SCIO, May 15, 1997


  1. Chronology
  2. Sudan Peace Agreement
  3. A talk with the Bishop of Yei


April 16: Sudan's military ruler President Omar el-Bashir, will reshuffle his government after a Muslim feast due to take place at the end of the week, a Press report said today.

17: Egyptian soldiers in the disputed Halaib region are blocking water and medical supplies from reaching Sudanese troops in the area, a pro-government newspaper charged today. Sudanese troops and civilians have been running short of drinking water for the past three weeks and have been forced to drink saline Red Sea water.

21: Former US President Jimmy Carter met Sudanese leaders and rebel representatives ahead of a peace agreement, Sudan's news agency reported today. Mr Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, arrived yesterday in Sudan for a week-long trip that will take them to other African countries. The visit follows Carter's successful trip to Sudan in 1995 when the former president negotiated a cease-fire that lasted for six months.

22: Ugandan troops are holding more than 100 Sudanese government soldiers as prisoners of war at Ngomoromo army post, just four kilometres south of the border- clear proof of fighting between the two armies. Along with the Sudanese prisoners are 64 Ugandan rebels, many of them skeletal after months of drought. Both Kampala and Khartoum governments deny that their troops are crossing the frontier.

22: Rebels said a Sudan Government warplane bombed a southern town yesterday, preventing Mr Carter from landing there to meet a rebel leader. Mr Sampson Kwaje, a spokesman for the SPLA, said a MIG-23 plane dropped four bombs in the town of Yei yesterday during a visit by Mr Carter's advance team of four Americans. He said the Americans had been briefed by SPLA leader Col John Garang and they were satisfied it was safe for Carter to visit yesterday.

22: Hassan al-Turabi has accused the Western governments of trying to stop southern Sudanese rebels from signing a peace treaty with the Islamic government.

23: Sudan's main rebel movement today dismissed as a sham peace agreements signed between Khartoum's Islamic military regime and other rebel factions. "We believe the agreements are a sham. These factions have been collaborating with the government since 1991 and the agreement only formalises that co-operation," Mr Kwaje told AFP.

23: A new book from the London-based organisation, African Rights, accuses the government in Khartoum of using food aid as a deliberate weapon of war. The book, "Food and Power in Sudan", to be released on Thursday, says the Sudanese government's overwhelming priority is to feed the northern cities. "It is prepared to sacrifice all other food supplies to do this... If the escalating war in eastern Sudan brings a food crisis, we can expect to see this brutal prioritisation at work again."

24: Southern Sudanese faction leaders who signed a peace deal with Khartoum appealed today for main rebel leader Col. Garang to join them in the agreement, intended to end one of Africa's longest wars. But Col. Garang was quoted as saying he would continue to fight for the fall of the government, which, he said, signed the deal on Monday in Khartoum "with itself".

25: President Issaias Afeworki confirmed today that Eritrean troops are fighting alongside rebels in Sudan, telling a public seminar that destroying the regime in Khartoum was a priority for Asmara, and that, "this can be done only by force". President Afeworki acknowledged "some losses" among the Eritrean troops, but said these were acceptable in the struggle to establish peace in the region.

25: Dr. Riek Machar, leader of the South Sudan Independence Movement (SSIM), the largest of the groups which signed a peace agreement with the Khartoum government on Monday, said that he is sending some of his soldiers forces to the southern city of Juba to help the Sudanese army fight off an attack.

26: The presidents of Egypt and Uganda met in Cairo today and discussed the fighting in southern Sudan. Uganda and Egypt have similar views on the Islamist government in Khartoum, which has alienated most of Sudan's neighbours by encouraging dissident groups.

26: Eritrea's ruling party denied today that the Horn of Africa nation was involved in Sudan's "internal wars," calling an AFP report of a speech by President Issaias Afeworki yesterday a "gross distortion". That came as the Sudanese newspaper Akhbar al-Youm quoted Member of Parliament Moussa Hussein Dirar as saying after a visit to the border region that Sudanese soldiers had been battling more than 5, 000 "Eritrean invaders led by white foreigners, including some Israelis " in Sudan's Red Sea state

30: Sudanese newspapers said today government forces had recaptured a town from Eritrean forces and more than 20 villages from southern rebels.

May 2: SPLA leader John Garang told BBC radio tjat his forces captured the southern provincial capital of Rumbek yesterday and were sure to seize the southern Sudanese capital of Juba. "We started tactical fighting this morning and at exactly 1530 hours Sudan local time, we captured Rumbek and Rumbek is now firmly under our control.''

6: Sudanese rebels ambushed a Sudanese army convoy on the Red Sea coast on Saturday, killing 18 soldiers and taking two prisoners. Rebel spokesman Yassir Aramna said the ambush was the work of the National Democratic Alliance, an opposition coalition which unites northerners and the southerners of the SPLA.

7: The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) today denied a report that it had suspended activities in Sudan's southernmost Equatoria states and told staff to leave the main city there, Juba, for Khartoum. Fighting is currently raging between government troops and the rebel SPLA which controls parts of East and West Equatoria. The independent Alwan daily today claimed UNICEF had pulled out.

9: Sudanese government forces have attacked rebel positions in the south-east of the country, killing 12 rebels, press reports said today. Army forces joined by militiamen on Tuesday attacked positions of the SPLA in East Equatoria, some 65 kilometres south of the region's principal city, Juba, the Akhbar al Youm reported.

9: Leader of the Sudanese Democratic Salvation Front (UDSF) Dr Machar, leading a five man delegation, has began a diplomatic offensive in Africa to explain the recent peace agreement between the Sudanese government and various opposition groups in Khartoum last month. The delegation of the UDSF members is also seeking President Museveni's support to have the leader of the SPLA Col. Garang, get involved in the recent peace deal in Khartoum. "We are here to seek President Museveni's assistance to bring about an understanding among those who signed the agreement and have Col Garang also sign it," Dr Machar told a news conference in Kampala today.

12: Dr Machar says opposition groups in his country have signed the peace agreement which will be endorsed by President El-Bashir in two weeks time. However, Dr Machar regrets that Dr Garang has not signed the pact and challenges him to do so for the sake of peace in the country. "If Dr Garang declines to participate in the peace talks, then we will know that his political agenda is to seize power and not creating peace for the Sudanese people."

12: Dr. Garang said his forces have captured the town of Tonj in the Buheirat state and were advancing towards the district headquarters at Wau in southern Sudan. Dr Garang told the BBC by satellite telephone yesterday: "We will soon take Wau. We are liberating the whole of the southern Sudan."

12: The participation of Garang in southern Sudan peace initiatives was one of the key issues discussed by Ugandan President Museveni and Sudan's Gen. El-Bashir at a meeting hosted by President Daniel arap Moi in Eldoret (Kenya) at the weekend. The two leaders met privately at the town of Eldoret for two hours last Saturday and, according to a communiqu,, agreed to stop exchanging public accusations and "start a new chapter of co-operation."

Peace pact should include all warring parties

April 21, 1997 marked yet another chapter in the protracted Sudanese civil strife. The National Islamic Front government entered into a peace agreement with the southern rebel groups. However, Sudanese People's Liberation Army-Mainstream of Dr. John Garang, and the Sudanese People's Liberation Army-United of Dr. Lam Akol, did not take part in the agreement.

But observers generally believe that, any well meaning initiative intended to bring peace to Sudan, must involve all the warring factions. Dr. Garang's participation, they hold, would be of particular significance because of several reasons. His faction does not only command the largest following in the south, it is also Khartoum government's most formidable opponent. SPLA-Mainstream is also in control of the largest portion of southern Sudan, and almost every other rebel grouping in the region is an offshoot of the SPLA-Mainstream.

Under the agreement, Sudan's 10 southern states, inhabited mainly by traditionalists and Christians, will fall under a Transitional Co-ordination Council, which will oversee the 10 state's respective governments. National security, foreign, policy, banking and tax collection will remain in the hands of the federal government in Khartoum.

If the agreement holds, a referendum will be held in the south in the year 2001 to determine whether the Southerners wish to have a separate state or remain with the predominantly Muslim north.

The opposition factions that signed the agreement were SPLA (Bahr el Ghazal), led by Karubino Kawanyn Bol, South Sudan Independence Movement (SSIM) led by Riek Machar, Kawae Makwei's South Sudan Independence Group (SSIG), Equatoria Defence Force (EDF) of Theophilus Ochang Loti and Union of Sudanese African Parties (USAP) of Samuel Aru Bol.

In April last year, SSIM/A and SPLM/A (Bahr al-Ghazal) signed in Khartoum the "Political Charter " with the Khartoum regime. They were later joined by EDF and other groups.

According to a press statement issued by Dr. Garang's group on May 11; "the agreement is essentially a deal between allies but not a conflict resolution mechanism. This is because since 1991, these SPLM/A breakaway groupings have been overtly collaborating with Khartoum against the people of the south and marginalised Sudan."

Where as SPLA-Mainstream's stand has been outright rejection of the agreement signed in Khartoum, Dr. Lam Akol's group has been non-committal. Speaking in Nairobi Dr. Lam said the agreement was vague and did not emphasise the democratic rights of the people, and had a lot of loophole which made the Southerners susceptible to the negative whims of the central government.

Since the beginning of the year Dr. Garang's group has scored impressive victories against the government. In the south, the SPLA has virtually routed out the government but for Juba, the largest town in the region. In the eastern frontier, things have not been any rosier for the Khartoum regime. A combined SPLA and a conglomeration of northern opposition, under the umbrella of National Democratic Alliance (NDA), has handed the government a defeat after another, forcing the Khartoum regime to gamble with every imaginable solution from within and without.

Analysts hold that the latest attempt at a peaceful solution to the Sudanese conflict has been prompted by Khartoum's recent losses.

by Charles Omondi

A Talk with the Bishop of Yei

Since his appointment as Catholic Bishop of Yei Diocese in 1986. Msgr. Erkolano T. Lodu had never set foot at the headquarters of his See. At the beginning of March Yei has fallen under the control of the SPLA, and Bishop Erkolano with a group of Catholic who were refugees in Uganda have been able to visit the town.

Question: Can you please give a brief account of you academic and professional background

Answer: I was born at Belenyang', Juba District, in 1943. I attended a local primary school for two years before moving to Rajaf Primary School in our home parish between 1952-56. In 1957, I joined Karo Minor Seminary in the Diocese of Juba, then called Vicariate, for a five-year inter-mediate course. In 1962, I went to St Paul's National Major Seminary in Yei District. In 1964, after the expulsion of missionaries, the seminary relocated to Juba. The following year, the seminary moved into exile in Uganda where I did my first and second years of Philosophy at Lachor Major Seminary, Gulu Diocese. I then studied Theology for one year. In 1966 I went to Rome, Italy, for further studies, graduating with a Masters Degree in Philosophy in 1970. I was ordained a priest by Pope John Paul VI on May 17, 1970 in Rome then I came back home and started working in Juba. I served in different capacities in different parts of Sudan before being appointed Bishop of Yei in March 1986.

Q: The diocese you are in charge of has recently fallen to the rebel Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA), what does this development portend to you and the Christian community you are in charge of?

A: For me this development is very important. Since I was ordained bishop in 1986 in Khartoum, I had never stepped into the headquarters of my diocese and the on-going war was one of the major causes of this eventuality. The way to Yei was always blocked by the rebels, forcing me to administer my diocese from outside. I was never at ease with this kind of arrangement but there was very little I could do. I look at what has happened as something providential that has been able to open my way especially form Uganda where part of my flock is in exile. A lot of my people have now been able to go back home. Now I will be able to stay at Yei where I am supposed to stay and serve my people.

Q: Did you and the Christian play a role in fighting the government forces at Yei?

A: We did not play an active role in the fight. Our main role has always been to pray for peace in Sudan. We are always praying to the Lord to change the hearts of the people of Sudan to understand themselves as brothers and sisters and not enemies. Certainly! We pray a lot for peace to come to our country by whichever way. But we are not for violence. Thus, in that case, our help to the SPLA by way of prayers, is also help to the government.

Q: There has been a peace agreement between the government and some rebel groups in the south which has excluded the SPLA Mainstream. What in your opinion is likely to be the outcome of this agreement.

A: First of all, I look at the agreement as a commendable effort towards peace. But it is a very partial effort. It is non-comprehensive because it is an agreement between the government and a group of the SPLA factions. The mainstream SPLA of Dr. John Garang is still fighting. It would have been better if it was inclusive...meaning involving the Garang and all the other warring parties. As it were, the war is not over yet. There is also confusion especially among the civilians as to which groups actually stand for their rights. Some are saying there is peace while others are insisting that is not the kind of peace they have been fighting for.

Q: What is the future of Christianity in Sudan considering the stiff opposition it has always faced from Muslim fundamentalism.

A: The problem in Sudan today relating to religion is just caused by the present regime. It is the current government that has heightened the question of religion and politics. We used to co-exist fairly well despite our spiritual differences but what we are witnessing today is an abuse of religion for political ends. Islam and Christianity, if well understood, can co-exist very well. The present Sudanese regime is abusing Islam and Christians see it just that way. I do not see any danger to Christianity just because of what the present regime is propagating. Christianity has instead been strengthened by the attacks on it by the government. Christianity in Sudan has a very bright future.

Q: Taking Sudan as a whole, what in your opinion would bring a lasting solution to the country's many years of civil strife.

A: One way would be for all the people involved in the current conflict to come together and talk honestly, sincerely, understand the root cause of the problem then make appropriate recommendations for solving the crisis. And I think the root cause of the Sudanese problem is not difficult to understand. There has always been a tendency to define Sudan as an Islamic Arab state - a country that is Arab in culture and Islamic in religion. This leaves no room for equality in Sudan since there are non-Muslim and non-Arab Sudanese. If this can be addressed with utmost sincerity, and an agreement arrived at on the system of government to be adopted, and the equitable distribution of the state resources, there would be an end to the Sudanese crisis. If not, then war will continue in Sudan for a very long time. So central is this issue that if the Arab-Muslim Sudanese can not accept to live on equal footing with their non-Muslim brothers, then the division of the country would be the only viable option.

Charles Omondi

For further information, please contact:
Fr. Kizito, SCIO, tel +254.2.562247 - fax +254.2.566668 - e-mail:


PeaceLink 1997