Several hundred demonstrators took part in a 'Drumbeat for Peace' opposite Downing St in London on Saturday 9 January, supporting the Sudan365 campaign for a peaceful future for Sudan. Sudanese Archbishop Daniel Deng addressed the rally. Exactly a year before the planned referendum on the future of Southern Sudan, it was the UK launch of the international campaign.
On the 9th January 2005 a 'Comprehensive Peace Agreement' (or CPA) was signed between the Sudanese government and the National Democratic Alliance, an opposition coalition. It was intended to bring to an end the Second Sudanese Civil War between the government of the Muslim north of the country and other groups, particularly the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) in the largely Christian south.
Despite the settlement, many problems remain, particularly with the continued fighting in Darfur in the west of Sudan where government forces are accused of genocide. The International Criminal Court has issued its first ever arrest warrant for a sitting head of state, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, charging him with war crimes and crimes against humanity.
One part of the CPA called for a referendum to be held in Southern Sudan in January 2011 to allow the people there to decide whether to become independent or remain in Sudan, along with a similar referendum or consultations in some smaller areas of the country. Before the referendum there was to be a countrywide census and registration of voters, and a national election in 2010. The census has turned out to be very problematic because of the nomadic nature of much of the population, the aftermath of the civil war and it particular its huge numbers of refugees and the continuing conflict in Darfur. Lengthy negotiations have finally led to the agreement that for the referendum to be valid it must give at least a 51% majority on a turnout of 60%.
The Sudan365 campaign today launched a global year of campaigning leading up to the referendum with events in 15 countries calling on world leaders to take urgent steps to prevent a return to severe and widespread conflict in Sudan. Sudan365 is a coalition of groups including the Aegis Trust, Amnesty International, Arab Coalition for Darfur, Darfur Consortium, FIDH, Human Rights Watch, Refugees International and the Save Darfur Coalition
The campaign’s 'Drum for Peace' has attracted support from some of the most famous drummers from around the world, including Phil Selway of Radiohead, Stewart Copeland of The Police and Pink Floyd's Nick Mason, who are taking part in a film in which the drum beat for peace, starting in Sudan is passed to drummers around the world, including in Brazil, Mexico, US (New York and San Francisco), UK, France, Spain, Senegal, South Africa, Ghana, Egypt, Mali, UAE, Japan, Russia and Australia.
Several hundred demonstrators, including a large group from the Darfur community in Coventry turned up opposite Downing Street on a cold Saturday morning for a couple of hours of noisy drumming. They called for peace, human rights and development for all in all regions of Sudan, with safety and security for all, as well as protection for Darfur, women's rights and the peace agreement, and demanded that there by free and fair elections and referendum in the country.
They were then addressed by Sudanese Archbishop Daniel Deng, who is in London for meetings with Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Archbishop Rowan William on Monday.