Conflict Resolution

Peace Negotiation Process in Sudan

Wadim Procel & Prof. Piotr Jednaszewski asked:

Sudan seems to be an independent country, however under strong influence of different ethnic and religious conflicts it is torn among different ethnic and religious groups. To certain extend we could compare situation in Sudan to the political situation in India before Rajiv Gandhi.

There was a leader needed who was able to show to all of different fighting groups for the local independence a common aim to achieve, global independence of the whole country. All of those people had to learn how to respect other groups, their tradition and religion. There is no possibility of uniting the nation without common understanding among all of the groups fighting for freedom.

Someone could say that the political situation in Sudan is stable apart form the civil war going on in the south of Sudan, between government forces and Christian separatist. Hence is we perceive a country as one organism then we have to admit that the country is the state of war for about fifty years.

The question is what shall be done to heal that situation. But we cannot heal the political situation not coming back to the origins of the conflict and differences which in the course of time became more and more painful for all of the groups involved. And then analyzing those differences in the light of historical aspects we may endeavor to find a platform for communication.

It should be noted that there is no democratic system in Sudan and the politics of that country is controlled by the Muslims. As a result of such situation public media are under control of government. On the other hand, large parts of Sudanese life cannot be monitored by the officials and people can express their opinions.

Just a few facts to see the situation in 20th century:

The 20th century saw the growth of Sudanese nationalism, and in 1953 Egypt and Britain granted Sudan self-government. Independence was proclaimed on Jan. 1, 1956. Since independence, Sudan has been ruled by a series of unstable parliamentary governments and military regimes. Under Maj. Gen. Gaafar Mohamed Nimeiri, Sudan instituted fundamentalist Islamic law in 1983. This exacerbated the rift between the Arab north, the seat of the government, and the black African animists and Christians in the south. Differences in language, religion, ethnicity, and political power erupted in an unending civil war between government forces, strongly influenced by the National Islamic Front (NIF) and the southern rebels, whose most influential faction is the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA). Human rights violations, religious persecution, and allegations that Sudan had been a safe haven for terrorists isolated the country from most of the international community. In 1995, the UN imposed sanctions against it. Source:

Having three different religions lets look at their definitions presented in Wikipedia and then analyze the common ground, as the peace negotiation process shall be started from finding and understanding the cultural values governing the norms and different methods to protect that what people believe in:

Animism commonly refers to belief systems that attribute souls or spirits to animals, plants and other entities, in addition to humans. In a broader sense of the word, animism is simply the belief in souls, a belief present in nearly all religions. 

Christianity is a monotheistic religion centered on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as presented in the New Testament.

Its followers, known as Christians, believe that Jesus is the son of God and the Messiah (or Christ) prophesied in the Old Testament, the part of their scriptures they have in common with Judaism. To Christians, Jesus Christ is a teacher, the model of a virtuous life, the revealer of God, and most importantly the saviour of humanity who suffered, died, and was resurrected in order to bring about salvation from sin. Christians maintain that Jesus ascended into heaven, and most denominations teach that Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead, granting everlasting life to his followers. Christians describe the New Testament account of Jesus’ ministry as the Gospel, or “good news”.

Like Judaism and Islam, Christianity is classified as an Abrahamic religion.

Islam  is a monotheistic Abrahamic religion originating with the teachings of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, a seventh century Arab religious and political figure. The word Islam means “submission”, or the total surrender of oneself to God (Arabic: ????, All?h). An adherent of Islam is known as a Muslim, meaning “one who submits [to God]”. There are between 1 billion to 1.8 billion Muslims, making Islam the second-largest religion in the world, after Christianity.

The Qur’an states that all Muslims must believe in God, his revelations, his angels, his messengers, and in the “Day of Judgment”.

As presented above all three religions have one common ground – belief in eternal life, belief that there is a sole in a human being, belief that the spiritual world exists. This is the basic platform which shall be acknowledged while building the mutual understanding and trust among all of the fighting groups. It might seem difficult to start uniting those nations from referring to values they fight for, however people involved in war don`t think about the values but only about revenge. If the values were thought of then there would be no wars.

Following that pattern of thinking the talks at the negotiation table should start from the system, if we could dare to call it a system, used by the pope John Paul the II to unite all religions. Representatives of all religions prayed together and then talked together. Mutual understanding of the same but differently perceived values led to unity in the world full of prejudice and bias.

We believe that the conflict resolution in Sudan can be only achieved through the same approach. There is a strong need for all involved parties to sit round the negotiation table and start from acknowledging the values deeply engraved in spiritual world.

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