Sudan took a step toward peace July 20 when the Islamic government and southern rebels signed an interim peace agreement. As part of the deal, the South will hold an internationally supervised referendum on independence after six years of autonomous rule. Other details of the agreement have yet to be ironed out, but both sides say they will continue talks.

Nina Shea, director for religious freedom at Washington-based Freedom House, says she wants to see specifics. "It's just a framework," Shea says. "We have a long road to go, fraught with perils over the six-year lifeline."

Like other Christian activists, Shea says she believes the United States will be a key player in keeping the plan on track. To keep the pressure on, Shea will participate in seven days of prayer vigils this month outside the State Department.

"We're moving along the lines of the campaign against apartheid in South Africa and putting our feet where our mouths are, and indicat[ing] to the administration that more has to be done," Faith McDonnell of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, a Washington-based nonprofit, told Christianity Today.

The Sudan Coalition, a loose network of mostly evangelical groups, is recruiting 175 churches to participate. "We really want to be led by the churches, because the main focus of persecution in the Sudan is Christians, and the Christian church in America has not done enough," McDonnell says.

Meanwhile, the Sudan Peace Act, designed to punish the regime, remains stalled in Congress (CT, Nov. 12, 2001, p. 23). Only the House version contains capital-market sanctions, which would bar foreign companies doing business in Sudan from being traded on American stock exchanges.

An executive order in 1997 barred American companies ...

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