Police evict Sudan Church

Riot police have evicted church staff from the office of the Archbishop of the Episcopal Church of Sudan (ECS) in Khartoum. On Thursday of last week, three truck-loads of armed police arrived without warning and ordered the building to be emptied, threatening violence to force compliance. Staff organised a rapid evacuation, removing the office’s contents.

The authorities said that the building had been sold to an Arab business, the Amal Company, by Gabriel Roric, who was deposed as Bishop of Rumbek last year. Mr Roric, who was also a minister in the government until 2001 and holds a senior position in the ruling Islamic party, had claimed to be "Archbishop of ECS" when making the sale. He has been accused of acting as a government agent and of undermining the Church, most recently in carrying out illegal consecrations of bishops.

The Archbishop of Sudan, the Most Revd Joseph Marona, issued a statement: "This is a serious day for all the people of Sudan. I call on the government to restore the Church’s property to its rightful owner — the Church." He also urged Christians to be restrained: "As scripture says, it is not by might that one prevails."

The Rt Revd Daniel Deng, Bishop of Renk, whose office was also in the building, called on others in the Anglican Communion to speak out.

The dioceses of Salisbury and Bradford, which are linked to Sudan, have made representations to the Sudanese ambassador in London. The Episcopal diocese of Virginia organised a demonstration in Washington DC on Wednesday.