Sudan Monthly Report

Current issue
April 15, 1999


  1. Chronology
  2. Dinka, Nuer in peace and reconciliation deal
  3. Sudanese Christian tradition deserves respect


March 16: A Sudanese official dismissed as “unfounded” allegations by the UN Children's Fund of continued slavery in Sudan and challenged Unicef to provide names of sellers, buyers and victims. Mr. Ali Ahmed al-Nasry, the chairman of a government-appointed committee investigating allegations of women and child enslavement, said Unicef was seeking to weigh in on UN human rights rapporteur who is preparing a report on Sudan, according to the Suna news agency.

19: Sudan has protested a UN agency claim that slavery is increasing in the African country, the official news agency reported. The foreign ministry summoned Unicef”s representative in Khartoum after Carol Bellamy, head of the UN children's fund, said Sudan's 16-year civil war led to an upsurge in “grotesque practices” such as slavery, it said.

20: Sudan's adherence to Islam is in the root of many of its problems, president Omar el-Bashir has said at a recruitment rally, while vowing that Khartoum would continue to defend the faith at all costs. “Sudan bears all forms of sanctions, problems and wars due to its raising the banner of la ilah alla Allah (there is no god but Allah),” Gen. Bashir said at Marinu in Sennar State, according to press reports.

23: Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni and Rwandan leaders have said their adversaries are Sudan and the Rwandan interahamwe militia. At a press conference following Museveni's visit to Kigali, the Ugandan president said the “crucial element” in the Great Lakes conflict was “Sudanese terrorism and the interahamwe.”

24: Sudan has said it wanted to see Egypt admitted to the international forum, which is attempting to resolve the conflict between the government and the SPLA. Sudanese junior foreign minister Ali Abdel Rahman Nimeiri told the official Suna news agency his government would seek to admit Egypt into the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), in view of the “common interests” of Sudan and Egypt.

24: President Bashir has left Khartoum for Saudi Arabia to take part in the hajj, or Islamic pilgrimage, to Mecca, palace officials said. President Bashir was accompanied by his presidency affairs adviser Mr. Ahmed Ali el-Imam, they said.

24: The Sudanese government relief workers have distributed more than 10, 000 tonnes of relief food to displaced people in Sudan so far in March, according to Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC). A commission official, Mr. Khalid Faraj, said more than 6,000 tonnes were distributed to more than 245,000 beneficiaries in the north Sudan.

25: A Sudanese government official who once supported independence for the south of the country has accused guerilla leader John Garang of “brutal dictatorship” and mass human rights violations. David de Chand, a Christian from southern Sudan who broke with Garang's SPLA movement in 1991, also said that Western groups campaigning against alleged slavery were trying to provoke US intervention in favour of rebels.

25: The US and 19 other nations providing aid to Sudan want help jump-start the peace process in Africa's largest country, a Clinton administration official has said. J. Brian Atwood, head of the Agency for International Development, said the US was working with these nations to “increase the pressure on both sides to extend the cease-fire scheduled to expire in April 15.

26: WFP urgently needs funds to prevent its emergency food supplies for Sudan from running our in June, a statement from the UN food agency said. An additional US$63.8 million is urgently required to provide food for the rest of 1999. Some 2.3 million Sudanese rely on WFP food for their survival.

26: The United States Agency for International Development has warned those Sudan risks becoming a “forgotten tragedy”. Announcing aid to Sudan worth over $130 million to date in the 1999 financial year, USAID's administrator Brian Atwood said: “Sudan continues to be the world's greatest humanitarian crisis but tends, due to the ever growing number of disasters, to be what has come to be called forgotten tragedy”. He told a US sub-committee on African affairs.

26: The European Commission has approved humanitarian aid worth $14.7 million for victims of conflict in Sudan. The aid managed by European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO) will support about 30 health water and food security programmes over the next year, according to an ECHO statement.

30: Ugandan authorities have detained 104 rebels of the SPLA for selling firearms in northern Uganda, a newspaper reported. The rebels are being held in northern district headquarters of Kitgum, 420 kilometres north-east of the Ugandan capital, Kampala, according to the independent daily, The Monitor.

April 1: Sudan's national assembly speaker Hassan al-Turabi has said Sudanese opponents abroad, including former prime minister Sadek el-Mahdi, will be welcome back home to practice politics. “I do no see any reason that makes the opponent remain abroad after the constitution has been passed…It is their right to return to Khartoum and participate in politics,” Mr. Turabi said, according to Akhbar al Youm daily.

1: Humanitarian agencies working in the Malakal area of Sudan's Upper Nile region have reported a decrease in the number of patients suffering from an outbreak of watery diarrhoea and vomiting that killed some 213 people over the past month. Since March, 2,746 cases had been recorded, aid workers said.

1: SPLA said it inflicted massive human and material losses on Khartoum forces during a three-day battle in southern Blue Nile state, a claim rejected by Sudanese government. Intensive fighting was reported between the two sides around the town of Ulu.

2: The ICRC has said it was appalled by the deaths of a Sudanese Red Crescent worker and three government officials who had accompanied an ICRC team in southern Sudan. In a press release, the organisation said the four were killed by SPLA who had detained them since February 18 when they strayed into SPLA/M territory near Bentiu.

6: The Sudanese government, reacting to the deaths of four Sudanese hostages last week, said it would review accords made with the SPLA. All necessary measures including military, security, administrative and legal steps would be taken to prevent a re-occurrence (of the deaths of the hostages),” said foreign minister Mustafa Osman Ismail, adding he was setting up a committee to review the accords.

7: President Bashir has said he was prepared to extend a partial cease-fire in Bahr el-Ghazal and Western Upper Nile to all of southern Sudan. Gen. Bashir called on the SPLA to respond to the call for the extension of the cease-fire, which expires on April 15.

8: President Bashir has unilaterally extended a cease-fire in southern Sudan and urged the rebels to reciprocate. Speaking in parliament, Bashir said the cease-fire would take effect on April 15. He did not say how long the truce would last, nor did he define the operational zones.

9: SPLA has dismissed Khartoum's “comprehensive cease-fire” offer and instead announced a three-month extension of the “humanitarian cease-fire” in Bahr el Ghazal western and central Upper Nile. The SPLA acknowledged that a comprehensive cease-fire was “part and parcel of overall solution” to the present conflict in Sudan.

10: Sudan's foreign minister has rejected assertions by a UN investigator that Khartoum allowed Arab tribesmen to seize civilians in the war-torn south and sell them as slaves. Mr. Ismail told a news conference the investigator, Argentine lawyer Leonardo Franco, had presented no real evidence to support his allegations in a report to the UN's Human Rights Commission which is now in session in Geneva.

12: The first few hundred of an anticipated influx of thousands of Sudanese refugees have crossed into Uganda from north eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), joining other Sudanese refugees in camps and settlements in the Ugandan district of Arua, according to WFP weekly report. With insecurity having dispersed many of an estimated 30,000-50,000 Sudanese refugees in eastern DRC, aid agencies are preparing for up to 10,000 of them to enter Uganda.

12: Sudanese rebels have overrun two camps of the pro-government militia, killing more than 120 militia fighters and wounding about 300, their spokesman said. The battle took place when guerrilla of the SPLA stormed camps of the Islamic Front in the eastern province of Blue Nile, SPLA spokesman Yasser Armsan said in a statement.

Dinka, Nuer seal peace and reconciliation deal

The age-old animosity that has been the hallmark of relations between the Dinka and the Nuer could be headed for a thaw.
In an unprecedented move that could have national implications, the two largest southern Sudanese communities early last March signed a covenant in which they vowed to commit their energies towards reconciliation and lasting peace in the war-ravaged country.
Dubbed the Wunlit Dinka-Nuer Covenant, the milestone agreement was the culmination of week-long deliberations (February 27- March 8) brokered by the influential New Sudan Council of Churches (NSCC). It was signed by more than 300 Dinka and Nuer chiefs, community and church leaders, women and youth.
The presence of Commander Salva Kiir, the number two man to Colonel John Garang, the leader of the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA), was of particular significance as it was an indication that the move had the backing (at least in part) of the SPLA, the largest rebel group fighting against the Khartoum government.

Commander Kiir himself is a Dinka from Gogrial region.
In attendance also was the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Rumbek, Monsignor Caesar Mazzolari. The majority of the slightly over two million Dinkas live in Msgr Mazzolari's see.
In an act that rekindled the memories of the Biblical covenants, a large white bull (mabior thon/ tu-bor) was slaughtered and a stern declaration made that anyone going against the vows of the occasion, would go the white bulls' way.

Amnesty was granted for offences committed prior to January 1, 1999, freedom of movement across the lines of conflict was affirmed and inter-communal commerce, development and services encouraged. Other resolutions reached were:

  • All hostile acts shall cease between Dinka and Nuer whether between their respective military forces or armed civilians.
  • Border grazing lands and fishing grounds shall be available immediately as shared resources.
  • Displaced people are encouraged to return to their original homes and re-build relationships with their neighbours.
  • The spirit of peace and reconciliation of the covenant to be extended to all communities in southern Sudan.

The Dinkas and Nuer, both of whom are cattle keepers, have since time immemorial fought almost innumerable battles over livestock and grazing land.
The Nuers, like most other southern Sudanese communities, accuse the Dinkas of seeking to establish a tribal hegemony, courtesy of their numerical superiority and imagined “cultural superiority”. Other southern Sudanese groups include the Shilluk, Lotuko, Alur, Azande, Toposa, Mudu, Kakwa, Jur and Bakaa. Since the outbreak of the current phase of the Sudanese civil war in 1983, the tribal animosity has assumed a political angle, with Khartoum tacitly fuelling it to make the southerners perpetually vulnerable pawns.
Besides other consequences, the Khartoum intrigue has occasioned splits and counter-splits in the SPLA since 1992. It is in same seven and a half years' period that the Dinka-Nuer animosity has been most vicious.

In 1997, a former leading SPLA leader, Dr. Riak Machar (a Nuer) led a host of disenchanted SPL:A factions in re-joining Khartoum. Dr. Machar, who now heads the South Sudan Independent Movement, has since been declared the president of southern Sudan by the Khartoum. Dr. Machar also holds the portfolio of Sudan's second vice-president. He remains an avowed enemy of Col. Garang.
Another faction leader, Dr. Lam Akol, a Shilluk, also holds a cabinet position in the Arab-dominated government of President Hassan Omar el-Bashir. Like Machar, he quit the mainstream SPLA in 1992 to form a faction to which he remains the leader to date.
Besides the NSCC, the Sudanese Women's Voice for Peace has been instrumental in fighting inter-ethnic conflict in southern Sudan. The group has held several conflict resolution workshops for women. They focus on the central role women play in society and reinforce women's capacity to stabilise and unify their communities.

Charles Omondi

Sudanese Christian tradition deserves respect

There is a genuine Christian tradition in Southern Sudan that has sunk its roots into the lives of Sudanese people for over a century.

Christianity has gradually been inculturated into the traditional culture, indigenous religiosity and moral standards and into the vernacular of the people.

Christianity has its distinctive physiognomy in Sudan due to unique indigenous character of its people. This distinctive Sudanese life expression of Christianity must be jealously protected.

Of late, under the pretexts of redeeming Sudanese slaves, terminating hunger and war, or to explore more fully health conditions, several little-known foreign religious groups have collected large sums of money from their churches in western countries with which they have easily bought their way into Southern Sudan.

Once there, they lure the young and the old into their following with material goods which the southern Sudanese are desperately in need of.

Blankets, clothes, soap, salt, gold watches, earrings, bracelets, toys of all kinds, sweets and electronic items are all used as baits.

For the first time in my 19 years of service in Southern Sudan, on March 14, I found myself celebrating mass in a crowded catholic church with children caressing dolls, dropping rubber toys to the ground, stringing yoyos up and down and blowing bubbles of chewing gum right under my nose. Young girls wore the most elegant ornaments in their hair and costly earrings.

This made me ask my people as I held my large crucifix up high: “Did Jesus win you to himself with blankets, new clothes, soap, salt or many beautiful things such as watches, bracelets and toys? NO! He gave his very life on the Cross for you and me!''

I went on: “Know that your Bishop has a deep concern as your Christian Shepherd. You are allowing strangers to buy you away from your faith in the real Christ, the Son of God, with mere blankets, golden objects or amusing gadgets or toys. I beg you, my people, hold on to your greatest treasure, your faith!”

In the name of Ecumenism and sound Christianity, no foreign group that has inadequate knowledge of Christian living in Sudan should come and raid Christians away from their respective churches then abandon them.

It is an opportunistic approach in a time of abject poverty, hunger and never-ending war to come and weaken the time-tested Christian faith by offering what they most desperately need. This causes confusion to many of our Christians who may be weak in their faith.

These less-known groups divorce Christians away from a Christ-centered religion and instill into our naïve people the misconception that theirs (the less-known groups') is indeed the best solution out of their (Sudanese's) desperate situation.

This is desecration, contamination and institutionalised spiritual and moral confusion.

All of these pave the way for the simplistic acceptance of any religion. What these groups create is the best setting for non-Christians to buy confused and needy people away from us spiritually and morally in a country that is at war.

Some non-Christian religions have the richest and most abundant resources to buy out our Christians and there is no better time to do it than when our faithful are confused, mystified and desecrated from the true concept and vision of Christian religion.

There is an on-going reconciliation process alive in Southern Sudan to avert raiding and misappropriation between tribes. We must come to a climate of reconciliation among the traditional Christian churches of Sudan. More specifically, we must define our genuine Christian physiognomy as Sudanese Christians and prevent raids and contamination of this well-established image from any external forces.

We can't sit back and wait. The time is now, before the contamination spreads.

All Christian leaders in South Sudan must stand firm and support their flocks so that they are NOT derailed from their faith and then deserted. Let us teach, govern and sanctify Christians in Sudan with more church personnel who are dedicated to preserve the Christianity that has become typically traditional to the people.

The Sudanese beautiful physiognomy of Christianity cannot be manaced or disrespected by unenlightened foreign infiltration. Sudanese Christianity deserves respect!

Caesar Mazzolari
Bishop of Diocese Of Rumbek
Southern Sudan



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