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Sudanese bishops appeal for help as key national referendum approaches

Catholic World News - November 15, 2010

The Catholic bishops of Sudan have appealed to Church leaders in other African countries for support for the people of southern Sudan, as the nation approaches a critical referendum on partition.

The 2005 peace accord that ended Africa’s longest and bloodiest civil war called for a referendum in January 2011, in which the people of southern Sudan—who had been warring against the national government dominated by the Islamic north—would be given a chance to choose autonomy. As the date of that vote approaches, observers fear that the long war between north and south could break out anew. The Catholic bishops have asked for help in alerting other African nations to the need for a fair vote and peaceful implementation of the people’s wishes.

“All indications are that national unity has not been made attractive to the people of southern Sudan,” the bishops report, indicating that the results of a referendum seem inevitable.

The people of southern Sudan, the bishops say, are unwilling to accept “the highly centralized system of government controlled by small ethnic group which has imposed its system of administration on the whole country through Islamization of the laws, institutions, and political systems.”

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