SUDAN: IRIN News Briefs [19990525]

SUDAN: IRIN News Briefs [19990525]

SUDAN: IRIN News Briefs, 25 May

Christians claim victimisation after schools, churches demolished

The authorities in Khartoum last week demolished two Christian church buildings and two schools at Hayy Barakah, a suburb of Khartoum, in what displaced southern Christians claim is religious victimisation, the BBC reported. The two schools owned by Episcopal Church of Sudan (ECS) and the Presbyterian Church, had a combined roll of 1,440 students. Four other Catholic schools in the area, with a roll of about 2,500 pupils, were also served with a final notice of demolition on 27 April, the BBC said.

The ministry of engineering affairs in Khartoum State has acknowledged that it ordered the destruction of the two schools and two churches, arguing that they were situated in an unplanned area. The displaced southern Sudanese in Khartoum - about two million in number - claim they are routinely denied the official permits required to build schools and churches, and say the state provides no alternative to the community's Christian schools, the BBC reported.

Touring the sites, Bishop Rorech of the ECS - a ranking official in the foreign ministry - told the BBC he knew there was religious persecution in the country, and said he and other church leaders would meet the authorities, including President Omar al-Bashir and Speaker of Parliament Hassan al-Turabi, in the next few days to protest against the demolitions.

Former president Nimeiri returns to Sudan

Sudanese police were out in force on Saturday as former president Jaafar al-Nimeiri landed in Khartoum after a 14-year exile in Egypt amid threats of protest demonstrations by the opposition, news organisations reported. Presidential Affairs Minister Bakri Hassan Salih led the government welcoming party. Nimeiri was later met by President al-Bashir who hoped his return would "support the process of construction and development".

Nimeiri said he was not returning as a ruler or a power seeker, indicating that he would work through his newly-registered Coalition of People's Working Forces to realise "freedoms and equality". He called on all the national political forces in and outside the Sudan to "do away with disunity and conflict and work for realising national accord".

On Sunday, the opposition umbrella group National Democratic Alliance (NDA) said it had set up a committee to follow up on bringing charges against Nimeiri for alleged "massacres and assassinations". Nimeiri, the first opposition leader to accept al-Bashir's invitation to return, has been given a presidential amnesty from prosecution.

Army claims to have "secured" Unity state

The Sudanese army and allied militias have said they destroyed a number of camps belonging to the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) in the southern state of Unity and "secured the oil area". They also claimed to have damaged Nhial Boi airport in the state, denying the SPLA supplies "from foreign organisations", and freed four Sudanese and one Chinese oil workers kidnapped by the rebels, according to media sources in Khartoum.


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Copyright (c) UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 1999

Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D

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