There certainly was reason for rejoicing last week when Sudan's Muslim-Arabic controlled government based in the north and rebels (Sudanese People's Liberation Army) from the largely Christian/animist south signed a historic peace agreement in Kenya after months of negotiations.
After the signing, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said, "The people of Sudan can now hope for a new future of peace and prosperity. The United States is deeply committed to assist in the implementation of the peace agreement and in the process of reconstruction and development."
The agreement set the terms for a political power-sharing transitional government and the status of three disputed regions in the south. The accord also provides for a split in oil revenues, the maintenance of separate armies with integrated forces deployed in strategic areas and a future referendum allowing southerners to decide whether to remain part of the country or break away.
Africa's longest running civil war has claimed more than 2 million livesmostly civilians who died from famine and diseaseand displaced over 4 million.
Sudanese Christians have been caught in the crossfire of the civil war with many being tortured, raped and killed. Christian villages, churches, schools and hospitals in the south have often been attacked, bombed and burned. The south has been devastated, making Sudan one of the poorest countries in the world.
While the peace accord is certainly good news for a country where atrocities, starvation and bloody fighting have become a way of life, the agreement seems to raise more questions than it answers. Questions as:
- Can agreement on the details of a permanent ceasefire, including provisions for international peacekeepers, be reached during final talks, which resume June 22?
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