Sudan Monthly Report

Current issue
July 15, 2000


  1. Chronology
  2. Deadly famine knocks on Sudan's doors
  3. Book recounts history of the church through 2000 years
  4. Women to have more say in peace talks


June 17: Sudan will mark the 11th anniversary of the coup that brought president Omar Bashir to power by making its own weapons, the independent al-Wifag newspaper quoted the leader as saying. "Sudan will celebrate the festival of the revolution this year with the production of tanks and heavy equipment by Sudanese hands," Bashir was quoted as saying during a public address at Umruwaba Province in Northern Kordofan State.

19: Two days after the United States and Kenya agreed to push for resumption of peace talks to end Sudan's 17-year civil war, SPLA said they were willing to return to the negotiating table. Samson Kwaje, a spokesman for the SPLA, said the group's leadership had met in southern Sudan and passed a resolution lifting suspension of participation in peace talks with immediate effect.

20: In a little more than a month since it has been operating, a Chinese-built refinery has increased supplies so much that the price of gas cylinders has dropped by half for Sudanese consumers. Attif Ahmad Hamid, deputy director of the Khartoum Refinery, said as he guided reporters around the facility located some 50 km (30 miles) north of the capital.

21: One student was killed and six others wounded when police opened fire during anti-government protests at a university in central Sudan, provoking the university's closure, officials said. Sudanese police spokesman Major General Abu Bakr Adel Qadir said in a statement that the clashes occurred when students chanting anti-government slogans tried to enter Sennar University campus for an illegal rally.

21: The Egyptian ambassador to Khartoum has said his country is strongly opposed to the idea of separating the south from northern Sudan "and is determined to prevent such a separation by all means.''
Speaking at a symposium organised by Azhari University in Omdurman, Ambassador Mohamed Asim Ibrahim said Egypt's "regional and international pressures have been the sole obstacle in the way of separating southern Sudan."

22: President Bashir, seeking to end his country's 17-year-old civil war, has granted a general amnesty to anyone who committed an act of rebellion since he seized power in 1989. The official Sudanese news agency SUNA reported that Bashir had decreed an "unconditional general amnesty" to any Sudanese civilian or military, who committed an act of rebellion between June 30, 1989 and June 20, 2000

22: Essam Mirghani, deputy commander of a northern opposition group named the Sudan Alliance Forces, has dismissed president Bashir's amnesty as a smokescreen aimed at propping up Bashir's own position rather than a serious bid to solve Sudan's conflict.

23: Sudanese rebels said they had killed 430 government troops in a three-day battle in Sudan's oil-rich Western Upper Nile region. Fighting began between the government-held towns of Mayoum and Bentiu when the rebels ambushed a government convoy, said Mr. Yassir Arman, spokesman for the SPLA in the Eritrean capital Asmara.

23: Talisman Energy Inc. said it is considering selling its 25% interest in Sudan's Greater Nile Oil production and pipeline project. "We have been contacted by a number of people over the possibility of selling it. In time we might do that," James Buckee, the company's president and chief executive, said at the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers investment symposium.

25: Sudan has confirmed that three more areas are being opened up in the country for oil exploration. The energy and mining ministry said the new areas are the Blue Nile Basin, the extreme west of Sudan near the Chadean border and the Red Sea zone. The energy and mining ministry's under-secretary, Hassan Mohammed Ali el Taum said a new bid round will begin in July with licenses being granted before the end of the year.

25: Members of the UN Security Council have began examining a draft resolution to remove sanctions imposed on Sudan in 1996 after an attempt on the life of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Diplomats said experts were studying a draft submitted by Mali, one of three African countries with non-permanent seats on the council.

26: The SPLA has captured the strategic town of Gogrial in the Bahr-el-Ghazal region of southern Sudan, SPLA spokesman Samson Kwaje said in Nairobi. Kwaje said the town fell at 1300 GMT on June 24 after four days of heavy fighting, triggered when government forces came out of Gogrial and started attacking SPLA positions and undefended civilian villages around the town.

26: International oil companies are sizing up a number of new opportunities in Sudan, following the success of the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company (GNPOC) in bringing on stream the Heglig and Unity fields, some 800 kilometres southwest of Khartoum. "I know of at least 10 companies interested in acquiring new blocks," says Hassan Mohamed Ali, a Khartoum-based consultant who was involved in the Heglig scheme.

26: Five of the 12 relief agencies that suspended operations in rebel-held southern Sudan plan to return to the region following assurances by the Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Association (SRRA) that it would respect their humanitarian principles. The SRRA has agreed to review its memorandum of understanding to recognise the principles of neutrality and impartiality.

26: Sudan's ruling National Congress party met for a session that could result in a formal split between partisans of president Bashir and his rival, Islamic ideologue Hassan al-Turabi. The party's shura (consultative) council, which has about 580 members gathered behind closed doors at the Chinese-built Friendship Hall in Khartoum, party sources said.

27: President Bashir won another major battle against his main political rival, Mr Turabi, when the ruling National Congress party chose a new secretary-general. In a 10-hour meeting, the party's Shura Council chose Mr. Ibrahim Ahmed Omar, president Bashir's assistant for political affairs, as the new secretary-general .

27: The US state Department said that it opposes the lifting of UN sanctions against Sudan until that country takes verifiable steps to end its support for terrorism. "In terms of the sanctions position, we do not support the lifting of sanctions until the government of Sudan takes concrete, verifiable steps to end its support for terrorist groups," spokesman Philip Reeker said in response to question about recent contacts between the US and Sudan.

29: Turabi has formed his own party, after he was replaced as head of Sudan's ruling party. Thousands of Turabi's supporters gathered outside his Khartoum house to celebrate the founding of his Popular National Congress Party.

29: Sudan's National Congress party said a rival group founded by an ousted Islamic leader posed no threat, despite news that a second minister had quit the government to join it, newspapers said today. "The new organisation will not affect the march of the National Congress, on the contrary we have surpassed the stage of obstacles," Khartoum governor Mazjoub al-Khalifa

29: Representatives of the international humanitarian community operating under the auspices of Operation Lifeline Sudan have urged the parties involved in the Sudanese conflict to keep to mutual agreements and declared humanitarian ceasefires, and to work with the humanitarian community to achieve unimpeded deliveries of humanitarian assistance. They called on the parties to ensure the protection of the civilian populations at all times.

July 1: Sudan's opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has accepted a proposal by president Bashir to convene a forum of all the country's political forces provided the meeting is held outside Sudan. NDA official Ali Ahmed al-Sayyed said the forum plan, which Bashir's proposed, was "a positive step" but fell short of NDA demands for more political freedoms, a halt to the civil war and calling of presidential and legislative elections set for next October.

3: A team of USA experts visited Sudan to examine and assess the security situation in the country prior to reopening the US embassy in Khartoum, foreign minister Mustafa Osman Ismail was quoted as saying by a newspaper in Khartoum. The experts had talks with Sudanese officials on differences between Khartoum and Washington, including the US accusation against Sudan of sponsoring terrorism, and humanitarian rights issues, as-sahafi ad-Dawli daily reported.

3: Khartoum has agreed to let the UN fly relief to areas controlled by the SPLA in the Nuba Mountains in central Sudan, a senior relief official said. Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Sulaf al-Din Salih said the government had agreed for the assistance, which includes farming tools, seeds and medicines, to be flown to the region from El-Obeid airport in central Sudan's Kordofan province.

5: A government aircraft bombed Rumbek village in southern Sudan killing a young girl and a pregnant woman, villagers said. It was the latest violation of a humanitarian ceasefire in the southern province of Bahr el Ghazal between southern rebels and the Islamist government in Khartoum.

6: The SPLA mainstream said it had captured the town of Maban in the upper Nile region of southern Sudan. Mr. Justin Yaac, spokesman for the SPLA, said the forces took the town after a 12-hour battle with government troops.

8: A group of 49 Sudanese rebels from the opposition Democratic Unionist Party army have returned to Sudan from bases in Ethiopia and surrendered their weapons, a press report said. The militiamen crossed the border in Ghazra in eastern Sudan, Akhbar Al-Yom daily said, following orders from Ethiopia for all Sudanese opposition groups to leave its territory.

8: An Anglican bishop from Sudan has appealed to the United States to come to the aid of Christians in the African country he said were being persecuted by the ruling Muslim majority. Bishop Peter Munde of Yambio, told the General Convention of the US Episcopal Church, part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, that the effect of the 17-year-long civil war has been brutal on average citizens.

8: The US Commission on International Religious Freedom has issued a statement urging Congress and the Administration not to lift sanctions on Sudan before that country takes verifiable steps to end religious persecution and engage in serious negotiations to end the country's 17-year civil war. The Khartoum government is trying to end United Nations sanctions imposed after Sudan gave refuge to would-be assassins who attacked Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1995.

9: Thousands of panic-stricken civilians are deserting the southern Sudan town of Wau for fear of an imminent showdown between the SPLA and the government. Speaking in Nairobi on return from Sudan, Bishop Caesar Mazzolari of the Catholic Diocese of Rumbek, said the massive human traffic has been triggered off by fears of a possible attack on the town by SPLA forces.

9: Sudan's security and defence councils held a rare joint meeting a day after rebels claimed to have taken a strategic southern town. The official news agency SUNA said that President Omar Hassan al-Bashir had presided over a meeting of the security and national defence chiefs at which undisclosed security measures were taken.

10: An African body seeking to end Sudan's civil war will send a delegate to Khartoum to arrange a fresh round of peace talks in Nairobi next month between the Sudanese government and rebels, an official said. Daniel Mboya, an official for the east African Inter-governmental Authority on /Development (IGAD), will arrive in a few days to discuss arrangements with Sudanese officials, said one of them, Mutref Siddeiq.

10: South Sudanese rebels claimed to have seized a government garrison town in the oil-rich Southern Blue Nile state, killing 15 government soldiers and wounding many. Anambul, situated on the banks of River Nile, fell to fighters of SPLA, the rebel movement said in a statement released in Nairobi.

10: The UN said fighting in Southern Upper Nile province had forced at least 4,000 people to flee their homes, shortly before a six-month caesefire was scheduled to expire on July 15. Fighting between SPLA and government forces erupted earlier this month around Gogrial in Bahr el-Ghazal province and Maban in the Upper Nile region.

11: President Bashir cancelled a trip to Togo for the African summit for health reasons, his office said. President Bashir was to have left for Lome, Togo, for the OAU meeting, but "doctors advised him not to go so that his fatigue would not be aggravated", a presidential spokesman said on a customary condition of anonymity.

12: European parliament has tabled a resolution urging the Sudanese government to stop supporting the Ugandan rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and particularly to cooperate in freeing all children abducted by the rebels. The resolution noted that thousands of children had already died in captivity from hunger, disease, beatings, stabbings and the fighting itself.

15: The SPLA said it killed 93 government troops and captured a key bridge linking the south and north of the country in recent clashes. The SPLA said its forces took the heavily defended railway bridge on Lol River near Aweil in Bahr el-Ghazal.

Deadly famine knocks on Sudan's doors

A famine akin to the one that devastated southern Sudan two years ago could be knocking on the doors of the expansive African state yet again. And like was the case in 1998, the imminent calamity is largely a man made one with a little input from nature.

Two years ago, not less than 200,000 people starved to death in what was described then as the worst food crisis in Sudan in a decade. Besides the warring parties, the rest of the world was blamed for dragging their feet in recognising the famine as the catastrophe that it turned out to be. Early warnings largely went unheeded. It was not until July 1998, when the UN put the affected population at 2.6 million out of 27 million Sudanese that serious action began. A decade earlier (1988), some 250, 000 Sudanese were killed by famine.

Intensive military operations in southern Sudan in the past four weeks alone have seriously undermined whatever little gains had been made towards attainment of minimum food sufficiency levels. Massive displacements, disruption of agricultural activities, inaccessibility and the sheer terror visited on the civilian populations in the recent weeks have combined to inexorably change the already bad situation to a worse one.

It all began when the rebel SPLA captured the government-held town of Gogrial, about 1,100 kilometres south of Khartoum on June 24. The feat, which the SPLA insists was a reaction to a provocation by the government forces, was in violation of a ceasefire agreed by the warring factions to facilitate relief operations in the region.

Angered by the loss of this strategic town, Khartoum, in her characteristic style, reacted with total disregard to war conventions by dropping several bombs on civilian targets in the SPLA territory. Twelve bombs hit Yei in southwestern Equatorial, near Uganda border, on June 30. One civilian was injured and a house reduced to rubble. A market and an area between the Catholic and Episcopal churches in Rumbek town were bombed on July 2 killing two civilians and injuring at least 23 others. A day earlier, six bombs hit Cueibet, northwest of Rumbek, and damaged two houses. Buot cattle camp, 25 kilometres from Cueibet, bore the brunt of five bombs on the same day. Liethnom and Lunyaker in Bahr el-Ghazal were blasted with 10 and 20 bombs respectively. The death toll from the Rumbek incident had risen to six by July 5.

With the fall of Gogrial, it has been largely expected that the SPLA would next target Wau, the southern most town with a railway connection with Khartoum. This has triggered off a massive human traffic of panic-stricken civilians from Wau. Wau now remains extremely vulnerable to the rebel attacks as it is sandwiched between the SPLA territory.

One and perhaps the most effective strategies Khartoum can use to ensure its continued control of Wau, is aerial raids by the dreaded Antonov planes, which the SPLA seem to have no answer to. This way, Khartoum will be realising its long-held counterinsurgency plan of holding the civilians in a grip of fear as a means to destroy the rebels' social base, displacing, killing or capturing and stripping the people of the meagre assets that provide the means of survival in a harsh land.

"After consultations with MSF Belgium and leaders of Kwajok Payam, we have established that between 70,000 and 100, 000 people will leave Wau for fear of the anticipated showdown," says Bishop Caesar Mazzolari of Catholic Diocese of Rumbek. He said that between 2,000 and 5,000 had fled northwards to Malwalkon and the surrounding villages.

"These people," said the Comboni clergy, "will be flocking into other areas in the Bahr el Ghazal region and are desperately in need of basic necessities such as food, shelter, mosquito nets and medicines. Only very prompt and decisive action by the international community can save these people."

Bhar el Ghazal, with its scarce resources, is already hosting thousands of displaced people fleeing fierce fighting from the oil-rich Unity State and eastern Sudan bordering Eritrea and Ethiopia.

Bishop Mazzolari said the World Food Programme does not have enough food to cater for the displaced and the SPLA was now concentrating all its energies on the war efforts. "The Church therefore appeals to the world not to forget the Sudanese tragedy, much as it is not the only one in the world today."

The Bishop who met the MSF Belgium team and the local leaders at Ajiep from July 1-5, expressed fears that the food situation would be further compounded by the fact that the forced migrations have coincided with the rainy season when the people would be preparing their farms. The local leaders at the meeting were finance administrator Aurelio Anyuc, education officer Santino Marol Deng and magistrate Seferino Ajic.

Others were executive chief Alfred Det Kuol, field supervisor Garang Lual and Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Association development officers Adriano Ayon Deng and Aleu Kon.

Like was the case with the previous famines, those to be affected most by the current one are the Dinka, the largest ethnic group in Sudan. The majority of the victims are in Bishop Mazzolari's diocese.

The Bishop expressed his gratitude to all those who have contributed in any way in sensitising the world community to the Sudanese crisis. He paid special tribute to the BBC TV, which on the evening of July 6, 2000, had a clip on the recent bombardment of Rumbek.

Sudan, independent since 1956, has experienced different phases of civil war, with the current one dating back to 1983. The war, in its broadest definition, pits the Arab and Islamic north against predominantly Christian and traditionalist south. Together with it attendant consequences, the current phase of the civil strife has claimed about two million lives and forced thousands into exile as refugees. About four million Sudanese live as Internally Displaced Persons in their motherland.

Charles Omondi

Book recounts history of the church through 2000 years

If there is one place where the resilience of the Christian faith has been demonstrated, then it is Sudan. From the Biblical days of the Ethiopian Eunuch, whom researches have now proven to have been a Sudanese, it has been a tale of the faith overcoming almost innumerable odds to survive.

The fascinating stories of the emergence and consolidation of Christian kingdoms, the challenges from the Islamic onslaught and eventual defeat of the kingdoms, are indicative of Christianity's ability to survive in the extreme of circumstances. Then came the early missionaries and the horrifying devastation visited upon them by the hostile climate and a myriad of tropical diseases in the then African jungle. The early Christian crusaders died in their droves yet the message they sought to spread lived on.

Not even the lengthy colonialism with its characteristic political machinations that more often than not were at variance with the Christian ideals succeeded in stemming the tide of Christian zeal.

Today, Christianity remains at the core of the Sudanese civil strife whose current phase is now in its 17th year. Whereas Khartoum insists on a theocracy with Islam as the state religion, Christians and traditionalist from the south have said a firm no and continue demanding for freedom of worship.

Now, a new impetus has been added to this struggle by Christianity in Sudan to curve for itself a rightful niche in the expansive state. The new catalyst comes in the form of a whooping 688-page documentation christened Day of Devastation; Day of Contentment: The History of the Sudanese Church Across 2000 Years.

Authored by three prominent scholars and veritable friends of Africa, Dr Roland Werner, Rev William B. Anderson and Rev. Andrew C. Wheeler, Day of Devastation, Day of Contentment is the first and doubtlessly the most comprehensive ecumenical history of Sudan. It is one book all shades of the Christian faith in the vast nation can identify with without any qualms.

The book is divided into four main parts, each of, which has several chapters describing the various stages of the Christian evolution in Sudan spanning a 2000-year period. Maps and pictures are generously used throughout the book to help readers have a better and lasting grasp of the content.

"Reading this book," says Francis Deng, one of the most eminent Sudanese scholars, "reveals both the historical forces that have divided Sudan and commonalties of experience that could be a potential source of unification."

"Sudanese from both the north and the south will find in this book that Christianity has deep roots throughout the country and that it is as much a legacy of the history of the country as Islam, with an even greater claim to deeper roots," he says in his foreword.

Other forewords for the book have been written by the Catholic Arch-bishop of Khartoum, Gabriel Zubeir Wako, and Rev. Dr John Gatu, the retired Moderator and General secretary of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa.

Though essentially religious in content, Day of Devastation; Day of Contentment should be an essential reading for all those interested in the Sudan from a wide variety of perspective, historical, political, cultural and of course religious. Quite in conformity with its title, the book is characterised by alternating themes of conflict and harmonious interaction. It is written in a simple straightforward style that is sure to win wide acceptance among readers in general and Sudanese in particular.

At the end is a rich library of sources and selected bibliography for the benefit of those who may be keen to delve deeper into a particular theme. The last page has a brief biography of each of the three authors.

Published by Nairobi-based Paulines Publications, Day of Devastation; Day of Contentment has a beautifully designed front cover with a map showing the entire stretch of the Nile River from Eastern Africa to the Mediterranean. The River Nile, the source of life for the vast land it traverses, is the cradle of the world's most ancient civilisation.

The cover material is glossy and immensely attractive to the eye. Next to the map of the Nile Valley is a simple cross, the symbol of the Christian faith. The cross is identified in one of the book's last pages as the one that stands on the banks of the River Naamat the entrance to the church and the Bible College at Dhiaukuei in Bahr el-Ghazal region. It was erected by Reuben Macir Makoi (later the Episcopal Church of Sudan Bishop of Cueibet). At its foot, many visitors to the Christian community in Dhiaukuei have been welcomed, including the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Officially launched at Nairobi's Holy Family Basilica on June 28, 2000, the book will again be launched in Sudan capital Khartoum, to signify the unifying role it is expected to play in the state torn apart by war.

How did the authors of the book acccomplish such an onerous task, one way pose?

The project to write the book dates back to 1996 when Reverends Anderson and Wheeler formed the Sudan Church Study Project. Researchers and interviewers were trained and deployed in both North and south Sudan to gather oral testimonies from relevant people. Mission and other archivers were contacted in Europe and North America. Correspondence was conducted with former missionaries and with Sudanese Christians the around the world.

A milestone was reached when in February 1997; a major international symposium was convened in Limuru, Kenya that brought together about 40 scholars with an interest in church and religious history of Sudan.

Out of the conference deliberations came the Faith in Sudan series of books, all published by Paulines Africa in Nairobi. Day of Devastation, Day of Contentment is the 10th in the series and the culmination of the intensive and extensive research programme.

Charles Omondi

Women to have more say in peace talks

Sudanese women are set to have a greater say in peace negotiations for their country following the creation of a Women's Desk at the regional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Secretariat for Sudan.

Making the announcement, United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) programme officer Janet Kabeberi-Macharia said her organisation had worked closely with Igad to create the Desk to be launched soon.

Ms Kabeberi made the announcement at a Nairobi hotel on June 23, 2000 during a reception for Sudan Women Advocacy Mission to New York and Washington DC. The reception was organised by Unifem in collaboration with the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Nairobi and the Mennonite Central Committee.

The Sudanese Mission was in the USA from June 2-14 to receive the USA's National Peace Foundation (NPF) prize for their efforts to find a peaceful solution to the Sudanese conflict now in its 17th year. The NPF is one of USA's principal education organisations concerned with conflict resolution and peacebuilding.

Since 1990, the Foundation has undertaken a wide range of international programmes, as well as work in urban schools in the US. Its recent international programmes include support of civil and cultural activities in Bosnia and conflict resolution training in Central America. NPF Fellows have carried out assignments in South Africa, the Middle East and the South Caucacus region.

The Sudanese war, in its broadest definition, pits the Arab and Islamic north against the Christian and traditionalist south. Together with its attendant consequences, the Sudanese civil strife has, to date, claimed an estimated 2 million lives. Thousands of others have been forced into exile as refugees while equally large numbers eke a living in their motherland as Internally Displaced Persons.

With both African and Islamic traditions heavily skewed against them, Sudanese women and children have continued to bear the brunt of what has been described as the world's longest running civil war with little or no say at all in any initiatives to bring it to an end.

The Mission to the USA comprised six women and was led by Ms Amira Yousif from the north and Ms Rebecca Okwaci from southern Sudan.

Some of the women's successes, said Ms Okwaci, are reflected in the awareness and training sessions at the community level, regional contacts, particularly Igad and international advocacy and conferences, such as the Hague appeal for Peace and last month's Maastricht Declaration.

Ms Kabeberi-Macharia noted that there was need to strengthen the participation of women in all peace initiatives for Sudan since the process of reconstructing a society emerging from war requires equal contributions from men and women.

The Igad peace process for Sudan began in late 1993 at a time when the military government and the SPLA were the two main parties in the protracted war. At the same time, the Sudanese regime preferred to deal with all conflicts as purely internal matters rather than internationalising them, an approach that the conflict with the SPLA defied. It is against this background that there remains only two parties to the Igad negotiations even though there are now several warring factions in both north and southern Sudan.

Until last year, the Igad process consisted of short meetings between Khartoum and the SPLA delegations once or twice a year. In mid last year, a secretariat was set up in Nairobi with Kenyan Ambassador Daniel Mboya as a special envoy. The new direction was taken to ensure that the peace initiative becomes an ongoing process rather than a series of sporadic meeting.

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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