that sticks with people when other NGOs have pulled back to Yambio.
Archbishop Daniel Deng  has been criss-crossing the country since his enthronement, witnessing at first hand the suffering that the people are experiencing, especially in the south. At Easter he visited the Nuer area of Ayod. He was one of a group of Dinkas. He spoke of love and peace between the tribes and discovered, after he had returned to Juba, that the trouble between the two tribes—the cattle rustling and the violence—had stopped.
Baronness Cox offered five concerns, one of which was that southern leaders have suffered under the current unified Sudan, and feel that their only hope for freedom and justice lies in independence.

She ended her comment with this paragraph.
The comprehensive peace agreement is the only hope on the horizon for peace and alleviation of suffering for the people of Sudan who have suffered too much, too long. But it is fragile and inevitably some do not wish it to proceed. The Sudanese look to the United Kingdom as a special friend, but also as the nation which has a historic responsibility to help them in these critical times. I trust that history will show that we fulfil that responsibility honourably.

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