Sudan Monthly Report

Current issue
December 15, 1997


  1. Chronology
  2. Paper decries government's double standards
  3. Top post for Sudanese clergy


November 17: Sudan's main labour federation is calling on workers to toil an extra two hours a day from next Saturday in protest against sweeping US trade and economic sanctions. In a weekend meeting, the Sudan Workers Trade Unions Federation said that by extending the six-hour working day, Sudanese workers could express their determination to upgrade production in the face of the US sanctions.

18: Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir said yesterday his country would boycott the US dollar in trading transactions in reprisal for the recent United States trade and economic sanctions against Sudan.

21: The Sudanese Parliament has urged the military-backed government to ban US aid organisations in Sudan. The Parliament's move on Tuesday was the latest in a series of protests against the US decision to tighten sanctions against the government which Washington accuses of sponsoring terrorism.

25: The Ugandan army is building up its forces along its border with Sudan to springboard attacks by the SPLA of John Garang, a Sudanese military official has said. General Mohamed Abdallah Oweidah, chairman of the Sudanese parliament's defence committee, described the build up as "a means for backing the Garang movement in operations it is planning to launch".

25: Colonel Garang arrived in Cairo today for talks with senior officials, a Sudanese opposition spokesman said.

26: The SPLA said today that it was counting on Egypt's support in its fight against the Khartoum government. The SPLA said Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak had invited SPLA leader Col. Garang to visit Egypt.

December 1: Sudan has demanded the immediate release of Sudanese prisoners of war said to have been seized during a joint attack by the Ugandan army and the SPLA on Yei in south Sudan. "We demand that the Ugandan authorities immediately and unconditionally set free Sudanese POWs captured by the Ugandan forces during their recent attack, jointly with the rebel forces on Yei town," Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail said in a statement today.

1: The SPLA has no desire to break with Khartoum and destroy the country's unity, Col. Garang told President Mubarak in Cairo today. "Our movement is totally the necessity to maintain the unity of our country," Col. Garang told reporters following his first official meeting with the Egyptian president since he launched his uprising against the Khartoum authorities in 1983.

3: The Sudanese parliament has suspended a United Nation-sponsored family planning programme for Sudan on the grounds that it contradicts Islamic values. The national assembly resolution was passed today following days of heated debate sparked by a report from the parliamentary social affairs committee on activities by international and local associations in the Khartoum suburb of Al Haj Yousuf under a programme sponsored by the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF).

5: A panel drafting a new constitution for Sudan has extended its deadline for completing the job so opposition figures inside the country and abroad can take part, news report said today. The commission was created in October by President el-Bashir. It was to have completed its work by December 31.

8: Sudan today criticised the visit to Africa by US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright saying she would play up US spite against Khartoum. "During this tour of countries neighbouring Sudan she will maintain her spite against Sudan," said the Minister of State in the foreign ministry, Mustafa Osman Ismail.

10: US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright today met Sudanese opposition and rebel leaders in Kampala, where she commented that Washington was seeking to isolate Khartoum's leaders. Albright, in Uganda during an African tour, held talks with the head of the rebel SPLA, John Garang, and three other leaders in the opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA), which linked up with Garang in 1995. The meeting was the first between a US government representative and the SPLA and also the first at such a senior level between Washington and the exiled opposition. Albright is on a tour of seven African countries. Khartoum lashed out at her trip as part of a "US-Israeli ploy to destabilise Sudan." Albright, meanwhile, announced US $four million in aid for northern Uganda where the government is battling a rebel insurgency which it says is supported by Khartoum.

11: Sudan Culture and Information Minister, Brigadier Al-Tayeb Ibrahim Mohamed Khair today said in a commnet on Omdurman radio that "Albright's comments are an aggression by the United States and target Sudan's unity". He added that "This shows the United States is against any free national direction in all Arab, Islamic and African countries. We affirm to the traitors and agents of America who have sold themselves to Satan that the brave and heroic Sudanese people will foil all their plots."

Paper decries government's double standards

The government of Sudan has been accused of continuing to use landmines against its own civilians despite participating actively in Anti-Personnel Mines (APMs) campaigns.

The October issue of Nafir, a Newsletter published in London by Nuba Mountains Solidarity Abroad, says that though the government sent a delegation to Oslo, Norway, to the international conference drafting the treaty to ban landmines, it has continued "to use landmines in a cruel and indiscriminate manner."
"In the Nuba Mountains, many civilians have been killed and injured by landmines laid in the last few months. More than 40 casualties are known, almost all of them civilians," the paper says.

The monthly publication further expresses fear that the government may this month formally sign the treaty banning anti-personnel mines to hood wink the international community.
Delegates from around 100 countries on September 18, this year, adopted a draft treaty banning APMs to be signed this month in Ottawa, Canada. The conference was part of the so called "Ottawa Process" , an initiative by Canada to encourage countries to voluntarily undertake to renounce the production, sale, stocking transport and use of landmines.

This initiative does not cover anti-vehicle or anti-tank mines.
The US, in a move that surprised many, rejected the Oslo document, arguing that it failed to protect US soldiers especially on the Korean peninsular where it has sought a nine-year exemption for enforcing the treaty.
Though statistics on landmines in Sudan are hard to come by, Sudan is believed to be one of the most heavily mined countries in Africa.

Charles Omondi

Top post for Sudanese clergy

The Seventh General Assembly of the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, last October, witnessed the passing of the AACC Secretary General's torch from Angolan Rev Jose Belo Chipenda to Sudanese Rev Canon Clement Janda. Charles Omondi recently interviewed Rev Janda on a number of issue in his home country.

1. What does your recent election as the General Secretary of All Africa Conference of Churches portend for your mother country Sudan?

The Sudan is one of the constituencies of the All Africa Conference of Churches and therefore it will receive same attention as other areas of our jurisdiction which may have similar problems. So, being a Sudanese does not mean I am going to be concentrating all my efforts on Sudan..

2. Some churches and church personalities in South Africa are today being accused of not having stood up strongly against the apartheid regime. Do you envisage similar accusations against some churches in Sudan should a democratic government of national unity take over power?

Well, I don't think the South African church groupings are an exception, nor would be those of Sudan. I think the same thing could be said of churches all over the continent. The situation in South Africa is only very current because of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which is probing everybody and trying to establish the role that everybody played during the apartheid regime. But I would say that if we were to have similar commissions in all the 50-plus member states of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), we would get the same thing and Sudan would not be an exception.

3. To what extent is Islam a threat to the future of Christianity in Sudan?

Ah...! I wouldn't want to use the word threat. I think threat is your word. I would say to what extent is Islam a challenge to the future of Christianity in Sudan, and I would wish to go a bit further by looking at the extent to which Islam is a challenge to the future of Christianity in the whole continent. I think it is a good challenge. It is a challenge that tries to put all the churches to a more serious footing because the only way Islam can thrive in Christian stronghold is by the church failing to minister. In that sense, is Islam is a challenge to the Christianity in the continent in general, the same way it is a challenge to Christianity in Sudan.

Now, I have said this before elsewhere and I want to say it here that people must always distinguish between Islam as a religion and Islam as a political ideology. I think what we are seeing in some parts of Africa, Sudan included, is a situation where a faction of Islam is using the faith as an ideology for coming to power, an ideology for ascending leadership. That is what is a threat because I believe that when you begin to use religious principles for political purposes, then serious problems are bound to arise. For instance, the use of religion by Joseph Kony of the Lords Resistance Army, who insists on ruling Uganda on the basis of the 10 commandments, is as much a threat to Christianity as are Muslim fundamentalists who would like to use Islam as an ideology of power.

4. The latest round of Sudanese peace talks ended in Nairobi recently without achieving much. What is your comment on this?

To be perfectly honest, I wasn't expecting anything different from what happened because the government of Sudan seems to have made up its mind that the Sudan should be Islamic and it should be united. Anything short of that obviously wouldn't make them move and therefore I wasn't surprised that the talks ended the way they did.

5. Do you consider the recently signed peace accord between Khartoum and a host of rebel factions viable?

Well, that peace accord was signed on April 21, 1997 and now we are in the last week of November. If it was viable, there would be peace now. The fact that there is nothing happening on the battle front, the fact that there is nothing in place to demonstrate that there was a peace agreement in itself is statement that accord is not viable.

6. What is your opinion on the creation of two Sudans as a lasting solution to one of Africa's longest wars?

That I believe is a proposal that was also tabled at the discussions by the Sudan people's liberation movement and I think and hope that the Sudan government will give very very serious considerations to it.

7. Besides the north-south animosity, it is feared that the hatred between southern communities themselves is quite intense and deeply entrenched. How true is this?

Ethnic differences in the continent of Africa is still one reality that we have to live with. I don't think that the case of the Sudan is unique. Ethnic animosity, rivalries and struggles is a phase in our development. I think ethnic animosity comes up as a result of perception correctly or otherwise, of development or lack of it in many parts of our continent. People then tend to blame it on ethnicity when in fact the problem is that development or resources are not yet adequate to go round. As more and more areas of development are tackled, ethnic tension would tend to dissipate. As more and more people begin to be producers of materials for market and so on, people will tend to recognise each other as possible markets instead of possible targets for attack because they are different.

8. Do you have any other comment on the current war in Sudan?

Mine is a prayer that the rest of the Africa would wake up to that long drawn civil war in is the longest war in Africa dating back to August 18, 1955......a good 42-plus years and that is not a short time for a civil war. A lot of our people have grown in war and they have never known a society without war . I think the African people would do a lot of service to the continent by addressing the issue. Let all the countries and governments of Africa pay attention to that problem so that it is solved because once the Sudan problem is solved, in my view, we will have done the continent a lot of good.

Bethany House, P. O. Box 21202, Nairobi, Kenya
tel. +254.2.562247 or 569130, fax 566668

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

SCIO Homepage Africanews Homepage
PeaceLink 1998