“Ceasefire still holds (despite) outbreaks of tribal conflict in Darfur”: Sudanese Bishop

Bishop Yunan Tombe Trille of Sudan’s El Obeid Diocese.

The peace deal signed close to ten months ago between the government of  Sudan and the rebel coalition of fighters that saw the two parties agree to a cessation of hostilities on all war fronts seems to be holding the country together despite some cases of tribal conflicts in the region of Darfur, a Bishop in the two-diocese nation has reported.

"The first good news to report is that the ceasefire still holds up in the country,” Bishop Yunan Tombe Trille of Sudan’s El Obeid Diocese told Agenzia Fides.

He added in the report published Wednesday, July 29, “Of course, there are still many aspects to be addressed and also some outbreaks of inter-ethnic or tribal conflict in Darfur that had never happened before, but we can say we are satisfied.”

The October 21, 2019  agreement was signed by Mohamed Hamdan Dagolo, the Deputy Chairman of the Sudan Sovereign Council, and Alhadi Idriss, the Chairman of the rebel coalition of the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF), which represents fighters in areas including Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan.

During the signing ceremony that took place in neighboring South Sudan, the leaders of both sides confirmed their commitment towards bringing peace in Sudan that has experienced tensions since December 2018 when then President Omar al-Bashir's government imposed emergency austerity measures to prevent economic collapse.

The recent appointment of 18 state governors in Sudan has been possible because of the ceasefire, Bishop Trille says, adding that the move is “a big step forward.”

He also considers the appointments an “expression of a civil society” since it is the first time such a process is happening, besides the fact that two of those appointed are women.

The 56-year-old Prelate has hailed the July 11 move by the President of the Sovereign Council, General Abdelfattah El Burhan, to sign a series of measures “that go beyond some of the most controversial rules based on the ‘sharia.’”

He lauded the President for introducing “principles that increase citizens' guarantees and reduce discrimination and violations of rights.” 

Bishop Trille who is also the President of the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC) that brings together Bishops in Sudan and South Sudan is also appreciative of the steps taken to abolish the death penalty for citizens of Islamic faith who convert to a different religion, proof that things “are going in the right direction.”

He has also expressed his appreciation for the “positive signs” towards freedom of expression as well as the “definitive criminalization” of the practice of female genital mutilation, which is rife among communities in the Northeast African country.

“During the pandemic, for the first time, Christians were considered on the same level as Muslims and the statements regarding the cult or precautions to be taken, equated without distinction of faith,” Bishop Trille says and adds, “This reassured us (Catholics).”

“Some issues remain to be addressed,” the Sudanese Prelate notes, highlighting the “issue of property confiscated from the Church in the past, or the fact that we do not yet have direct interlocutors in the government for questions concerning the life of the Church.”

Amid the challenges, the Bishop acknowledges the efforts made to foster peace saying, “The path is still long and the road taken is also the result of mediation for peace processes between the executive and armed groups in action in South Kordofan, Darfur and the Blue Nile State.”

"We have left many years of dictatorship and it takes time for things to definitely take the right direction,” Bishop Trille has said and added, “We hope that soon we will have a sovereign Parliament that legislates in defense of the population and that finally we can talk about Sudan as a country in peace."

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ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.

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