Sudan officials defy court order to remove government-appointed church leaders

Officials with Sudan's Ministry of Guidance and Religious Endowment have defied a court order to remove the government-appointed leaders of the Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church and to reinstate the original leadership.

(REUTERS / Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah)Pastors help South Sudanese worshippers after attending Sunday prayers in Baraka Parish church at Hajj Yusuf, on the outskirts of Khartoum, February 27, 2013.

On May 13, 2013, the ministry appointed a group to manage the offices of SPEC - a move that the church leaders deemed as a bid to control Christian churches and eventually eliminate Christianity from Sudan. In October of the same year, the ministry positioned outsiders as leaders of the church, leading to the closure of the church offices, Morning Star News details.

On Nov. 29, Judge Mahmoud Ali Ibrahim of a High Court on administrative matters issued a ruling saying the ministry had meddled with church matters and that SPEC's original leadership should be re-installed. Despite the ruling, no action has been taken to remove the government-appointed church leaders.

"Officials from the Ministry of Guidance and Religious Endowment came to us saying they have implemented the court decision, but practically they have not done anything," SPEC's Sudan Evangelical Synod moderator Yahia Abdelrahim Nalu told Morning Star News.

Nalu insists that the Judge Ibrahim's ruling nullifies all the previous court orders on church leadership. For him, the issue has veered off from the legal proceedings and has taken a more political turn.

Meanwhile, several Christian pastors are still imprisoned in Sudan together with one Czech aid worker and a Sudanese civil rights activists. Rev. Kuwa Shamal, Pastor Hassan Abdelrahim and the two others are facing charges of espionage, provoking religious hatred and waging war against the state, The Daily Beast reports.

According to Pastor Emmanuel Ofendi of the Cush Theological College in the Nuba Mountains, the pastors were not supposed to be arrested for preaching the Gospel. He also called for their release since they have not done anything wrong.

Human rights campaigners and religious leaders say the charges against the Christian pastors are merely trumped up and are baseless. The case is largely seen as the latest example of the persecution of Christians since South Sudan separated from the country.

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