Lutheran world leader heads interfaith peace delegation in Sudan

By staff writers
January 9, 2007

The General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), the Rev Dr Ishmael Noko, will lead an interfaith delegation to North and South Sudan from 9 to 13 January 2007 – reports LWI.

The major aim of the visit is to meet with Sudan’s political and religious leaders and encourage them to sustain the peace process in place since the January 2005 signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army.

The four-person team comprising representatives of the Inter-Faith Action for Peace in Africa (IFAPA), will hold discussions with representatives of the new political leadership in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum and with the Government of South Sudan in Juba.

Inter-Faith Action for Peace in Africa (IFAPA)is a pan-African body initiated by the LWF general secretary in 2002, with the aim to bring Africa’s religious to work together to promote peace on the continent.

The IFAPA delegation will be hosted by the Sudan Inter-Religious Council, which was established in 2003 to provide a forum for religious leaders in the Sudan (North and South) to seek together solutions to the problems facing their country, especially with regard to religious freedom and prejudice.

In Khartoum, the delegation will meet with the country’s Vice President Ali Osman Taha, First Vice President and President of the Government of South Sudan Salva Kiir Mayardit, other senior government officials, representatives of religious bodies including the Sudan Council of Churches, and women and youth associations, among others. In Juba, meetings will be held with officials of the South Sudan government, community-based associations, and religious leaders.

Also in Juba, currently the venue of peace talks over the conflict in Northern Uganda, the interfaith group will meet with delegates from the Ugandan government and the Lord’s Resistance Army. The LWF general secretary will then proceed to Uganda for a meeting with the local IFAPA representatives, Members of Parliament and officials of the Entebbe municipality who have been involved in the peace initiatives.

"Religious overtones have dominated the complex conflicts in the Sudan, Uganda and other countries in that region," Noko told Lutheran World Information (LWI) on the eve of the visit. "Religious leaders must therefore use responsibly their moral authority to reduce conflict by mediating and encouraging the conflicting parties to dialogue," he added.

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