Sudan Monthly Report

Current issue
January 15, 1999


  1. Chronology
  2. Pope ordains Monsignor Mazzolari
  3. Priest dies in road accident


December 17, 1998: Sudan's political parties remain opposed to legislation under which multi-party politics is to be allowed next year, saying it will not bring about genuine democracy, press reports said. An official of the Umma Party, which led a government coalition until a 1989 coup, dismissed the appearance of democracy as ”the worst totalitarian regime in Sudan's history”.

23: Sudan's Islamist ideologue Hassan al-Turabi has resigned as parliament speaker to focus on the running of the ruling party before the country reinstates the multiparty system on January 1 after a nine-year gap. Diplomats said the resignation, announced on state television, was mostly cosmetic and that political life would continue to be dominated by the ruling National Congress (NC) after opposition parties rejected the new multi-party law.

23: Famine could threaten millions of southern Sudanese again next year unless the government and rebels agree to extend a partial cease-fire in the country's long and brutal civil war, the UN has said. Although millions of dollars of aid helped to alleviate the effects of famine in southern Sudan in 1998, the food situation remains fragile, according to the UN Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS).

27: Sudan's defence minister has pardoned 163 military men who have been serving various prison terms for non-political reasons, a newspaper has reported. The independent daily Al-Rai Alaam said Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Suleiman has dropped the remaining prison terms of those army men following an “appeal by their families...on the occasion of the Muslim holy month of Ramadhan”.

29: The health of children in Bahr el Ghazal has been dramatically improved by the OLS emergency programme, new figures demonstrate. World Vision health staff have completed intensive nutritional surveys of Tonj and Gogrial counties of Bahr el Ghazal, where the agency operates therapeutic nutritional centres and clinics. It also distributes general food rations provided by the World Food Programme (WFP).

30: Sudan's opposition was due to meet President Omar el-Bashir to press the case for an end to his “single-party” government and for other measures ahead of elections, media reports said. Representatives of dissolved political parties, trade unionists and other figures, led by a veteran politician from south Sudan, Mr Abel Alier, were due to give Gen. Bashir a memorandum containing their views and demands.

January 1 1999: Exiled Sudanese opposition leaders have vowed to increase resistance to Khartoum after it rejected their call for a new constitution and government. “We commit ourselves to escalating pressure on the regime in military, political, media and diplomatic aspects,” former Sudanese prime minister Sadeq al-Mahdi, who is also leader of the UMMA opposition party, told a news conference.

3: The Sudanese government has rejected the call by opposition leaders for a national conference to draft a constitution and system of government representing all Sudanese, an official newspaper reported. Al-Anbaa quoted a presidential source as saying the presidency had refused to receive the opposition's memorandum because a new law on political activity was the only permitted channel of political expression.

3: Secret contacts are going on between Sudan and the United States to improve ties cut after the US bombed a Sudanese pharmaceutical plant last August, foreign minister Mustafa Osman Ismail was quoted as saying. He told the privately-owned Al Rai Al-Aam newspaper that extensive secret contacts were taking place between the two foreign ministries, adding: “Sudan's foreign policy stands on the principle of dialogue and listening to various viewpoints.”

7: Three people who allegedly attempted to assassinate top Sudanese rebel leader John Garang have been charged with murder. Justine Obute, Kul Garang and Amat Malual were charged with murdering Mr James Monywir Dogi Bol, a supporter of the SPLA but were not required to plead.

8: Sudan has imposed a new dress code on women requiring them to wear Islamic attire and a headscarf and will deploy public order police to ensure that it is observed, the official news agency SUNA said. It said the decision was taken by the public order and appearance committee, set up to ensure behaviour conforms with Islamic law which took effect in Sudan in 1991.

8: Foreign minister Ismail denied the country would enforce a new rule requiring women visitors to wear Islamic attire, the SUNA reported. “This news was completely untrue and there is nothing new in the procedure for entering Sudan,”: it quoted him as saying.

8: Sudanese diplomat and a compatriot were beaten in downtown Zagreb. Both were briefly hospitalised with slight injuries, Vecerniji daily reported. A group of young men approached the attaché, 35-year-old Ahmed Ali Abdel, and Adil Mekki Amin, 36, as they left the car to buy cigarettes at night. The men immediately started beating the two. The Sudanese eventually managed to run to their car.

8: President El-Bashir has accused political opponents of “high treason” for supporting forces bearing arms against his government. General el-Bashir was quoted by Khartoum dailies as warning the opposition against violating the new constitution.

9: A Sudanese rebel leader has defected to the government for a second time and is trying to revive his militia in a move that could threaten famine relief in south-western Sudan, rebels said. A senior rebel leader said Mr Kerubino Kwanyin Bol had defected from the SPLA just before Christmas and was preparing a return to his power base in the vast south-western region of Bahr el-Ghazal.

12: A party representing the Nuba people has been registered under a law that Sudan's Islamist rulers say will restore a multi-party system to the country rent by war. The Sudanese National Party (SNP) of veteran Nuba politician Reverend Philip Gabboush became the 11th political party to register since the law took effect on January 1, state television reported.

12: Fifteen people were killed and more than 40 injured when a bus and a truck collided head-on in central Sudan, newspapers reported. The privately-owned Alwan daily said the bus, travelling from Khartoum to Port Sudan, was trying to overtake another vehicle when it smashed into an oncoming truck at Al-Aribab, about 16 km east of Wad Medani.

13: Members of two armed factions backing the Khartoum government were killed and wounded when they clashed in Juba, the Akhbar al-Youm daily reported. The fighting broke out late on Sunday with the hurling of a grenade into a gathering being held by one of the two factions, killing an unspecified number of people, the paper said. The two factions belong to the South Sudan Defence Forces.

13: Seven people were killed and 25 injured in a rail crash and eight died in a traffic accident, Khartoum newspapers reported. Two passenger trains collided near the town of Abu Zeid in Western Kordofan. about 550 km Southwest of Khartoum, the government-owned Al-Anbaa daily said. it quoted Mr Omar Mohamad Nur, director general of the Railway Corporation, as saying the accident took place at 5 am after one train broke down at Darus, a small station.

14: Sudan has repeated a complaint to the UN Security Council over the US bombing of a pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum, the Al-Anbaa daily reported. Under-secretary of state for foreign affairs Mr Hassan Abdin told the paper that Khartoum had asked the Security Council to condemn the August 20 bombing raid and send a team to investigate US claims that the Al Shifa factory was producing ingredients for chemical weapons.

14: Fearing new famine, the WFP urged Sudan's warring factions to extend a cease-fire that expires in three days. The cease-fire in Sudan's 15-year-old civil war covers the southern province of Bahr el-Ghazal, where hundreds of thousands of people depend on what's become the largest aid operation in the world.

15: Sudanese war planes have bombed a hospital run by an international medical charity in southern town of Kajo Keji, completely destroying the immunisation block, the organisation has said. Three bombs, dropped on the hospital run by Medicines Sans Frontiers (MSF-Doctors without Borders), also caused extensive damage to the surgical theatre and the outpatient department, an MSF statement said.

15: Sudan has charged neighbouring Eritrea with massing troops on the frontier in preparation for an attack. “Information available to us indicates an Eritrean troop build-up along the common border with the objective of launching an attack on the country in the next few days in the Red Sea sector,” Lt Gen. Abdel Rahman Sir Al-Khatim said in a televised statement.

Pope ordains Monsignor Mazzolari

The head of the Catholic Church in the world, Pope John Paul II, on January 6, ordained Monsignor Caesar Mazzolari as the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Rumbek, Southern Sudan.
Monsignor Mazzolari, a Comboni clergy from Italy, was ordained along side eight others in a colourful ceremony at the St. Peters Basilica in the Vatican City, Italy. The others were Monsignor Alessandro D'Errico, to serve as the Nuncio in Pakistan, Alain Lebeaupin and Rafael Cob Garcia both of whom will serve in Ecuador and Monsignor Salvatore Pennachio, who will serve as the Nuncio in Rwanda.
Monsignor Pierre Tran Dihn Tu was ordained the bishop of Phu Cuong in Vietnam, Mattew Moolakkattu as the bishop of Siro-Malabaresi, India, Diarmuid Martin as the secretary for the council of peace and justice at the Vatican and Jose Louis Redrado Marchite to serve at the Vatican as the secretary to the council in charge of health operations.

The ceremony marked a milestone in Monsignor Mazzolari's long priestly career spanning over three decades. His appointment as bishop-designate was announced by the Vatican Radio on November 21.
Born in Brescia, Italy, on February 9, 1937, Monsignor Mazzolari attained his secondary studies in the minor seminaries of the Combonis in Crema-Brescia and Gozzano in his native country. He then went to the United Sates of America in 1953 for further college and theology training.

On March 17 1962, he was ordained a priest in San Diego, California. He remained in the USA for 19 years during which time he served in various priestly services among Mexicans, the Blacks and the Appalachians, doing formation work in minor and major seminaries of the Combonis in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Monsignor Mazzolari has had a long association with the expansive but strife-torn African state. The current phase of the civil war in Sudan is in its 16th year. The war pits the Arab and Islamic north against the predominantly Christian and traditionalist south.

The Italian clergy was first assigned to work in Sudan in 1981. He served as a curate in the Diocese of Tombura-Yambio in Western Equatoria, about 1,400 kilometres south-west of Khartoum.
Between 1984-90, he worked in Juba, the largest town in southern Sudan, as the Provincial of the Comboni missionaries in southern Sudan.
For the past eight years (1990-98), Monsignor Mazzolari has been the Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Rumbek.

The Diocese of Rumbek, which was established in December 1974, covers an area of 22, 000 square miles. It has a population of about 980,000. Monsignor Mazzolari becomes the third bishop of the see which has approximately 90,000 Catholics, or 10 per cent of the population.
The diocese also takes care of Sudanese Catholics at the Kakuma Refugee Camp in northern Kenya. As an apostolic administrator, Monsignor Mazzolari has been credited with the establishment of an ultra modern educational institution for Sudanese in the north-western Kenya town of Kitale. The institution, known as Blessed Josephine Bakhita Formation Centre, trains catechists, seminarians and teachers. It also offers short induction course on Dinka culture to foreign missionaries assigned to serve in the war-torn African state.

Among the members of delegation from Sudan at the ordination ceremony were the arch-bishop of Khartoum, Gabriel Zubeir Wako, bishop Paride Taban of Torit, the Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA) for Rumbek County, Paul Mayom Akech, and Commander Daniel Deng Monydit.

Charles Omondi

Priest dies in road accident

The Sudanese Catholic Diocese of Rumbek was on January 11 dealt a major blow when one of its priests died in a road accident.
Fr. William Lominong Remijo died together with Mr Malul Lul in the tragic accident that occurred on Rumbek-Wulu road in southern Sudan, about 1,400 kilometres south of Khartoum The dead, together with scores of others who suffered multiple injuries, were travelling in a Toyota Hilux four-wheel drive belonging to a German Non-Governmental Organisation Malteser. It was being driven by a driver employed by the NGO. The vehicle reportedly went out of control and rolled several times on the loose surface road.

Those injured included Albino Makwir, Andrea Mayom, Makur Bol and John Majok Matiang. They were taken to the Red Cross hospital at Lokichoggio, northern Kenya, for treatment. The war-ravaged Southern Sudan hardly has any hospital facilities to deal with an accident situation
Fr. Remijo's body was removed to Lokichoggio from where it was flown to his village in Eastern Equatoria January 12 for burial.
The tragic accident marred the celebration mood in the Diocese which followed last preceding week's ordination of Monsignor Caesar Mazzolari as the bishop of the see.
A member of the Dong'otono ethnic group, Fr. Remijo was ordained into priesthood at the Apostles of Jesus Shrine in Nairobi, Kenya, on August 15, 1996. The ceremony was presided over by the bishop of El Obeid, His Lordship Macram Max Gassis.

He was then posted to Diocese or Rumbek-run Blessed Josephine Bakhita Formation Centre in Kitale, Kenya. The institution, which was established in August 1996, is at the exclusive service of the Sudanese. It trains, catechist, seminarians and teachers. It also offers a short induction course on Dinka culture to missionaries assigned to serve among southern Sudan's biggest tribe.

In 1997, Fr. Remijo was transferred to Mapourdit in his mother country. After several months at Mapourdit, the priest, who was in his mid thirties, was moved to Rumbek town which fell to the rebel Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA) in April 1997.

Fr. Remijo's death comes hardly a year after another Rumbek Diocesan priest. Fr. Jervas Manyuat Deng died on March 11 last year after a long illness.

Until his death, Fr. Deng was the director of Marial Lou Comboni School. One of his major accomplishments was the compilation of a detailed report on the effects of drought and problems of displaced people in Pagor and Cucibet.

Charles Omondi



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