Enshrine Agreement on Separation of Religion and State in Sudan Constitution: Bishop

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The recently signed agreement on the separation of religion and State in Sudan needs to be enshrined in the country’s constitution, a Catholic Bishop in the Northeastern African nation has appealed in an interview with ACI Africa.

In the Wednesday, March 31 interview, Bishop Yunan Tombe Trille said, “We need this agreement on separation of religion and the state enshrined in the permanent constitution that Sudanese be free to worship and run Churches and Mosques without interference from the government.”

On March 28, the Chairman of the Sovereign Council of Sudan, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the head of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), Abdel-Aziz al-Hilu signed the agreement to separate religion and State in Sudan.

The duo also agreed “to form a single national army at the end of the transitional period,” Sudan Tribune reported.

In a process that started in July 2019 after mass protests forced the military to remove Omar al-Bashir from power, Sudan is transitioning to democracy. A Sovereign Council is currently governing the country through its Chairman, al-Burhan.


The March 28 agreement between the Sudanese government and SPLM-N, a major rebel group from its Southern Nuba Mountains, is expected to pave the way for a final peace agreement by guaranteeing freedom of worship for all citizens.

“No religion shall be imposed on anyone and the state shall not adopt any official religion,” the two officials said in their joint statement.

The agreement seeks to establish “a civil, democratic federal state in Sudan, wherein, the freedom of religion, the freedom of belief and religious practices and worship shall be guaranteed to all Sudanese people by separating the identities of culture, religion, ethnicity and religion from the state,” the two leaders say in the March 28 collective statement.

In the March 31 interview with ACI Africa, the Local Ordinary of Sudan’s El Obeid Diocese who doubles as the President of the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC) that includes Bishops in South Sudan said that enshrining the March 28 agreement for a secular state in Sudan’s “permanent constitution” gives citizens some guarantee “that the government is going to respect them in their own Churches and in their own Mosques.”

“What the leaders need to do is to include it to the permanent constitution, giving everybody a right to express his or her religion without preconditions,” Bishop Trille reiterated, and added, “Practically this agreement needs to reach a complete dialogue so that freedom of religion does not only refer to Islam but to all religions in the Sudan.”

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The 57-year-old Sudanese Bishop further said, “Many youths in Sudan are happy that this signing between the leaders will contribute to peace building and no Sudanese politician will be using religion as a means of ruling rather than worship.”

“In the Sudan, the politicians perceived the country to have one religion, the Islam; Christians have nowhere to fit and no other religion was considered to exist other than Islam,” Bishop Trille said.

With the agreement for a secular Sudan, he went on to say, “Christians and Muslims will be able now to develop their own Churches and Mosques without hindrance from the government.”

The Bishop who has been at the helm of SCBC since January 2020 expressed optimism about the agreement by the two Sudanese leaders saying, “We hope that in their statement they are going to respect all religions in Sudan and not interfere, so that they consider politics as politics and religion as religion and take the nation as for all Sudanese.” 

“This freedom of worshipping God with all our hearts and our minds will be appreciated as between God and man instead of being dictated by somebody on when to pray and how to pray,” Bishop Trille told ACI Africa March 31.


Last September, Sudanese Prime Minister, Abdalla Hamdok and the SPLM-N leader, al-Hilu signed a declaration in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa that reportedly aimed at putting an end to decades of Islamic rule in Sudan.

Reacting to the 3 September 2020 declaration, Bishop Trille had, in an interview with ACI Africa, clarified that the signing was only the beginning of a dialogue on Sudan’s religion versus state matter.

“SPLM-North and the Prime Minister did not agree that there is a separation between the state and the religion but they have agreed that they are going to dialogue about this separation of state and religion,” Bishop Trille told ACI Africa October 2.

Sharia law was first imposed in Sudan in 1983 and maintained by the now deposed president Omar al-Bashiir for the duration of his 30-year-long Islamist rule.

In the March 31 interview with ACI Africa, Bishop Trille remarked, “If it is true in the mass media, the big political parties of the Sudan, the UMMA party and the DUP which are the religious parties in Sudan since independence, have no (objection) and are generally happy with the signing of the separation of religion and state, that is very positive.”

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“As a Christian and a Bishop, I have many of my Churches and houses that are confiscated by the security and are still in the hand of the government or with individuals simply because Christianity especially Catholicism was not considered a religion for Sudanese but for foreigners,” the Bishop who has been at the helm of Sudan’s El Obeid Diocese since April 2017 said.

He went on to say, “We hope that we will be able to develop our Churches and worship freely, which we didn’t have in Sudan. I thought this new way will allow us free worship and allow us to build our Churches.”

Encouraging optimism among the people of God in Sudan, Bishop Trille urged “all Sudanese to look at things positively and be committed to our religion, take care of our institutions, not allow politicians to mislead them by mixing politics and religion together.”