The transitional government of Sudan, which removed long-time dictator, Omar al-Bashir, after 30 years of oppressive rule last year, has announced that the state will no longer discriminate on the basis of religion.
Separating Sharia from the State
Last week, three resistance groups, representing Darfur, the Blue Nile and the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan, signed an agreement with Sudan’s transitional government prime minister, Abdalla Hamdok. This document, in principle, agreed to separate Islamic Sharia law from the state. This comes after three decades of Islamic Sharia law under dictator Omar al-Bashir, in Sudan.
The Declaration of Principles signed in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on Thursday, 3 September, declares: “The state shall not establish an official religion. No citizen shall be discriminated against based on their religion… Sudan is a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural society. Full recognition and accommodation of these diversities must be affirmed.”
The transition government of Sudan and the Resistance movements have agreed to establish informal negotiation workshops to resolve contentious issues, such as the right to self-determination of all citizens.
Confronting Root Causes of the Conflict
The Declaration came four days after the transitional government agreed to a deal in Juba, South Sudan, with a coalition of Resistance forces raising hopes that the long running wars in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan may be coming to an end. Hamdok and al-Hilu declared that they believe it is necessary to achieve a comprehensive and just political solution to all of Sudan’s conflicts, one that addresses “the root causes of the crisis” which have devastated the country for many decades.
Backlash Opposition Anticipated
Mohammed Ali Fazari, editor in chief of the English newspaper, Khartoum Today, warned that pro-Islamicist political parties will inevitably criticise the transitional government for agreeing to discuss the relationship between Islamic Sharia law and the state and the right to self-determination for the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan and the Blue Nile regions where the SPLM-North has been fighting for secession for years. “This is a very controversial point within six principles of the declaration. I think this point is going to complicate the situation with the Islamicists, who will refuse this and also other parties in the forces of freedom and change in government.”
Pray for Sudan
Please continue to pray for the Christians in Sudan and for our ongoing mission projects in the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan. “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the Word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have Faith.” 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2
For the background to this colossal conflict, see: Sudan in Crisis at a Crossroads.
To understand the position of the Nuba Christians, an island of Christianity in a sea of Islam, see the film: Missions to the Nuba Mountains of Sudan (also available in German and French).
To understand Sudan’s history, read Faith Under Fire in Sudan.
Dr. Peter Hammond
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa
An Overview of History in Sudan
Why Did Christianity Die Out in Northern Sudan?