When President Bush signed the Sudan Peace Act last October 21, he told Christian and religious liberty activists, "I will not forget Sudan. And if I do, I know that you will prod me."

Now some activists are saying: Let the prodding begin.

The act gave the Muslim government six months to begin negotiating with the Sudan People's Liberation Movement rebels. Under the act, if Sudan fails to negotiate in good faith or blocks humanitarian relief efforts, the President has the discretion to impose sanctions or take other punitive measures (CT, Dec. 9, 2002, p. 17).

On April 22, six months after the signing of the peace act, Bush acknowledged "sporadic military activities," but said both sides were negotiating in good faith and should continue talks. He did not impose any sanctions.

Nevertheless, observers cite numerous violations by the Islamist government in Khartoum. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom said an independent civilian monitoring team in February reported numerous lethal attacks on civilian targets.

The commission also said the government may be using the cease-fire to rearm and strengthen garrisons in the south—"from which it could launch devastating offensives should the peace talks end in failure."

Richard Cizik, the National Association of Evangelicals' vice president of governmental affairs, told Christianity Today, "It looks like we have to hold two governments—the United States and Sudan—accountable."

Faith McDonnell of the Institute on Religion and Democracy was "not surprised" but "very disappointed" by the President's statement. She said a coalition of religious-liberty and human-rights groups would launch a massive letter-writing campaign to Congress, the State Department, and the President. She also said human-rights groups would organize demonstrations.

"There are now no consequences for the Sudan government's actions," McDonnell said. "And, when there are no consequences, the pattern for governments like this is to violate agreements in a more aggressive manner."

Not all believe Sudan is violating the peace agreement.

World Vision's Tom Mulhearn in Kenya said he is "disappointed with the slow progress of the peace talks, but there have been no flagrant violations."

The 20-year war has claimed 2 million lives and displaced 4 million people.

Related Elsewhere

For more articles on Sudan see Christianity Today's World Report or Yahoo full coverage.

Our earlier coverage of the Sudan conflict includes:

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Sudan Peace Act 'Has Teeth' | But sanctions are at President's discretion. (Nov. 26, 2002)
Christians Push For More Progress in Sudan | Observers say there's a long road to go for peace. (Sept. 4, 2002)
Legacy of an Ancient Pact | Why do Christians still chafe under restrictions in some Muslim nations? It all started with Umar. (July 26, 2002)
Weblog: Peace For Sudan? | Both sides agree to secession for southern Sudan. (July 22, 2002)
A Cry for Help | Sudanese Christians gather in Houston and ask for U.S. support. (June 27, 2002)
Slave Redemption | Americans are becoming instant abolitionists. But is the movement backfiring? (Aug. 9, 1999)
Freedom Panel Alleges Genocide | U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom makes suggestion on Sudan's worsening abuses. (May 4, 2001)
Turn Off Sudan's Oil Wells, Say Canadian Church Visitors | Christian leaders say they are "outraged" that a Canadian oil company is paying huge royalties to Sudanese government. (Apr. 20, 2001)
The Maturing of Victimhood | A new exhibit at the Holocaust Museum is a very good sign. (Mar. 29, 2001)
Sudan Loses Election for U.N. Security Council Seat | Sanctions continue to plague the African nation's bid for international acceptance. (Oct. 12, 2000)
Southern Sudan Bombed Despite Cease-fire Promise | Details sketchy from town of Yei, near Democratic Republic of the Congo. (May 8, 2000)
Editorial: Confronting Sudan's Evils | Western Christians and governments should press Khartoum on multiple fronts. (Apr. 12, 2000)
Sudan Relief Operations Endangered | Rebel demands cause agencies to curtail efforts. (April 3, 2000)
Bombs Continue to Fall on Ministry Hospitals in Sudan | Samaritan's Purse hit for fourth time, two killed in Voice of the Martyrs bombing. (March 24, 2000)
Mixing Oil and Blood | Sudan's 'slaughter of the innocents' toughens religious freedom coalition. (Mar. 15, 2000)
Protest Begins as White House Rethinks Policy on Sudan Regime | Religious leaders urge Clinton administration to act against oppression. (Feb. 10, 2000)
Christian Solidarity Loses U.N. Status | Slave-freeing organization's rebel spokesman violated U.N. rules (Dec. 14, 1999)
Sudan Releases Jailed Catholic Priests | President Resolves Impasse in Contrived Bombing Trial (Dec. 13, 1999)
Jailed Sudanese Priests Reject Presidential Amnesty | Clerics waiting for 'total acquittal' by courts. (Dec. 6, 1999)
Oil Exports Draw Protests | Christians urge divestment from Canadian company (Nov. 15, 1999)
Starvation Puts 150,000 at Risk (Sept. 6,1999)
The Price of a Slave | "I was taken by a slave master [who] beat me and shamed me, telling me that I was like a dog." (Feb. 8, 1999)
Sudanese Christians Bloody, but Unbowed (Aug. 10, 1998)
How Apin Akot Redeemed His Daughter (Mar. 2, 1998)
Muslim-Christian Conflicts May Destabilize East Africa | Christians raped, forced into slavery, and killed. (Apr. 29, 1996)

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