South Sudan achieves its independence on
Saturday 9 July 2011, and the new president has received congratulations and an assurance of continued solidarity from the Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC). In a letter dated 7 July on behalf of the WCC, Tveit extended to the president of the Republic of South Sudan, General Salva Kiir Mayardit, “our prayers and very best wishes for the bright and peaceful future of your country and people.”
Four decades of recurring warfare and
confrontation in Sudan have caused an estimated death toll of more than 2
million as well as destroying much of the region’s infrastructure and eroding
resources necessary for a healthy economy.
Tveit’s letter recalls that “the WCC, our
ecumenical partner the Sudan Council of Churches (SCC) and both councils’
member churches have been accompanying the people of Sudan for much of your
long struggle. Forty years ago, the WCC together with the All Africa Conference
of Churches (AACC) mediated between the two parties [in Sudan] and reached the
1972 Addis Ababa Agreement.”
Later, as conflict reignited, the WCC
together with partner churches and organizations remained deeply involved in
efforts toward peace in Sudan. In 1994-95, the WCC, AACC and SCC were
instrumental in the creation of the Sudan Ecumenical Forum through which
Christians provide support to Sudanese churches in their advocacy for peace and
reconciliation. These undertakings helped bring about the 2005 Comprehensive
Peace Agreement which ensured the creation of the Republic of South Sudan.
Tveit’s letter will be read at the
inaugural ceremony on Saturday in Juba, the capital of the newly instituted
Republic of South Sudan, by his predecessor as WCC general secretary, the Rev.
Dr Samuel Kobia, who serves as special ecumenical envoy of the AACC to the
Sudanese peace process.