Sudan Monthly Report

Current issue
June 15, 2000


  1. Chronology
  2. Attacks on civilians jeopardise talks
  3. Peace conference a milestone in uniting Sudan tribes


May 16: Sudan has called on neighbours Eritrea and Ethiopia to stop fighting to maintain stability and security in the Horn of Africa, a newspaper reported. According to the daily-al-Rai al-Aam, a cabinet meeting chaired by first vice-president Ali Osman Mohammed Taha said it would exert efforts to "stop the fighting between the brothers in the two countries.

16: Sudanese Islamist leader Hassan al-Turabi, ousted as speaker of parliament by president Omar al-Bashir in December after a power struggle between the two, has threatened to turn to the people and refused to rule out the possibility of violence after Bashir moved to restrict his political influence even further. Bashir issued a presidential decree suspending the national secretariat of the ruling National Congress party - including Turabi, its secretary-general - and closing down the offices of the party's secretaries in Sudan's 26 states, Sudanese media reported.

16: Southern Sudan last month lost one of it's most colourful leaders, Mr Adhol Achuil Aleu. A lawyer and politician of long standing, Mr Dhol died in Nairobi, Kenya, on May 9. He had been bed-ridden since the beginning of this year when he suffered a massive stroke.

17: Turabi said he would ignore the presidential decree and continue his political activities within the party, the Sudanese paper, Al-Ra'y al-Amm, reported. The former speaker said that the suspended 60-member general secretariat had expelled Bashir and six senior aides for violating party rules, though Sudanese media suggested this would have no effect on Bashir's power base, including the army, whose senior officers pledged their "full support" for the president.

17: Khartoum has made public its stated wish to see the use of a humanitarian rail corridor between Kosti and Wau - across the front line in the Sudanese civil war - to assist and drastically reduce the cost of humanitarian service delivery to affected populations. The government, encouraged by US Envoy to Sudan, Harry Johnston, in March, had formally written to the US to request the exemption from its economic embargo of parts needed by WFP to rehabilitate the rail line, according to a statement from the ministry of external relations.

17: The US has said it was "perplexed and concerned" by reports of renewed bombing attacks on Sudanese civilians since Bashir's April 19 announcement that his forces would stop all air raids against civilians. Washington urged Sudan "to live up to its commitment ... and ensure an end to all aerial bombardments in all parts of southern and eastern Sudan," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said.

18: SPLA leader John Garang told Egyptian foreign minister Amr Musa in Cairo that the movement favoured combining the Egyptian-Libyan peace initiative on Sudan with the IGAD process "so that there would only be one track of negotiations, not two," the Egyptian news agency MENA reported. Garang said the Bashir-Turabi machinations meant a crisis existed within the Sudanese regime. He said they were "both competing about who was more fundamentalist and extremist," MENA stated.

18: The damage inflicted on Sudan's oil pipeline in a rebel attack in the Bramio area, 30 km north of Sinkat town in Red Sea State, on May 1 was limited in scope, has since been repaired and did not affect the country's exports because it had enough fuel in stock at the Basha'ir Port to meet requirements, the official SUNA news agency quoted energy and mining minister Mohamed Ali al-Tawn as saying. Even if the physical impact of the bombing was limited, the fact that the rebels had struck successfully for the third time at such a huge and prestigious project pointed to the ease with which they operated in the Sinkat area and would boost their morale, a former foreign affairs official, Lt-Gen Sirr Mohamed Ahmad, was quoted as saying on Sudanese television.

18: Sudan and Tunisia have agreed to restore international relations and exchange diplomatic representation as a result of contacts established during recent summit meetings in Egypt and Cuba, according to Sudanese radio. Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail said the move was an important event and would support the two countries' positions in regional and international fora, particularly with Tunisia currently being a member of the UN Security Council, it said.

18: An Egyptian official has said that Col.Garang preferred to resolve Sudan's civil war without dividing the country. Mustafa al-Fiki, under-secretary at the Sudanese foreign ministry, said Garang had told foreign minister Amr Moussa that a reconciliation agreement was still possible.

18: Sudan has concluded two contracts totalling US$ 17 million with China for the purchase of power engines and irrigation water pumps. Under the first contract, China will provide Sudan with 40 electric power engines worth US$9 million, a release from the ministry of finance in Khartoum said.

20: The United Nations has said thousands of Eritrean civilians and soldiers were crossing into Sudan to escape renewed fighting with Ethiopian forces. The Geneva-based UNHCR said up to 18, 000 Eritreans have entered Sudan. Ethiopia and Eritrea, two of the world's poorest countries, are at war over a border dispute.

20: Sudanese government has termed as "irresponsible" the decision by the SPLA to withdraw from the country's peace talks brokered by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development. The talks were scheduled for Nairobi from May 17-23.

21: An anti-tank mine exploded under a vehicle owned by the Sudanese Catholic Church, killing 14 children and injuring 10 others, some of them seriously, a catholic missionary news agency reported. The MISNA agency said the blast took place when a four-wheel drive vehicle owned by the parish priest of Dilling drove over the mine near Dellami, some 100 km (60 miles) east of Dilling.

22: The Sudanese rebels' grip on the province of Hamashkureib is loosening as a result of the Ethiopian military operation in western Eritrea, the official al-Anbaa Arabic daily reported. Hamashkureib was captured last month by a combined force of the northern opposition parties in exile and southern-based SPLA.

22: The Sudanese government has decided to evacuate all Sudanese living in Asmara as the Ethiopian Eritrean war escalates. The first trip from Asmara to Khartoum by Sudan Airways was scheduled for May 22, 2000. However, the government said the embassy staff would continue to discharge their duties at Asmara until further notice.

22: President Bashir has directed the prison authorities to release all women convicted under the public order law. According to al-Ayam daily Omdurman prison had identified 757 inmates to be set free.

24: Rida Mining Company, a Sudanese-Saudi business has won a contract to prospect for gold in Berber area, some 40 km north of Khartoum. The director of the Geological Research Corporation, Omar Mohammed Khair, said the company considers the area promising of gold.

26: A mysterious fire gutted a Roman Catholic building in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, missionary sources have reported. The fire, said the sources, gutted part of a new extension of the Catholic Bishops' Conference building in Khartoum, causing damage estimated at about US$150, 000.

26: Sudanese rebels claimed to have killed at least 30 government troops including three army commanders during a six-hour battle in eastern Sudan. The battle in Rissai, near the border with Eritrea, left "heavy casualties" with 30 government soldiers killed according to an initial tally, Gen. Abdel Rahman Said of the opposition NDA said in a statement.

28: An Ethiopian diplomat in Khartoum has said the Sudanese armed opposition in Eritrea was not involved in any way in the ongoing war between the Horn of Africa nations. Ethiopia's charge d'affaires in Khartoum Abdu Legesse Bushra told a press conference his government's forces had not clashed with the Sudanese opposition.

29: The US-based Carter Centre, which brokered the failed Uganda-Sudan peace accord, is frantically trying to revive the pact. The Carter Centre is organising a Joint Ministerial Committee Meeting that will seek to have the two parties recommit themselves to the speedy implementation of the accord, signed in Nairobi last December by presidents Yoweri Museveni and Bashir.

31: The separation of religion and state is not appropriate for Sudan, which employs Islamic law, first vice-president Ali Osman Mohammed Taha told a news conference. The Islamist government "is committed to its declared principles, including Islamic law,' he said. He was replying to a statement attributed to him by the Egyptian government newspaper Al-ahram that the Khartoum is willing to separate religion from the state for the sake of national reconciliation.

31: The SPLA claimed that its forces had beaten off a major government attack on its positions in eastern Sudan. In a statement , SPLA spokesman Samson Kwaje said that its units within the opposition NDA forces repulsed major attempt by Khartoum forces to recapture Hamashkureib in eastern Sudan, inflicting heavy casualties on the attackers.

June 1: Seven people have been killed by SPLA fighters in the north western Kenya town of Lokichoggio, in a week, a Member of Parliament has alleged. Turkana North MP John Munyes said he had been informed that the local district commissioner, Mr Peter Mooke, visited the scene of the killings.

2: A Kenyan MP has claimed that Turkanas are planning to raid an SPLA camp near Lokichoggio and forcibly evict more than 500 rebel soldiers who live there because they have become a security threat to the region. MP Munyes told a press conference that the Turkana people will now take the risk of confronting the heavily armed militias after the government's decision to ignore their persistent demands that they be moved.

2: The Kenya government has denied knowledge of the illegal presence of Sudanese rebel fighters in Kenya's Turkana District. The minister in charge of internal security, Mr. Marsden Madoka, said he was yet to get information on the alleged activities of the SPLA in Lokichoggio.

4: Rebels have not launched attacks in which 312 troops have died in a month, the Sudanese government said. The SPLA issued a statement in Kenya's capital Nairobi, claiming it had scored victories over government forces in the Bentiu area in the last five weeks, killing some 312 troops.

5: More than 300 government troops were killed by rebel forces during separate confrontations in eastern Sudan, a spokesman for the SPLA said in a statement in Cairo. Yasser Arman said the soldiers were killed between May 29 and June 3 in fighting with rebel forces who also seized weapons and ammunition, according to the statement.

6: An upsurge of fighting has forced the Sudanese government to stop work at six key oil wells in the south west of the country, the SPLA said. "After the fighting by the SPLA in April and May in the Upper Nile region, during which 600 government troops were killed, the Khartoum regime was forced to order work to stop at six oil wells in the Heglig region, said SPLA spokesman Yasser Erman in a statement.

6: The deaths of two conscripts in Khartoum have alarmed a Sudanese public still traumatised by the 1998 drowning of 52 students who were fleeing a military training camp on the Nile. Officials say the deaths were from natural causes, with one recruit suffering malaria and other sunstroke---temperatures in the capital have been hitting a scorching 46 Celcius (115 Fahrenheit).

7: Nobody has been killed by the SPLA in Lokichoggio, Kenya police said. They were denying an allegation by the local MP that the Sudanese freedom fightrs killed seven Turkana pastorlists.

14: A Kenya police officer was shot dead by SPLA rebels at Kakuma Refugee Camp. Three SPLA soldiers are said to have been visiting their relatives at the camp when the incident occurred.

15: The Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Torit, John Akio Mutek, will on June 18 preside over the ordination of Deacon Alphonce Muras Chacha into priesthood. The ceremony will take place at Ikotos in the Diocese of Torit. Deacon Chacha of the Apostles of Jesus, has been serving at Yirol in Rumbek Diocese.

Attacks on civilians jeopardise talks

The failure of the latest round of peace talks on the Sudanese conflict did not come to many as a big surprise. In fact, keen followers of the Sudanese tragedy would have been pleasantly surprised had the May 17-23 meeting taken place in Nairobi as scheduled.

Predictably, the key protagonists in the protracted conflict, the Government of Sudan (GOS) and the rebel Sudanese Peoples Liberation Movement/ Army (SPLM/A) are now busy pointing an accusing finger at each other for this regrettable turn of events that poses a serious threat to the whole peace process brokered by the regional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

Since the beginning of the year, there has been little if any demonstration of goodwill by the warring parties, despite their declaration of intermittent cease-fires in certain areas, and of course the holding of other rounds of the peace deliberations. Instead, it has been a tale of sins of omission and commission that have only worked to undermine the entire peace initiative.

The GOS takes the lion's share of the blame for the failure of IGAD peace process to make any meaningful strides. Khartoum has appeared particularly evasive on the touchy issue of separating state from religion when it is all too apparent that this holds the key to unlocking the stalemate. At the same time, the military regime of Lt. Col. Omar Hassan el-Bashir has intensified the bombardment of civilian targets in the rebel-controlled areas, bringing to serious questions the government's commitment to the attainment of peace in his vast country. Not even the mounting international censure or the internal wrangles within the ruling National Congress have dissuaded the government from relenting on its raids on civilian targets.

With the establishment of a permanent IGAD secretariat in Nairobi, which has been in operation since the beginning of this year, it was hoped that the negotiation process would be expedited. It would however, appear, that things have continued to go round in cycles the same way they did before the secretariat came into existence.

Lui, Parajok, Yirol, Nimule, Kaya, Morobo, Kotobi and Tali, all in the south, have borne the brunt of aerial bombardments in the first three months of the new millennium. Some of them have been attacked more than once. Kauda in the Nuba Mountains in central Sudan and the oil-rich Southern Blue Nile have also had to contend with more than a fair share of the shrapnel-laden bombs. On at least one occasion, the bombs targeting southern positions have landed on Ugandan soil, further weakening the uneasy relation between the two neighbours.

Interestingly, within days of Khartoum's April 19 announcement of its cessation of aerial bombardment of civilian targets, it did the very opposite. Civilian targets bombed in the week preceding the failed round of talks include Lui, Tali, Lainya, Mading, Duk, Maridi, Pariang, Atar, Girgir and Hamashkureib.

The SPLA has continued to express its legitimate frustrations over these raids that have claimed the lives of all but soldiers without the government taking heed. At one point, the rebel movement appealed to the United Nations to declare the SPLA territory a no-fly zone for government planes to put an end to these heinous acts but nothing has been forthcoming. Other people of goodwill, out of sheer frustration, have wondered aloud why the international community cannot help the rebels acquire anti-aircraft missiles for self-defence.

Anybody, who has had a chance to have a glimpse of the scenes of the bombardments on a television screen, would find it difficult not to sympathise and empathise with the SPLA and the people under their control. Perhaps most distressing was the bombardment of the Holy Cross Primary School, Nuba Mountains, on February 8. This incident left 14 pupils and their teacher dead, while many others were injured, some of them seriously and were to meet their demise soon after. In the Nuba Mountains, like other rebel territory, medical facilities are few and far apart.

In announcing their suspension of peace negotiations with Khartoum, the SPLA lamented that Khartoum was actually waging a campaign of genocide under the guise of suppressing a rebellion. “Whereas the SPLA and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) forces exclusively conduct operations against legitimate military targets, the government systematically engages in bombing civilians, social services infrastructure such as hospitals and schools, in addition to sponsoring raids aimed at capturing and enslaving women and children,'' said SPLA spokesman Samson Kwaje.

IGAD, no doubt, remains the best forum for bringing peace to Sudan and withdrawal from it by any of the key players in the Sudanese conflict can only work to jeopardise chances of peaceful solution to the conflict. However, there is an urgent need for a radical change in its strategies if it is to achieve anything.

As the negotiations continue, a way must be found to keep at bay any acts of excessive provocation that may prove too frustrating to the parties involved. IGAD, for instance, has the capacity to lobby for an effective arms embargo on Khartoum.To expect the rebels to continue harping on dialogue when her people are gradually being decimated is tantamount to asking for an impossibility.

Sudan, independent since 1956, has known more war than peace. The current phase of the civil strife alone, now in its 17th year, has claimed an estimated 2 million lives. Hundreds of thousands of Sudanese have been forced into exile as refugees while equally large numbers remain displaced and destitutes in their motherland. This conflict, a product of colonialism, religious intolerance and inequitable distribution of the country's resources, should surely come to an end.

With all its riches, Africa's largest country continues to be a major burden to her neighbours and the international community at large, who have to provide safe havens and relief for thousands of Sudanese. Patience is running out and the possibility of the Sudanese being left alone to do whatever they wish with each other continues to become more and more real. Wouldn't it be prudent for the Sudanese leaders, both government and rebels, to change the tide before Sudan degenerates into another Somalia?

Charles Omondi

Peace conference a milestone in uniting Sudan tribes

Efforts to reconcile feuding southern Sudanese communities marked another milestone last month with the conclusion of an historic peace conference at Liliir, Bor County in the Upper Nile region.

Christened East Bank Nilotic People-to-People Peace and Reconciliation Conference, the May 8-15 meeting sought to establish harmony and peace amongst the Anyuak, Dinka (Bor and Padang), Jie, Kachipo, Murle (Boma) and Nuer (Gawaar and Lou). The conference was organised by the New Sudan Council of Church (NSCC) and was part of the continuing grassroots peace process.

The Gawaar-Nuer, however, did not participate in the conference, having been prevented from doing so by an Upper Nile faction. The delegates requested that the Gawaar and other groups who did not have opportunity to partake in the meeting be given a chance to meet and reconcile as soon as possible.

The latest move was inspired by the success of the previous West Bank Dinka-Nuer Conference, which took place at Wunlit in March last year and the subsequent numerous people-to-people agreements.

By last September, the NSCC reported impressive gains from the Wunlit agreement. A report issued by the ecumenical organisation then indicated that some 148 abductees had gained their freedom. In addition, 141 cattle had been recovered, five marriages involving former abductees formalised while those involved in any acts of violation had been arrested and charged.

The NSCC initiative has won wide acclaim for being more people-centred and thus an important complement to the regional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) peace campaign that seeks to end civil strife in Sudan.

A home to close to 600 ethnic groups, Sudan has been at war since independence from the British in 1956 with only 11-year's hiatus between 1972-83. The current phase of civil strife, which, in its broadest sense, pits the Arab and Islamic north against the predominantly Christian and traditionalist south, has claimed an estimated 2 million lives. The war, now in its 17th year, has seen splits and counter splits in the main rebel group, the Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA) along ethnic lines with devastating consequences on over 100 language groups in the south.

Analysts hold that the factional fighting in the south has been responsible for a greater number of the deaths than the direct clashes between Sudanese government forces and southern rebels. Villages and villagers have risen up against each other, clamouring for scarce resources, made scarcer through the protracted civil strife. Disputes over watering points, grazing land and fishing grounds have often led to bloody clashes between different communities.

The southern inter-ethnic animosity has been a boon to Khartoum's Islamic regime, which continues to manipulate it to its best advantage. To Khartoum, the factional fighting is more than adequate testimony about the southerners' penchant for war and their incapability to mange their own affairs.

Many are the southerners who view the SPLA as a tribal grouping whose sole objective is to establish a Dinka hegemony over the others. The Dinka are Sudan's largest ethnic group and comprise the bulk of the SPLA forces. Like Khartoum, the SPLA has been accused of numerous human rights abuses.

The Upper Nile conference was both complex and challenging, given the number of ethnic groups it involved. Over 250 traditional and civil leaders came together to address the animosity that has been the hallmark of the relations between their different ethnic groups as a result of the raging civil war. The conference welcomed a public declaration by a number of military officers, who in their capacity as civilian observers pledged their commitment to the people-to-people peace process.

To seal the multi-ethnic covenant, a white bull was offered as a sacrifice. Offering of Christian worship and the signatures of each of the participating delegates and observers complemented this.

Among other things, the delegates resolved to cease all traditional hostilities and urged all military (and militia) groups to respect the civilian population and abide by, and protect the covenant.

An amnesty was granted for all offences committed prior to the conference and a resolution made that all abducted women and children return to their places of origin. Additionally, it was agreed that where necessary marriages be formalised in accordance with the customary laws. Freedom of movement across the common borders was guaranteed and trade and communication encouraged.

The delegates appealed to all those who have been displaced, especially those from Bor area, to return to their homeland. Recognising the political leadership in the environment in which they operate, the delegates vowed to demand for good governance from their leaders and appealed for observance of human rights.

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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