15 December 1996 - 20 January 1997
Relations between Sudan and neighbours Eritrea and Ethiopia have rapidly deteriorated over the past month, amid claims by Khartoum that its neighbours are backing the increasingly active rebels and are being manipulated by the United States. Since the end of December, the eastern side of Sudan, bordering Ethiopia and Eritrea, has been wracked by clashes between government forces and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), which brings together south Sudanese rebels and Sudanese opposition from the north.
The situation remains tense, although on 15 January
Ethiopia denied that its forces had aided the Sudanese
opposition in an cross-border offensive against the
Islamic leadership in Khartoum. At the same time a
letter was addressed to the UN Security Council by
the Ethiopia Ministry of Foreign Affairs, warning Sudan
that Ethiopia would remain vigilant to exercise its
"right to self-defence against a regime which
the Security Council knew had become a menace to the
peace and stability of the whole region." Ethiopia
further accused Sudan of destabilising its neighbours,
and has condemed a call by the Sudanese envoy in Mogadishu
Ali Hassan Ali urging Somalis to wage a "jihad"
Khartoum in turn has accused both Ethiopia and Eritrea of sending troops into Sudan to aid the rebel offensive. On 16 January the Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir said a "decisive battle" could take place with Ethiopia as convoys of lorries carrying Sudanese government reinforcements and supplies headed off to the border, adding his voice to the government's campaign for "jihad" against Ethiopia. This statement follows an earlier, contradictory announcement by Al Bashir that "Sudan is keen to improve ties with Ethiopia", and does not support groups opposed to the Ethiopian government. Although ties between the two countries have not yet been broken off, they have been seriously fractured since Ethiopia accused Sudan of backing an attempt on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's life in June 1995 in Addis Ababa.The Eritrean government, which has already broken relations with Sudan, has also denied any involvement in the fighting.
(Agence France Presse, Addis Ababa & Nairobi, 15-17 January & The Monitor, Addis Ababa, 16 January)
The Government of Sudan confirmed, at the end of December,
that the main rebel group, the Sudan Peoples Liberation
Army and other armed opposition forces had been attacking
the north-eastern parts of the country since the first
week of December. A report by BBC report quoted the
Prime Minister Minister Al Turabi as acceding to the
fact that fighting has been going on in the Kassala
region near the Eritrean border for some time. This
statement comes shortly after the announcement by rebel
representatives in Asmara that their operations have
been extended and cover five fronts in Sudan.
(The Monitor, Addis Ababa, 31 December & Agence France Press, Asmara, 13 January)
In mid-January, an alliance of Sudanese rebels said their forces were fast advancing on the southern Blue Nile city of Damazin where a hydro-electric station supplies the Sudanese capital Khartoum with most of its power. The rebels soon after announced their take over of two border towns south-east of Damazin as well as an army garrison near the eastern town of Kassala. At the same time, in Cairo the opposition National Democratic Alliance called for a popular uprising and army mutiny to overthrow the Islamist government that took power through a military coup in 1989.
The rebels claim to have already seized the two of towns
Kurmuk and Qeissan, about 600 km (370 miles) southeast
of Khartoum on the border with Ethiopia. The conflict
has also caused more than 5,000 Sudanese (comprised
of Udux and other clans from the southern regions)
to flee into western Ethiopia over the past two months,
seeking refuge and assistance. Although the influx
is slowly decreasing, a steady move of about 70 people
a day has continued in the third week of January.
(Reuter, Cairo & Asmara, 15 January)
Khartoum University was closed on 14 January so that
students can join the forces and go to eastern Sudan
to counter what Sudan claimed were Ethiopian attacks
at the border. The state radio quoted a university
official as saying classes had been suspended "to
allow students to join popular defence forces on their
way to eastern Sudan to fight the Ethiopian aggression."
The statement does not stipulate how many students
have joined, although sources say that some members
of the public have responded to the government call
(Reuter, Khartoum, 14 January & The Monitor, Addis Ababa, 16 January)
Exiled Sudanese opposition leaders, former Prime Minister Sadeq Al Mahdi, and Mohamed Osman Al Mirghani, met in Cairo on 2 January to discuss the current situation in their country. Sadeq Al Mahdi fled Sudan in mid-December and has since travelled to the Ethiopian capital before moving onto Egypt for talks with both Egyptian officials and other Sudanese opposition leaders.
(The Monitor, Addis Ababa, 2 January & The Reporter, Addis Ababa, 1 January)
The Security Council discussed a Sudanese allegation
of aggression by Ethiopia during
closed-door consultations on 15 January, but took no immediate action pending further information. The Security Council is expected to again meet on 22 January to consider putting into effect the ban on external flights by Sudan Airways
(Reuters, United Nations, 15 January & Agence France Presse, 13 January)
Iran's interest in the Indian Ocean region has been confirmed with the International Conference on the Indian Ocean community, held in Teheran in mid-November 1996. The report issued at the end of the conference shows the keen interest expressed by Iran in involvement in future cooperation in this region, with the Iranian minister of post, telegraph and telephone pointing out that the "western military capacity for continued presence in the Indian Ocean has diminished as compared with the past, mainly due to economic reasons", stressing that a "new definition of security in this region is taking place."
The Teheran Conference, which was opened by head of
state, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, has been followed
by several comments from delegates of the Asian countries
participating in the meeting, placing further emphasis
on the increasing role and interest of Iran as an active
participant and as "one of the driving forces
in the movement towards reaching such a (Indian Ocean)
(Indian Ocean Newsletter, 21 December 1996)
An international peace seminar jointly organised by
the Organisation of African Unity and the International
Peace Academy (with support from the Government of
Denmark) was held in Addis Ababa 15-20 December 1996.
The seminar, attended by representatives from the OAU,
United Nations, Non-governmental Organisations and
the donor and diplomatic community, was convened to
review the recent developments in peacekeeping and
enforcement in the continent, the OAU mechanism for
Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution and
also peace activities at the sub-regional level.
(The Ethiopian Herald, Addis Ababa, 21 December)
The Societe de Telecommunications Internationale de
Djibouti has followed up the introduction of the Internet
to Djibouti in the spring of 1996 by launching a cellular
network system in the country. Ethoipia has also started
Internet services since early January 1997 joining
Djibouti, Kenya and Uganda as the latest country in
the IGAD sub-region with access to the information
(Indian Ocean Newsletter, 21 December 1996 and The Ethiopian Herald, 31 December)
A conference for the promotion of investment in Eritrea organised by the World Bank on 10 December provided the background for reassurances by the Eritrean President, Issayas Afeworki, that the privatisation programme is on track and would be completed by the end of 1997. Speaking on several sectors of the Eritrean economy including mining, oil, natural gas and energy, Afeworki was generally positive on the move of Eritrea towards a market economy and, while recognising a deficit in the energy sector (electrical energy), launched an appeal for increased private investment in the exploration of oil and natural gas and encouraged investments in geothermal and solar energy projects.
The Eritrean President has also indicated that his government
is planning to authorise the creation of private financial
institutions and, in the longer term, becoming a "competitive
financial centre in the region."
(Indian Ocean Newsletter, 21 December)
The Consultative Group meeting for Ethiopia, convened for the first time in Addis Ababa in mid-December, ended with the pledge of US$ 2.5 billion over the next three years in support of the government's efforts for development and poverty reduction. Statements issued by the donor community were generally congratulatory, commending Ethiopia on its recent macroeconomic performance and the move towards a market economy, expressing hope that such a trend would be sustained.
The CG participants also urged the government to move
more aggresively on legal and administrative reforms
and underlined the crucial role of the private sector
in Ethiopia's development process.
(Entrepreneur, 18 December & World Bank Press Release, December 1996)
The Ethiopian Ministry of Defence announced in late
December that military forces had wounded and killed
more than one hundred terrorists crossing into Ethiopia
in the proximity of Dollo town (Ethiopian Somali Region).
A later statement issued by Somali faction leader Ali
Madi Mohamed has also condemned Al Itihad, accusing
it of provocative action in Ethiopian territory and
supporting measures taken by the Ethiopian Defence
Force in south-western Somali Region.
(Seven Day Update, Addis Ababa, 31 December & The Ethiopian herald, Addis Ababa, 21 January)
The United States Ambassador to Ethiopia, David Shinn
has expressed disappointment at the low level of American
investment in Ethiopia, despite a significant growth
in the number of American companies represented in
(Press Digest, Addis Ababa, 2 January)
The Ethiopian Somali Democratic League (ESDL) and the
Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) have agreed
to convene a Somali National Congress with the objective
of forming a unified "democratic organisation
that would assume the mandate of (providing) political
guidance" and work towards achieving the political,
economic and social goals of the Ethiopian Somali Region.
Speaking on behalf of the two organisations, Dr. Abdul
Mejid Hussein, the Ethiopian Minister of Transport
and Communication, said that the SNC is the culminating
point to many months of work towards achievement of
a democratic political forum that would "best
serve the interests of the people of the Somali Region."
(The Monitor, Addis Ababa, 16 January & The Ethiopian Herald, 12 Janaury)
Police have reported two disturbances during religious
ceremonies in Addis Ababa on 5-12 January. The first
incident was a serious shooting at the St. Estifanos
Church in central Addis Ababa in which an Ethiopian
Orthodox church member was killed while trying to deliver
a petition to the Partiarch of the Church. Following
the second incident on 12 January, several heads of
church issued a statement condemning the incidents
as attempts on the life of the Patriarch, requesting
the government to investigate the incidents and their
(AddisTibune, Addis Ababa, 17 January)
A new publication, entitled "Kenya Shadow Justice,"
issued by the London-based group Africa Rights has
dubbed justice in Kenya as a growth industry attracting
unprecedented support and interest from the international
community in 1996 but not delivering in the context
of the normal citizen. The publication debates the
legal reforms in the country based on the experiences
of the people and their testimonies, documentary evidence
and time spent in the courts. The book has attracted
much attention and comments from both the media and
the Kenyan Government in the past month.
A large-scale pilot programme to test the effectiveness
of a new malaria treatment drug is expected to be launched
in Kenya by mid-1997. Under this programme several
hundred thousand Kenyans afflicted with malaria who
have not responded to other forms of medication will
receive free treatment with the new drug, Malarone.
(The East African, 15 December)
A joint communique issued by Somali clan elders meeting in Sodere, Ethiopia, has declared the establishment of a National Salvation Council, outlining a five-point plan of action to expedite the peace process in the war torn country. The meeting, which took place over a number of weeks and was fully supported by the Ethiopian government, was attended by a total of 26 Somali political factions. The NSC will be co-chaired by Ali Mahdi Mohamed, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, Abdulkadir Mohamed Aden, Osman Hassan Ali "Atto" and Aden Abdullahi Nur. The Committee is expected to start work on laying the groundwork for the formation of a Transitional Central Authority or Provisional Central Government in Somalia. Another major outcome of the high level consultations is the agreement to convene a National Reconciliation Conference in Bosaso, Somalia to approve a Transitional National Charter.
Hussein Aideed, who did not attend the meeting in Sodere,
has reportedly denounced the NSC and, in turn, accused
Mahdi of receiving arms from Ethiopia. Also absent
from the meeting was Ibrahim Egal, president of the
breakaway Republic of Somaliland (North-west Somalia).
Ethiopia, on the other hand, has pledged to ensure
that the agreement reached on the National Salvation
Council would achieve its objectives. The initiative
has also won the support of both IGAD and the OAU,
whose representatives also participated in the meeting.
(Seven Day Update, Addis Ababa, 13 January & The Ethiopian Herald, 11 January)
While some pessimism remains about the Somali peace talks in Ethiopia - and sporadic fighting in Mogadishu has continued in December and into early January 1997 - an initiative launched by the European Union is examining the position of the Somali state in the event that the fighting stops. The EU initiative follows earlier workshops organised in Nairobi in 1996, bringing together various Somali clan leaders. A team of British researchers has also presented different constitutional blue-prints to Somali elders, putting forth four options for debate across Somalia:
the establishment of a federation;
a confederation between Somalia and Somaliland;
a decentralised state; and
a power-sharing arrangement.
Both the EU and the British team, however, have stressed
that they are not offering a solution but providing
"technical information" on the form that
the new state may take.
(Africa Analysis, 13 December 1996)
Following a meeting mediated by the Italian envoy, Giuseppe
Cassini, rival Somali clan leaders Ali Mahdi Mohamed
and Hussein Aideed have reportedly reached an agreement
to abolish the "greenline" border dividing
Mogadishu into North (controlled by Ali Mahdi) and
South (occupied by forces loyal to Aideed) sectors.
(Agence France Presse, Mogadishu, 16 January)
According to the private Ethiopian weekly Tomar, a representative
of the Al Itihad Al Islamiya in Mogadishu has called
supporters to mobilise for "jihad" against
Ethiopia. Al Itihad claims that over 5,000 men have
already registered to join the "jihad" against
Ethiopia, a move they have said is also supported by
the Muslim clerics in Mogadishu.
Other sources in Mogadishu have also reported that Muslim fundamentalists have been moving around the capital since the beginning of the month, urging people to volunteer to the front in the name of Islam.
(Seven Day Update, Addis Ababa, 13 January & The Reporter, Addis Ababa, 1 January)
A recent statement issued by journalists based in Somalia
has protested against the general assault and harasment
of journalists based in Mogadishu. Although no faction
has assumed responsibility for the assaults, which
mostly occur in areas controlled by Mohamed Aideed,
the attacks are undertaken by gunmen who claim to be
opposing false media reports on the security situation
(International Freedom of Expression - RSF/IFEX, 15 January)
President Omar Al Bashir has expressed support for the
call by Sudanese Minister of Finance for the cancellation
of tax and custom duty exemptions for all commercial
activities of humanitarian and non-governmental organisations
operating in Sudan. In this regard, a provisional order
was declared by Al Bashir cancelling all exemptions
pending a final decision by Parliament. Members of
the Parliament, who were requested to endorse the tax
exemptions with immediate effect, have, however, voted
to postpone a decision for three months.
(The Ethiopian Herald, Addis Ababa, 25 December)
Concerns over growing insecurity in northern Bahr el Ghazal and its effects on relief operation in the area were the focus of UN and NGO discussions at a meeting scheduled to take place in Nairobi in January.
(Operation Lifeline Sudan, 31 December)
Sudanese authorities have arrested 12 senior members of the opposition Umma Party in early January. Seven were arrested on January 4 and another five were detained "after the all-out attack launched by the joint command of the National Democratic Alliance (which groups the northern opposition and southern rebels)."
Following an unexpected visit to Cairo by the Sudanese
Vice President, Mohamed Saleh, and subsequent meetings
with President Mubarak on the subject of rebel movements
in Sudan, Egypt has announced its refusal to support
Khartoum Goverment in attacks against rebel forces.
Mubarak also seriously criticised the contradictory
behaviour of the Sudanese leaders and their public
position on Egypt, clearly indicating that Egypt is
not ready to intervene in the internal matters of the
other country. The Egyptian president has also been
quoted as saying that his country is convinced that
Sudan's allegations of attacks by Ethiopia and Eritrea
are not true, specifically stating that Egypt is convinced
"no one has entered Sudanese territory."
(The Ethiopia Herald, Addis Ababa, 21 January)
A new round of talks between Uganda and Sudan, scheduled
to take place in December, was postponed to January
1997. Meanwhile, the Ugandan government has denied
reports that it is positioning troops on its northern
border to prepare for an offensive on Sudan, but continues
to accuse Khartoum of harbouring expansionist ambitions
and using them a ploy for attacks against Uganda.
(Indian Ocean Newsletter, 21 December; Agence France Presse 16 January)
Ugandan rebels based in Zaire claim to have killed a
total of 501 Ugandan soldiers since the beginning of
their assaults in November 1996. A statement released
by the rebels has accused the Ugandan government of
inflating rebel casualty figures so far, which they
place at no more than 90. Ugandan military sources
have denied the rebel claims.
(Agence France Presse, 14 January)
A bulletin issued by the Ugandan government on 16 January
has instructed all political and public officials to
declare their official holdings by the end of the month
or risk disciplinary action. The order is in response
to public concern over allegations of corruption and
malpractice among medium and high ranking government
officials. The bulleting comes shortly after the strong
statement to the press by Ugandan Speaker of Parliament,
Jatham Tumwesige, that any leader who falsely declares
his or her assets would be breaching the leadership
Statute Code of 1992, and would be punishable by law.
(Agence France Presse, 17 January - IRIN, Nairobi, 20 January - The New Vision, 4 January)
A large number of people living in the north of Kitgum
district (northern Uganda and 15 kms from the Sudan
border) have been killed and thousands displaced from
their homes following attacks by the Lords Resistance
Army. Local authorities estimate that since mid-January
over 10,000 displaced people have been living in Kitgum,
and there are 10,000 more people scattered between
Palabek and the area between Lokung and Padibe. In
Kitgum, patients suffering severe wounds are being
supported by aid agencies. Recent attacks by the LRA
have initiated speculation as to whether the rebels
are deliberately targeting Kitgum with the objective
of gaining control over the northern parts of the district.
(IRIN, Nairobi, 20 January & UN sources in Kampala)
Senior Ugandan army officials appearing before the parliamentary
Committee of Defence and Internal Affairs have accused
Uganda's neighbours of supplying arms to attacking
rebels and providing them sanctuary. These charges
came in the face of accusations from within the Ugandan
army and the continuation of the civil war perpetrated
by the Lord's Resistance Army in the north of the country.
Unofficial reports of junior officers avoiding enlistment,
and the refusal of a number of NGOs to operate in the
so-called "protected villages," have caused
much concern among the government and resulted in accusations
by the Parliament on the inability of the military
to support the civilians in areas threatened by rebel
forces. Meanwhile, attacks by supporters of the LRA
continue in the northern areas of the country.
(The East African, 15 December)
Over 3.7 million children were immunised against polio
in December 1996 at the start of the Ugandan polio
eradication campaign. A statement by the Ugandan Ministry
of information has already placed this coverage level
as "impressively high", even in areas with
(The New Vision, 4 January)
The Ugandan government is to set up a regulatory body
for the private generation of electricity once the
sector has been liberalised. The body, which will in
effect by similar to the Uganda Coffee Development
Authority, would regulate the activities of private
investors in the electricity sector.
(The East African, 29 December)
A new rebel movement in Uganda, the Uganda May Salvation
Movement - 96 (UMSM-96) has given President Museveni
a one month ultimatum to end his "dictatorship"
or be removed in a nation-wide uprising by the rebel
group. According to a statement issued by the UMSM
in mid-December 1996, the move would be "assisted
by the armed forces."
(The Monitor, Kampala, 4 January)
From: UNDP__EUE_at_UNECA@un.org Date: Tue, 28 Jan 97 08:41:08 EST Message-Id: <9700288544.AA854454003@mail-out.un.org> Subject: New reports by the UNDP Emergencies Unit for Ethiopia