Sudan Monthly Report

Current issue
November 15, 1999


  1. Chronology
  2. Preparatory committee completes work
  3. Khartoum Catholic institution raided


October 16: The Sudan government has extended a comprehensive cease-fire "all over the areas of operations" in the south for another three months, starting on October 15, news agencies reported. State television said the government's decision was based on its concern to create a "positive" and "conducive" environment for the attainment of peace and was in response to appeals made by "brothers and friends."

16: Some 10,000 members of the founding conference of the ruling National Congress (NC) party have unanimously nominated President Omar al Bashir as the party's candidate for the next presidential elections. He was also elected party chairman while Hassan al Turabi was elected party secretary-general, Radio Omdurman reported.

17: Egypt has decided to expel two suspects in connection with the September oil pipeline bombing near Atbara in eastern Sudan, terming them "persona non grata", Radio Omdurman said. It said Egypt had decided to expel the two, Abdi al Rahman Sa'id and Abdal Aziz Khalid, prior to receiving a Sudanese government request for their extradition to Sudan.

17: Insecurity in northern areas of Kassala State in eastern Sudan continue to hinder WFP activities in Hamashkoreib province, the latest weekly Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) report said. Road transport between Kassala and Port Sudan remains cut, hampering the delivery of food aid in the area, it said.

17: The WFP barge convoy to Juba remained in Malakal because of concerns over the security situation in Unity State, affecting the delivery of food aid to thousands of vulnerable people in the area, the weekly OLS report said. The barge convoy was carrying food for over 300,000 beneficiaries in Unity, Upper Nile, Jonglei and Equatoria regions.

17: Five WFP staff members, together with other UN/NGO personnel, were evacuated from Bentiu following further deterioration of the security situation in the state, the weekly OLS report said. The evacuation resulted in the suspension of OLS annual needs assessment missions in Mayom, Tong and Gezira, it added.

18: A meeting of Sudanese opposition leaders set to take place in Cairo, Egypt, to work out a position on peace talks with Khartoum was postponed, opposition sources said. The meeting was rescheduled after some officials, including the head of Umma Party, former Sudanese prime minister Sadek al-Mahdi, failed to reach Cairo in time, Umma spokesman Ahmed al-Hassan said.

20: Libya and Egypt are seeking to revive efforts to reconcile Sudan's Islamist rulers with their foes and end the civil war, a Sudanese opposition leader said. “Egypt and Libya are trying to arrange a preparatory meeting for a national conference,” Mubarak al-Mahdi, secretary-general of the NDA said.

21: Two Sudanese rebel factions took no time at all to disagree on the best way to approach peace talks with the Khartoum government as they began a two-day strategy meeting in Cairo. Mohammed Osman al-Mirghani, president of the NDA, said a Libyan-Egyptian peace initiative launched last May was the best “comprehensive political solution”.

23: Calling on the government of Sudan to take the people of the rebellious south seriously, US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright committed US funding and support to end the 16-year civil war. Ms Albright who will be meeting with southern Sudan rebel leader John Garang said that despite hostile relations between Washington and the Sudanese government, she believed the US could play a role in helping to mediate the conflict.

23: Bentiu, the main town in Sudan's oil-rich Unity State, is being constantly shelled by forces formerly allied to the government, witnesses said. Travellers who arrived in Khartoum in army aircraft and other means told Reuters that Bentiu is being bombarded by troops of renegade commander Peter Gadiet.

24: Albright met Col. Garang to discuss possible food aid for his guerilla army and efforts to end the country's 16-year-old civil war. The US government provides diplomatic support to SPLA in its insurgency against the government in Khartoum but has refused to supply it with military aid.

25: Egyptian foreign minister Amr Moussa held talks with Sudanese counterpart Mustafa Osman Ismail on the vexed question of how best to negotiate an end to Sudan's 16-year-old civil war. Ismail told reporters after the talks that Sudan's Islamist-led government saw merit in both peace channels now on offer.

25: Pibor River province in Sudan faces evacuation after the worst floods for over 30 years caused devastation and brought life to a virtual standstill, a newspaper said. Floods have submerged most of the province, wiping out cattle and wildlife and destroying schools and hospitals after a week of unseasonal heavy rains, Ismail Konyi, the commissioner of the province was quoted as saying by the government-owned Al Anbaa newspaper.

25: Albright has said Washington would seek more international pressure on the Sudanese government in a bid to end the long running civil war in the south of the county. Speaking in Nairobi after a morning of talks on the Sudanese conflict, she criticised countries, which think investment in Sudan will trickle down to the people.

29: President Bashir, whose country's ties with Cairo have long been strained, will visit Egypt soon, foreign minister Amr Moussa said. Mr. Moussa told reporters in Cairo after talks between president Hosni Mubarak and Sudanese foreign minister Mustafa Osman Ismail that he felt “optimistic” about ties with Egypt's southern neighbour.

30: Saying it was "deeply concerned" that oil extraction in Sudan may be contributing to the forced relocation of civilians, Canada has announced it would field a mission to examine allegations of human rights abuses in the country. "If it becomes evident that oil extraction is exacerbating the conflict in Sudan, or resulting in violations of human rights or humanitarian law, the government of Canada may consider, if required, economic and trade restrictions," Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy said in a press release.

November 6: WFP barges have started returning to Kosti from Malakal because insecurity has prevented the food aid convoy from proceeding towards Juba, WFP said. The barge convoy, which arrived in Malakal on September 21 carrying food for over 300,000 beneficiaries in rebel- and government-held locations along the Nile River corridor, had been unable to continue its journey upstream due to insecurity in Unity State, WFP said.

6: Torrential rains in the southern Kordofan capital of Kadugli have affected over 18,000 people, including some 8,300 children, according to a report from the UN Humanitarian Co-ordination Unit (UNHCU) in Khartoum.

7: OLS will be "condemned to fight a perpetual uphill battle against human misery and deprivation" without the full and uninterrupted co-operation of the warring parties, UN secretary-general Kofi Annan said in his annual report on emergency assistance to Sudan. Annan noted that the 1998 humanitarian crisis in Sudan had been exacerbated by a temporary ban on OLS flights.

11: The French organisation, Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF) has branded Sudan among the 20 “enemies of the Internet”. Some 45 governments control partial or total Internet use under the pretext of protecting their citizens from “subversive ideas” or content threatening national unity.

11: Sudanese rebels have rejected an invitation to negotiate directly in Canada with the Khartoum government, but said they welcomed a Canadian initiative to end their war. Foreign minister Osman Ismail said he was ready to meet Garang in Ottawa, after Canada extended an invitation to both parties.

15: Peace talks between Uganda and Sudan scheduled for South Africa have been postponed because Sudan's president is ill, a South African official said. The meeting, to have taken place in the port city of Durban, was aimed at smoothing relations between Uganda and Sudan, which have been tense in recent years as each has accused the other of helping rebel and dissident movements.

Preparatory committee completes its work

Sudan Catholic Bishops' Conference's Justice and Peace Preparatory Committee (JPPC) has completed their fact finding mission and compiled a report on the same. The report is the culmination of three weeks of hard work that saw the committee members travel to South Africa, Uganda and Kenya.

The JPPC comprises Bishops Caesar Mazzolari, Daniel Adwok and Johnson Akio Mutek and Father Celestino Paul.
Others are Fr. Kamilo Afore, Mr. Francis Bassan and Mrs. Awut Acuil. The JPPC is the precursor of a National Justice and Peace Commission, whose members are expected to be appointed next January. The Commission will have two secretariats, one in Khartoum and another in Nairobi.

The decision to set up the Commission was arrived at in Nairobi, Kenya, last August during the annual gathering for all the Catholic Bishops of Sudan. The meeting had devoted several sessions to exploring and devising new strategies in the Church's efforts to bring peace to the war-torn country.

“The seven members of the JPPC were blessed with warm reception and full co-operation by the three Catholic Bishops' Conference of South Africa, Uganda and Kenya and through them gained access to agencies, diplomatic and government bodies,'' said Bishop Mazzolari.

Each of three countries visited has its own peculiar experiences. South Africa, for instance, witnessed the emergence, growth and the collapse of the apartheid system and is today a shining example of prosperous democracy in Africa. In Kenya, the Justice and Peace Commission has had to deal with such issues as tribal clashes, corruption, land grabbing and the massive gap between the rich and the poor. In South Africa, the delegation from Sudan held talks with the country's minister for defence and his foreign affairs counterpart whom Sudanese rebel chief John Garang had met a little earlier.

They also went to Regina Mundi in Soweto where most of the massacres took place during the apartheid era in the 1970s. The Sudan delegation further took part in a confirmation mass punctuated with African liturgy.

In Uganda, the peace mission visited several human rights offices and held discussions to correct the wrong impression about the human rights record that the Sudan government agents have created/creating all over the world.

They said they discovered to their dismay that a lot of people outside Sudan had a wrong perception about what was going on in the country since Khartoum was spending a fortune on public relations campaign.

The purpose of the Justice and Peace Commission is to develop, foster and promote the social teachings of the Church, as dictates that are fundamental to defend the lives and rights of all peoples in Sudan. Towards this end, it will undertake the following activities: Initiate programmes of formation and awakening the awareness of the Sudanese people on human Rights violation in Sudan.

  • Strengthen the formation of agents of evangelaization on the justice and peace issues in the country.
  • Work closely with Sudan Catholic Bishops' Conference, Amecea countries, local, national and international institutions to promote justice and peace in Sudan.
  • Denounce acts of injustice against the Sudanese people in the spirit of non-violence.
  • Encourage ecumenical collaboration on issues that affect human life and human rights and develop regular programmes of Christian prayer, unity and reconciliation.
  • Develop the people's conscience to commitment, responsibility and fidelity, motivate and support them towards Christian unity, solidarity and sharing.
  • Strengthen, encourage and promote dialogue of life among the Sudanese people.

“Wherever the JPPC went, it experienced the power and protection of the Spirit and we pray that the work of developing the SCBC National Justice and Peace Commission will continue to happen under the powerful presence of the Spirit, whose fruits are love peace, patience kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness self control (Gal. 5,22),'' the final report says.

Charles Omondi

Khartoum Catholic institution raided

People suspected to be Sudanese security agents on October 29, 1999 stormed the information division of the Catholic Secretariat in Khartoum and confiscated a number of items, leaving a wave of destruction on their trail.

A fax message from the Secretariat to the Sudan Catholic Information Office in Nairobi indicated that among the items taken away from the Church office were two computers, one of them an IBM donated recently to the office by the Vatican for the Year 2000 Jubilee. No programme had been installed on the computer. The other computer confiscated was for general office work.

On the fateful morning, explained the message, a man who identified himself only as Charles knocked at the gate of the Secretariat but when the guard on duty opened, 10 other men forced their way in. They beat the guard, tied him up then drove their Toyota pick-up inside the Church institution. The men, six in khaki uniform and the rest in plain clothes and who were all armed, then proceeded to break all the doors to the communication department.

The incident was reported to the police who termed it an ordinary burglary and promised to investigate it.

Though the motive behind the raid was not clear, a Secretariat official, who declined to be named for security reasons, said that it was not an isolated incident but part of Khartoum's grand plan to intimidate Christians and frustrate the growth of the Church. He said the raid could not have been an ordinary act of thuggery as those involved in it were in uniform, well organised and seemed to target very specific items.

Last May, the Secretariat suffered a similar misfortune when suspected government agents stormed its trans-receiver radio room and took away the aerial.

The manner the predominantly Islamic government treats the Christians and their institutions remains a contentious issue.

Whereas Khartoum maintains that there is freedom of worship in Africa's most expansive state, the reality on the ground indicates otherwise.

The radical Muslim government for unexplained reasons expelled last August, a Canadian priest who had worked in Sudan for seven years.

Father Gilles Poirier, 57, was escorted by police to Khartoum airport and put on a plane bound for Canada by unidentified persons. The expulsion came after Fr Poirier had been summoned to the Department of Immigration on July 15 and told he had two weeks to leave the country.

Father Poirier worked in the slums outside Khartoum where he administered development loans for the poor to open businesses.

The Canadian clergy lived in the same parish where Father Lino Sebit, a Sudanese, was arrested last year and charged with 25 others with a series of bomb attacks in Khartoum. He is still on trial in a military court.

Other incidents that have been viewed as persecution directed against the Church in Sudan include the confiscation of the Catholic Club in central Khartoum by the government. The Catholic institution has since been made the headquarters of the ruling National Congress Party.

A piece of land belonging to the Episcopal Church of Sudan at Omdurman has also suffered similar fate.

Charles Omondi

Bethany House, P. O. Box 21102, Nairobi, Kenya
tel. +254.2.577595 or 577949, fax 577327

For further information, please contact:
Fr. Kizito, SCIO, tel +254.2.577595 - fax +254.2.577327 - e-mail:

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