Sudan: On the Brink

By: Elizabeth Kendal

In summary: the 11-13 April elections, which are integral to the peace process, are already totally compromised to the advantage of the genocidal Arab Islamist regime in Khartoum.

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 050 | Wed 07 April 2010

SUDAN: ON THE BRINK

In 1983 Sudan's Arab Islamist military dictator, Jaafar Numeiri, advanced his policy of national Islamisation by enacting Sharia Law (Islamic Law) across the whole of Sudan. When the African, predominantly Christian and animist Southerners resisted, Khartoum responded with Islamic jihad. For the next 21 years the Southern Sudanese suffered constant aerial bombardment, scorched-earth raids, enslavement, chemical weapons and government-made famines that could wipe out up to 100,000 Southerners in a couple of months (as in the Bahr El Ghazal famine of 1998).

On 2 Jan 2005 the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM, representing the Southerners) and the Arab Islamic Government of Sudan (GoS) signed a Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) ending the war. According to the CPA a referendum on Southern self-determination must be held in January 2011, giving the government six years to 'make unity attractive'. During the interim period, all the various opposition groups from across the country were to be brought into a truly comprehensive peace process through participation in a democratically elected representative government. The CPA mandated that the elections be held by July 2009. Opposition groups planned to make a united stand against the regime and remove it democratically. The ultimate hope was that by January 2011, buoyed by the emergence of a united, secular, rights-respecting, democratic Sudan, the oil-rich South could be convinced to stay.

However, the Arab Islamist regime has done everything in its power to obstruct the process, including actively destabilising whole regions through conflict. Originally scheduled for July 2009, the elections have been postponed twice and are now due to be held over 11-13 April 2010. But the process has already been irredeemably compromised. A preparatory census was taken to determine legislative power in the national assembly, where constituencies will be weighted to local population. The census, however, was rigged. As many as 4-5 million Southerners displaced by war into the north have been counted as Northerners. Though some three million non-Arab Darfuris have also been disenfranchised due to displacement, the population of Darfur has exploded with a reported 322 percent increase in nomadic Arabs! (Reeves, June 2009.) According to reports, the Janjaweed militias have not only ethnically cleansed whole towns of Darfuris, they have repopulated those towns with nomadic Arabs from neighbouring Chad, Niger and Mali, issuing them with Sudanese ID papers. Thus the regime has not only succeeded in robbing the Southerners of a large portion of their demographic base, it has totally changed the demography of Darfur -- all to its own advantage.

The ruling Arab Islamist regime (the National Congress Party, formerly the National Islamic Front) intends not only to win the elections to legitimise its power, but to secure a 75 percent majority in the National Assembly. It could then achieve its main aim of amending the Constitution and re-writing -- maybe even tearing up -- the CPA.

In summary: the 11-13 April elections, which are integral to the peace process, are already totally compromised to the advantage of the genocidal Arab Islamist regime in Khartoum. As members of the SPLM-led National Consensus (a coalition of opposition parties) have started voicing their intent to join the SPLM in their boycott of the elections, President al-Bashir has started threatening to cancel the referendum on Southern self-determination. Dark storm clouds of war are looming ominously over Sudan. If the clouds burst, the Church in Sudan will face faith-testing times. Please pray for Sudan's long-suffering, faithful, growing and yet seriously threatened Church.