Sudan: SA cardinal to monitor secession vote

2011-01-07 00:00

THE head of the Roman Catholic Church in Southern Africa, Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, who is also the archbishop of Durban, is to join an African ecumenical monitoring team that will be in Sudan to monitor the referendum about the proposed secession of the south of the country.

Father Chris Townsend, spokesperson for the Southern Africa Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC), said in a statement that Napier will be a guest of Archbishop Paulino Lokudu Loro, the archbishop of the southern city of Juba, during the referendum.

From Sunday, Sudan will hold a long-awaited referendum to determine whether south Sudan should become an independent nation, a move that will lead to the splitting of Africa’s biggest country.

The SACBC has been strongly supportive of the people of south Sudan since 1994 and it hosted a Sudan desk as part of its justice and peace department at its secretariat in Pretoria. Last year the SACBC had six solidarity visits to Sudan.

Napier described the opportunity to test the will of the people as “historic, as it allows ordinary people who have endured the brunt of civil war and development exclusion a chance to reclaim their own dignity”.

The cardinal will be accompanied by Father Sean O’Leary, director of the Denis Hurley Peace Institute.

O’Leary said: “This vote is an important vote not only for the people of southern Sudan but also as a potential sparking point for rewriting many of the artificial boundaries created in Africa during the 1876 Berlin Conference.

“This has Africa-wide significance.

“We might see the beginning of a new wave of independence drives.

“Like South Africa in 1994, we are witnessing the birth of a new nation.”

Napier and O’Leary will remain in Sudan until January 12.

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