Outspoken Sudanese Bishop Daniel Adwok Kur has come out against a change in Sudanese leadership, saying that ending human rights abuses is more important than removing the accused President Omar al Bashir.
Last week the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague issued a warrant for President Bashir’s arrest, accusing him of crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur in west Sudan.
President Bashir responded to the warrant by expelling 13 aid agencies, prompting international protests.
Bishop Adwok, speaking with Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), warned that a change in leadership could derail the fragile peace process in the country, especially in south Sudan.
“The indictment of the president is not a matter taken lightly by the President or the people around him,” the bishop said.
“Removing him could throw obstacles in the path to peace – including in the south of the country.
“We urge people around the world to pray for us. Sudan has entered into a critical moment in her history.”
Bishop Rudolf Deng, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Sudan, has also warned that arresting the president would create more tension. Instead, according to his message reported by the Catholic Information Service for Africa, he called for “more sincerity” from the leaders and the rebels and “a more serious dedication from the international community to save the Sudan.”
Four years ago, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was brokered by the Khartoum government and rebel leaders in the south, ending 25 years of civil war.
According to ACN, tension in the region is growing with the approach of a referendum on independence for the south. The referendum is expected within two years.
Bishop Adwok further explained the situation:
“Whatever happens now, the people should be treated justly. We are asking ourselves ‘Who will defend the rights of Christians in our country?’”
Calling for an end to abuses against minorities, including Christians, the bishop said: “There have been human rights abuses going on for a long time and now we need to put that behind us.”
“Above all justice for the people should be maintained. Those who have suffered are innocent people who have been put through misery because of their ethnic background, their religion or culture,” he added.
Bishop Adwok said that ACN’s work in Sudan, work which supports priests, religious sisters and schoolchildren, would not be affected by the tensions in Khartoum.
ACN also provides help for seminarians, catechists, Mass stipends, Children’s Bibles and schools in Khartoum.