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Sunday, 30 April, 2000, 18:20 GMT 19:20 UK
Sudan peace plea
George Carey
George Carey wants to encourage peace in Sudan
The spiritual leader of Anglican Christians - the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr George Carey - has made an impassioned plea for peace in Sudan during a visit to enthrone a new archbishop for the country.

In a sermon in the southern city of Juba, Dr Carey appealed for tolerance between Christians and Muslims and urged warring factions to search for a peaceful solution.



I do not believe there is any reason ... for Christians and Muslims to commit violence against each other

Dr George Carey
It has taken nearly two years to make the arrangements to elect the new Anglican archbishop, Joseph Marona - a task complicated by the bitter civil war.

An estimated two million people have died in fighting since rebels from the predominantly Christian and animist south took up arms in 1983 to press for autonomy from the Muslim-dominated north.

As head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, Dr Carey is in Sudan to boost the morale of the country's Christians and to encourage the Church to push hard for a peaceful resolution to the Sudanese war.

"I do not believe there is any reason either here in Sudan or anywhere else in the world for Christians and Muslims to commit violence against each other," he said on Sunday.

"There is every reason ... to discover common ground upon which together you can contribute to the peace process here."

Dr Carey said the enthronement of the new archbishop, Joseph Marona, marked the opening of a new chapter in the history of the church in Sudan.

Troubled selection

Archbishop Marona was formerly Bishop of Maridi in the opposition-held south of the country. He says he wants to bring all church leaders together to promote peace.


sudan
Sudan has been ravaged by war
But the Church in Sudan has not been able to operate as one organisation because of the political division between north and south.

That has made it very difficult for people to gather together to elect a new archbishop.

Four decades of civil war between the mainly Islamic north and the largely Christian south have left an indelible mark.

Two million people are dead, thousands more are living in camps for the displaced, while Islamic militia have abducted and enslaved countless numbers from the south.

Discrimination

The Christian churches - who minister to around 40% of Sudan's population - complain of persistent discrimination by the Islamic government in Khartoum.

Church schools and hospitals have in recent months suffered intense bombing, while church lands have been confiscated.

Still, Dr Carey hopes his mission of fostering peace and justice will have an impact.

There are already some signs of hope. The government recently announced the cessation of bombing raids on the south.

The archbishop-elect also says he is confident that the government will allow him freedom of movement so that he can visit his Church in every part of the country.

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17 Jan 00 | Africa
Sudan's decades of war
17 Jan 00 | Africa
Little optimism for Sudan talks
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