AS THE Archbishop of Canterbury prepared to fly out to South
Sudan this week, it appeared that the ceasefire signed on Thursday
of last week was about to disintegrate.
Archbishop Welby was due to arrive in South Sudan on Thursday
before visiting Burundi, Rwanda, and the DRC. The trip is part of
his plan to visit all the Archbishops in the Anglican Communion
during his first 18 months in office.
On Monday, he told the BBC's Hardtalk programme: "The
first duty of an Archbishop of Canterbury is to be alongside the
extraordinarily brilliant people who are leading our Churches in
many of these countries. Archbishop Daniel in the South Sudan is up
against it. I want to be with him."
Since fighting broke out in South Sudan in December (
News, 20 December), 490,000 people have been internally
displaced. On Thursday of last week, representatives of the
President, Salva Kiir, and Riek Machar, the former Vice-President
accused of staging a coup, signed a ceasefire. Both sides have
since accused the other of breaching the agreement, however.
In his BBC interview, Archbishop Welby said that he was both
"worried" and "hopeful" for the future of South Sudan: "My
experience . . . is that the impact of conflict on a society is
devastating, long-lasting, and difficult to deal with. Any country
like the South Sudan that had been in nearly half a century of
conflict is going to have major issues to deal with." There must be
no impunity for perpet_rators of crimes, he said, "but it must not
look like external forces enforcing a certain something on the
This month, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi
Pillay, called on the leaders of the Great Lakes Region to stop
"turning a blind eye" to "people on their territory who are
suspected of committing very serious crimes". She noted that Rwanda
is currently hosting senior leaders of M23, the rebel group alleged
to be among the worst perpetrators of human rights violations in
the DRC. Conversely, the DRC was sheltering people suspected of
participation in the Rwanda genocide.
Earlier this month, the US State Department expressed "deep
concern" about comments made by the Rwandan President, Paul Kagame,
after the murder of one of his opponents, Patrick Karegeya. "No one
will betray Rwanda and get away with it. Regardless of who you are,
there will be consequences," Mr Kagame said.