Sudan Monthly Report

Current issue
January 15, 2001


  1. Chronology
  2. Oil revenue fuels civil strife
  3. New French group to champion Sudan s cause


December 15, 2000: The bombing of civilian and humanitarian targets by the Sudanese government aircraft doubled in the year 2000 as compared to the previous year, according to a statement released by the US Committee for Refugees (USCR) in Washington DC. Sudanese air force planes had attacked civilian and humanitarian targets 132 times in the year 2000 as compared to 65 times in 1999, the statement said.

15: Libya and Uganda have agreed to convene a second quadripartite meeting in Tripoli to discuss the follow up of the process to normalise relations between Sudan and Ugandan, frozen since 1995, diplomatic sources said in Tripoli. The secretary of the Libyan people's general committee on African unity and the foreign ministers of Egypt, Uganda and Sudan are expected to attend the meeting aimed at restoring relations between the two neighbours.

16: Sudan has arrested more than 65 leading members of the outlawed Muslim fundamentalist group believed to be behind the massacre of more than 20 people in a mosque, a newspaper reported. Akhbar al-Yom newspaper said security officials were interrogating the detainees of the Takfir wal-Hijra group, one of whose members gunned down Muslims of the rival Ansar al-Sunna sect during evening prayers.

16: Sudan has urged US president-elect George W. Bush to change US policy towards Sudan, although it appeared skeptical of any change in this policy would materialise. Minister of state for foreign affairs Gabriel Rorec, in a statement to independent as-Sahafa daily, congratulated Bush and his Republican party on winning the election and called upon the president-elect to "take a new political course" and to "abide by full neutrality towards Sudan and its issues."

16: The People's Congress party led by Hassan al- Turabi and the Democratic Federation Party led by Muhammad Osman al-Merghani, have launched strong criticism against the Sudanese government, accusing the regime of investing the new laws to liquidate its political opponents through detention and confiscation of freedoms. In a statement issued by the Sudanese daily Alwan, the People's Congress party said that "the government has used the incident of al-Jarrafah mosque in Um Durman and amended the national security law so as to detain for a period of three months, noting that this amendment came from a system which does not have the right to do so at the absence of the national council."

17: More than 3.2 million people in Sudan are facing serious food and water shortages because of the combined disruptions of a civil war and a widening drought, according to the director of the United Nations World Food Programme."We see a looming crisis in the Sudan," Catherine Bertini, the programme's executive director, said in an interview from the agency's headquarters in Rome.

17: Sudan has complained to Dutch authorities about their support for a planned Christian radio station, which has been accused of links to southern rebels, newspapers reported. The Netherlands' acting charge d'affaires in Khartoum, Jan Waltmans, told AFP his country was helping finance the New Sudan Council of Churches' radio station. He could not confirm or deny a link between the station and the SPLA.

19: The controversial Atbara cement factory, located 300 km north of Khartoum has finally been sold for US$40 million to Dal Company, a Sudanese business and its French partners, la Varge. The deal will end a row over the factory's privatisation that continued for over a year now

19: Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has congratulated the US President elect Bush. A Sudanese governmental source said that Khartoum hopes to have the rule of the new president a further understanding for pending issues in the relations between the two countries, stressing " the readiness of the Sudanese government to deal seriously and to maintain a dialogue with the new US administration so as to explain and clarify the points of differences in the relations between the two countries.

19: Ballot centres spread in 56 Sudanese embassies have been witnessing increasing turnout in the number of voters as the rate of voters who cast their votes reached between 50 to 70 % of the total number of eligible voters of 350,000 Delegations representing regional and Arab organisations headed for the Southern Sudanese city of Juba to inspect the process of the elections in the cities of Wau and Malakal.

19: The chairman of Sudan s general elections commission Abdul Menem al-Zein al-Nahas leaves Khartoum for the Arab Gulf region to monitor the process of the elections at the Sudanese election centres and embassies in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. In another development, the Sudanese Umma Party led by al-Sadeq al-Mahdi said that its consultations have continued with the government in order to reach a final agreement that will lead to a comprehensive solution that will be debated with other political forces to be agreed upon and then to move to a new phase that will lead to democracy and freedom.

20: Animals stolen from the Kenyan Turkana community will be returned following a four-day peace meeting with three Sudanese tribes, which ended in Lokichoggio town. The meeting, which is the second in the last two weeks between the Turkana, Toposa, Didinga and Dongiro youth, accused community leaders of sponsoring raids for their own selfish gains.

20: Sudan has accused Uganda of sending arms to the SPLA and of furthering US policy by helping to thwart Sudan's bid for a seat on the UN Security Council in October. AFP quoted Sudanese external affairs minister Mustafa Osman Isma'il as saying during a news conference that Uganda had allowed NGOs "unregistered with Sudan or with the UN to move arms and ammunition" from Uganda to the SPLA in southern Sudan.

24: President Bashir affirmed that Sudan wants to deal with the new American administration by opening a new page in the two countries' relations. Interviewed by the Doha-based Jazeera TV Channel, president Bashir expressed his hope that the new American administration accepts this proposal so as to resume normal relations between Sudan and the United States.

25: President Bashir has ordered the release of more than 600 prisoners from jails in Khartoum and across the country, the official Sudan News Agency (SUNA) reported. "The decision was taken on the occasion of celebrations marking independence and Eid al-Fitr al-mubarak (Muslim holiday following the fasting month of Ramadan)," the agency said.

25: In an interview with London-based al-Mustaqillah TV, in conjunction with the Sudanese satellite TV channel, president Bashir, has said that the decision to hold elections in the country was a fulfillment of the pledge by the [National] Salvation Revolution to achieve democratic transformation in the country. He added that the elections were postponed several times to enable various political forces to take part in it.

January 2 2001: Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika has expressed his country s willingness to help achieve national reconciliation in Sudan and called on government and opposition to sit down to negotiations for the sake of the nation s unity. President Bouteflika, who arrived in Khartoum on a three-day state visit, made the offer in a speech delivered at a celebration he attended with Sudanese president to mark the 45th anniversary of Sudan s independence.

7: President Bashir has extended the of emergency in Sudan for a year, the official Sudan News Agency SUNA reported. The agency gave no reasons for the extension of the emergency, which was first declared on December 12, 1999, during Bashir s power struggle with former parliamentary speaker Hassan Abdallah al-turabi, an Islamic ideologue who was once a key ally.

7: The Sudanese air force is avoiding targeting civilians but will not allow rebels to hide behind human shields, foreign minister Ismail said in remarks published in Cairo Egypt. The use of air power will continue against the rebels wherever they are and we will take care to avoid civilians, Ismail said in an interview with the Egyptian government news Al-Mussawar.

8: The American Anti-Slavery Group (AASG) has announced that Sudanese government forces enslaved 72 black African women and children during slave raids, on January 5. AASG President Dr. Charles Jacobs condemned the raids as war crimes, and called upon President Clinton to explicitly condemn the raids and demand the immediate liberation of the enslaved civilians

8: Egypt s Foreign Minister, Amr Moussa, is due to arrive in Sudan in a further effort to end the country's 17-year civil war. During his two-day visit to Khartoum, Mr. Moussa is expected to meet president Bashir, as well as foreign minister Ismail. Egyptian officials said the talks would focus on re-activating the Cairo-Tripoli peace initiative for Sudan, as well as the crisis in the Middle East.

9: The Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company (GNPOC) plans to drill 17 exploration wells and 25 development wells in its four blocks in southern Sudan this year, an executive of consortium member Talisman Energy Inc. said. Ralph Capeling, Talisman's general manager in Sudan, told reporters the consortium, in which Talisman holds 25 percent, expected to spend about $66 million on exploration, $133 million on development and $73 million on production out of a total upstream budget of around $360 million in its Heglig and Unity fields in 2001.

10: Eyptian foreign minister Amr Mussa has said in Khartoum, that the time was right for a peace conference involving all Sudanese factions. Before leaving Khartoum, he told journalists that Egypt was "seriously working toward holding a meeting soon of inter-Sudanese reconciliation, because the time is now more favourable than before.

10: Large numbers of displaced people around Upper Nile in southern Sudan were putting pressure on local populations whose food needs were not secure, and fears were growing of a humanitarian crisis, UNICEF spokesman Martin Dawes said Humanitarian agencies have indicated that food needs will increase in Sudan, and contingency preparations are underway to address the approaching crisis.

10: The human rights organisation Amnesty International has expressed concern about eight opposition political activists and two lawyers who have reportedly been held without charge in solitary confinement for over a month. In an urgent alert issued, Amnesty said one of the detainees, Ghazi Suleiman, a lawyer from the Sudanese Human Rights Group, had been hospitalised twice since his arrest and there was concern that he had been tortured in custody.

11: Severe drought in western and parts of southern Sudan has put at least 900,000 people at risk of famine, a United Nations official said. "Wells have dried up for lack of rain in Northern Darfur and the water table is very, very low," Nicholas Siwingwa, deputy country director of the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP), told reported after a recent visit to the area.

13: The Bishop of Diocese of Rumbek, southern Sudan, His Lorship Caesar Mazzolari, presided over the burial of two Sudanese sisters who drowned on January 8, 2001 when trying to cross a flooded canal on their way from school. Apout Mabuoc, 14, and Achol Mabuoc, 8, were pupils at Nairobi s Langata Road Primary School.

15: This year s Sudan Catholic Bishops Regional Conference (SCBRC) annual meeting will be held at Dimesse Sisters, Nairobi, from January 22-27. The SCBRC brings together the six bishops working in the SPLA territory in southern Sudan, the Nuba Mountains and southern Blue Nile.

Oil revenue fuels civil strife

Gains from oil exports are fueling the 18-year-old civil war in Sudan, the latest report by the distinguished and authoritative Human Rights Watch says.

The annual report further reveals that both the government of Sudan and the rebel groups in the vast African country remained gross human rights abusers in a war that has defied numerous peace initiatives.

A gloomy picture is also painted of efforts to end the current phase of the civil war that began in 1983. Negotiations to end the war appeared fruitless, whatever the forum or venue. The parties remained stalled on the issues of the relation of religion to the state and self determination, the Human Rights Watch Report says.

Sudan, ranked among the world's poorest nations, began exporting oil in August 1999, following the successful completion of 1,650 kilometre pipeline from Bentiu in the south to Port Sudan. Beginning with an average of 150,000 barrels daily, the output quickly rose to 200,000 barrels per day and raked in huge profits for the military regime.

The oil exports helped boost GDP growth to an estimated 7.2 percent last calendar year against a targeted six percent, according to Sudanese Finance Minister Mohamed Khair al-Zubair. He put oil income at $1.327 billion in 2000, up from $530 million the previous year.

Analysts had from the onset of the oil exportation expressed their apprehension that the abundant revenue accrued from the trade would mean that Khartoum had lost any incentive whatsoever for a peaceful solution to the conflict.

Why would a brutal junta, which has violated virtually every human right in the book, make peace with its adversary if it has the resources to be victorious and impose its final solution? posed Mel Middleton, the director of Canadian NGO Freedom Quest International.

The government, however, put up a strong defence insisting that the wealth was what she needed to initiate equitable development that would pacify the war ravaged Sudanese society.

In the seemingly endless 17-year civil war, the government stepped up its brutal expulsions of southern villagers from the oil production areas and trumpeted its resolve to use the oil income for more weapons, says the Human Rights Watch report.

It adds: Under the leadership of President (Lt. Gen.) Omar El Bashir, the government intensified its bombing of civilian targets in the war, denied relief food to needy civilians, and abused children's rights, particularly through its military and logistical support for the Ugandan rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), which held an estimated 6,000 Ugandan children captive on government-controlled Sudanese territory.

Other evidences on the use of oil incomes for war purposes included Khartoum s announcement that the gains, constituting 20 percent of its 2000 revenue, would be used for defence, including an arms factory near Khartoum. Defence spending in US dollars increased 96 percent from 1998 to 2000.

Not coincidentally, government use of air power and bombing increased. When SPLA violations of the cease-fire in Bahr El Ghazal temporarily halted the movement of the government's military train, the government counter-attacked by bombing not only the cease-fire area, but also the rest of the south, the Nuba Mountains, and the eastern front.

The Human Rights Watch account is another devastating indictment of Canadian Talisman Energy Incorp, the lead company in Sudan's oil exploration business. Other well-known partners to the Sudanese government in the oil industry are Malaysian and Chinese companies.

Talisman, asserted Amnesty International in its report on Sudan and oil development (May 2000), is complicit in massive human rights violations. It is also responsible for sending revenues to Khartoum for huge military expenditures, expenditures which end up taking an increasingly horrific toll on civilians in the south, the report said.

According to the Human Rights Watch report, Sudan s human rights record of gross abuses was one factor that denied her a Security Council seat at the UN General Assembly vote last October. Sudan was the Organisation Of African Unity s (OAU) preferred candidate but concerted opposition by USA and Uganda saw the seat go to Madagascar.

Not surprisingly, the bombardment of civilian targets by the government, that marked most of last year, is mentioned more than once in the report. In July, 250 bombs hit civilians and their infrastructure in the attacks, which set a new high according to conservative calculations based on UN relief reports. Among areas targeted for attack were relief, health and school facilities.

Khartoum is further accused of arming tribal militias from the Arab Baggara tribes (the muraheleen of Western Sudan) for use as proxy fighting forces against the Dinka civilians in the Bahr el Ghazal region. Although slave-taking became their trademark, the muraheleen conducted few successful slave raids in 2000 because the SPLA deployed forces in northern Bahr el Ghazal and armed the Dinka boys guarding the cattle camps.

The muraheleen were also used to guard the military train to the southern town of Wau, from which they attacked and plundered the neighbouring villagers.

Like is the case almost everywhere in sub-Saharan Africa, conditions in Sudanese prisons remained shocking. The Omdurman Women s Prison is singled out for mention for chronic overcrowding, lack of sanitation, disease and death from epidemics among children who lived with their mothers. Says the report: The government annually pardoned women, temporarily easing overcrowding before bringing in the next batch of prisoners.

Last year, Khartoum pardoned over 700 women majority of whom were poverty-stricken, illiterate southerners convicted of brewing and selling alcohol for their survival.

As for the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), the principal armed movement of the south and of all Sudan, the Human Rights Watch Report says, its forces continued to loot food (including relief provisions) from the population, sometimes with civilian casualties, recruit child soldiers, and commit rape.

The SPLA is further accused of failing to act decisively to calm ethnic tension in some parts of their territory. Despite church peacemaking efforts between the Didinga of Chukudum in Eastern Equatoria, and the Bor Dinka who dominated the SPLA garrison in Chukudum, hostilities continued. Sometime after the August 1999 cease-fire, the SPLA assigned commanders of local origin to the garrison, but the local population remained reluctant to return to their homes and fields because of the landmines that the SPLA promised to remove but did not. Even though SPLA leaders promised to stop their troops' looting, the confiscation of relief food from civilians by SPLA soldiers and officers continued.

The SPLA is also blamed for its half-hearted efforts to demobilise underage soldiers in its ranks. One SPLA commander, the report says, remobilised several hundred boys when UNICEF failed to provide promised school books and other supplies for the boys.

On the positive side, the report notes that last July, Khartoum issued visas to some political party leaders, advocates and activists to attend a convention in Kampala, Uganda, on the future of Sudan and human rights in transition.

The non-governmental press, the report notes, exercised more freedom despite arrests of journalists.

Charles Omondi

New French group to champion Sudan s cause

Touched by the plight and suffering of southern Sudanese, a group of French people in Paris have founded an organisation called "Comité Soudan" whose goals are to spread information and lobby politicians and their respective groups, institutions and the media.

Their idea is to collect direct information on the atrocities and suffering faced by those who have no choice but live in exile and want to testify to the world of their tragedy.

A delegation from the ground intends to come to Nairobi, Kenya, early next month to meet and film Sudanese refugees and record their testimonies. The idea, the group informed Sudan Catholic information Office (SCIO), is to do what US filmmaker

Stephen Spielberg did for the Jews: get as many testimonies as possible so that the world should know what has happened, or is happening, and keep a permanent record of the atrocities of the past and bear witness for the future generations.

Such documentation, the group believes, could come in hand in the event of those responsible for the human rights abuses being called upon to answer for their crimes before the International Court of Justice.

In the meantime, the documentaries by Comité Soudan will be presented and distributed among the various TV channels (and all the media in general) in France and in the West. They will also be broadcast on the "Comité Soudan" website now under construction for the world to see and learn about the situation.

Comité Soudan has an administrative board of about 10-12 people. All of them are in steady employment and their commitment to Sudan is strictly on a voluntary basis. Their meetings take place at weekends and in the evenings. The group chairman is Philippe Geller and he is expected in Nairobi in mid-February.

None of the group members has been to Sudan yet. Their initiative started with a gathering of a few people in Paris who came to learn about the genocide on the Nuba people, which has now been extended with the exploitation of the oilfields in the Bentiu area.

The French group may consider visiting Kakuma Refugee camp in northwestern Kenya, which is a home to about 85, 000 refugees, majority of whom are Sudanese.

In France, like in many parts of Western Europe, few people are aware of the situation of civil war in Sudan. Among those working to create awareness about Sudan in France is Fr. Hubert Barbier who once worked in Sudan. Besides other things, Fr Barbier has created a website on Sudan:

The editor

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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