Voters in southern Sudan continue this week to cast ballots on whether or not to declare independence from the north. “This is a day like no other in the history of Southern Sudan,” Chan Reec Madut, the deputy head of the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission said on Sunday, January 9. It marked the day that the Sudan’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) entered its final phase with the commencement of the long-awaited referendum. The referendum, one of the requirements of the 2005 peace agreement that ended decades of civil war in Sudan, could result in the birth of the world’s newest state.
In an encouraging letter to their brethren in the South, Christians and church leaders in Northern Sudan urged Southern Sudanese Christians to use this historic moment of self determination as an opportunity to learn from the devastating mistakes made by Northern governments. They urged them to also choose democracy over repression, embrace diversity over division, defend human rights and justice over abuses, empower transparency and accountability over corruption and nepotism, and promote equality between men and women over discrimination. Open Doors’ this week received a message from our country coordinator saying; “Some people in Juba were in tears, and others were dancing as we watched on TV; so amazing that God can do such an incredible thing.”
Tensions however remain high in the border region of Abyei where clashes have killed more than 20 people. Abyei, considered a flashpoint district, sits on Sudan’s ill-defined north-south border. It is seen as a microcosm of most of the conflicts that have split Sudan for decades. Polling in the region has been postponed indefinitely after neither side was able to agree on who should be eligible to participate in the vote. Polling however in most regions in Sudan continues until the end of the week. Christians in Sudan have asked for our prayers during this pivotal time in the nation’s history.
Father, as we join in prayer with Christians and churches in North and South Sudan, we ask for optimum results in the region whereby all Sudanese would benefit. And, as grateful as we are for this time in history, we know that the referendum may bring a shock to Sudan’s political and economical system. Father, may Your grace and wisdom guide church and governmental leaders in the days ahead, and may Your church play an active role in peace- making as they trust You to work out Your will for Sudan. Father, we thank You in advance for Your presence in the midst of the historic elections, giving You all the glory as we celebrate with our brothers and sisters in Sudan. Amen.
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Over the next 10 weeks Open Doors will host a countdown of the top ten countries on the 2011 World Watch List (WWL). Due to the recent political and social instability in the last few months, we will go against the “norm” and begin the countdown with the country listed in the eleventh position, Pakistan.