Sunday, May 16, 2010

Parkins on Sudan

Episcopal News Service has posted an op-ed piece by Richard Parkins, Executive Director of the American Friends of the Episcopal Church of Sudan (AFRECS). I am personally fond of Mr. Parkins and I greatly respect his work for AFRECS. However, some parts of his essay give me pause.

I encourage you to read his essay and offer your comments. These are mine.

He describes the April parliamentary elections as "seriously flawed." In my view, the most serious flaw was that the candidates in southern Sudan bowed out of the elections at the last minute, thereby reducing the options of our friends in southern Sudan. I believe he is wrong to lay the blame on the Khartoum government and its President, Omar al-Bashir.

Richard Parkins doesn't hammer home the point, but I will remind you that Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir has been declared a war criminal, because of the genocide he has perpetrated in Darfar. There is an international warrant for his arrest. There is no doubt (in my mind) that he is a Very Bad Guy.

Parkins rightly points out that many elements of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement have not been pursued. I join him in hoping that progress will be made, as well as dismay that little time remains to do so.

I am a bit dismayed that Parkins seems to cast all the southern Sudanese as the "Good Guys" and all the northern Sudanese as the "Bad Guys." I don't believe it's that simple. Remember, for example, that there are many Christians and Episcopalians living in the northern portions of Sudan. Further, as Parkins observes, Sudanese Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul is in a position to advocate on behalf of all the Sudanese Christians.

Despite my quibbles, I am grateful to Richard Parkins for trying to get the Sudan situation on the radar of the Episcopal Church. Our brothers and sisters in Sudan have made great strides during the peace agreement, and I fervently pray that peace endures in Sudan.


Dan said...

I thought that SPLM candidates pulled out of races in the North, not the South. Salva Kiir withdrew from the race for president. I was under the impression that there was some back room dealing in that, to secure Bashir's statement that he would abide by the results of the 2011 referendum.

Lisa Fox said...

Dan, I agree with you partly.

It's my understanding that the SPLM candidates withdrew from the national-level positions (including the position of President). In my view, that made it impossible for people to express their opposition to President Al-Bashir's leadership, and I am sorry they withdrew.

Yes, I agree with your understanding that the Southern Sudanese candidates remained standing for the more local positions.

As to the back-room dealing, I haven't heard of that. But I do hope and pray that Bashir will abide by the 2011 referendum.

Deep thanks for your contributions here.