SUDAN: IRIN News Briefs [19991006]

SUDAN: IRIN News Briefs [19991006]

SUDAN: IRIN News Briefs, 6 October 1999


Egypt-Libya agree new steps in peace initiative SPLM awaiting next round of IGAD talks Humanitarian mission to Nuba Mountains continues Problems of access to displaced people SPLM asks Mbeki's advice on "double apartheid" NDA to seek common framework for political dialogue Crackdown on rebels after oil pipeline attack President promises "special consideration" for south

Egypt-Libya agree new steps in peace initiative

Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa and Libya's special representative for Africa, former foreign minister Ali Tureiki they had agreed on steps to implement a joint peace initiative for peace in Sudan. Reuters said they told reporters after a meeting in Cairo at the weekend contacts were underway to prepare for dialogue and both sides in the Sudanese conflict should abstain from anything likely to obstruct the peace initiative and from hostile media campaigns against each other.

Moussa said a suitable atmosphere should prevail before a preparatory meeting in advance of an inter-Sudanese reconciliation conference could take place. That meeting was to have opened in Cairo last month but the SPLM refused to agree, saying it preferred to have mediation by the East African regional grouping, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), news agencies reported. Moussa said there was no time to waste in the effort to achieve peace in Sudan, whether through the Libyan-Egyptian initiative or the parallel IGAD process, and that he had contacted Kenya - currently president of IGAD - in order to coordinate the two sets of talks.

SPLM awaiting next round of IGAD talks

While an IGAD conference on regional capacity-building for conflict prevention began in Nairobi on Monday, the last Sudanese peace talks under the IGAD process broke down in July without a breakthrough. Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) spokesman Samson Kwaje told IRIN on Tuesday that he soon hoped to meet Daniel Mboya, Kenya's special envoy to the IGAD peace talks on Sudan - recently returned to Nairobi after discussions in Khartoum - to hear when the next round might take place.

Humanitarian mission to Nuba Mountains continues

Two humanitarian teams returned to Khartoum late last week after completing the first phase of an inter-agency assessment of humanitarian needs in the Nuba Mountains, South Kordofan State, a UN press release stated on Friday. The two-week mission - comprising representatives of the FAO, UNOCHA, UNDP, UNICEF, WFP, WHO and the NGOs: CARE and Save the Children Fund (UK) - visited several locations controlled by the SPLM in Heiban and Nogorban counties. Another is scheduled for Thursday, 7 October, to cover government-controlled areas of the Nuba Mountains. "The assessment will identify and quantify specific humanitarian needs in agriculture and food security, health and nutrition, water and sanitation, and basic education" as well as all aspects of logistical needs for humanitarian intervention in the area, a report by Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) stated. Both of these in-depth missions are to follow up the initial findings of a UN mission to the area in June, when the government consented to repeated appeals for access.

Problems of access to displaced people

In the southern state of Bahr el-Ghazal, humanitarian access to camps for internally-displaced people (IDPs) around Wau continued to be a problem. Negotiations between agencies and the Rehabilitation and Humanitarian Aid Commission (RHAC) for "free and unrestricted access to the IDP camps" were ongoing but, in addition, the presence of the pro-government Arab Murahaleen militia was creating tension among IDPs in the area, OLS reported. The problem of access to IDPs was also the main constraint on humanitarian operations in Kassala state, with agencies facing restrictions on travel authorisations. However, the border with Eritrea and the area leading to Harmshkorieb were also reportedly mined, making it difficult to reach IDPs trapped in the area, the report added.

SPLM asks Mbeki's advice on "double apartheid"

Meanwhile, SPLM leader John Garang said at the weekend, after talks in Johannesburg with South African President Thabo Mbeki, that if the Khartoum government and opposition groups did not reach an agreement soon, the country would collapse totally. "We are now living in a double apartheid era, based on race and religion. Our struggle is for liberation, basic human rights and equality for women," the South African Press Agency (SAPA) quoted him as saying.

Sources close to Mbeki said that, while South Africa had not taken any concrete steps in the peace process and it was primarily a Sudanese responsibility to resolve the country's problems, it was supporting efforts to "promote peace resolutions", SAPA reported. Sudan was expected to feature prominently on South Africa's foreign policy agenda once the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo was resolved, the report added.

NDA to seek common framework for political dialogue

Garang also said in South Africa on Saturday that the Sudanese opposition, under the umbrella National Democratic Alliance (NDA) which groups northern opposition parties and the SPLM based in the south, would meet in either Uganda or Egypt this month to come up with a common framework for any future negotiations with the government, news organisations reported. "We will be looking at our overall political strategy for our country. We will be putting together a policy for any negotiations with Khartoum. We will also review our military strategies," AP news agency quoted him as saying. Meanwhile, Reuters news agency on Monday reported key NDA member and Umma Party leader Sadeq al-Mahdi as having said - after talks with senior Egyptian officials in Cairo on Saturday - that the prospect for reconciliation talks had suffered an undisclosed setback.

Crackdown on rebels after oil pipeline attack

Prosecutor-General Abdel Nasr Wonan has formally asked Egypt to extradite NDA military chief Abdel Aziz Khalid - in addition to spokesman Abdel Rahman Said, whose extradition Sudan had previously requested - on terrorism charges related to the 19 September rebel bombing of Sudan's new oil pipeline near Atbara, responsibility for which was claimed by the NDA, the official SUNA news agency reported on Tuesday. Security forces were also reported to have searched the Sudanese homes of resident and exiled opposition Umma Party leaders in connection with the pipeline blast, including that of party leader and former prime minister al-Mahdi.

Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail also asked the international community during his address to the UN General Assembly last week to take punitive action against SPLM leader John Garang, similar to the sanctions against UNITA rebel leader Jonas Savimbi in Angola, in order to pressure him into "meaningful participation" in the peace process. He said Sudan was committed to a comprehensive ceasefire in all parts of southern Sudan "for humanitarian reasons and to prepare the atmosphere for peace talks", and hoped other parties would respond so that "the process of separation of the forces and monitoring of the ceasefire could begin", Sudanese national radio reported.

President promises "special consideration" for south

Meanwhile, President Omar el-Bashir told the National Assembly that the proceeds of oil exports would go towards building the country's infrastructure, "with special consideration for southern states and other war-affected areas", according to an address broadcast on national television on Monday. He said government policy would focus on electricity, irrigation, roads, capacity-building, scientific research and social programmes, with special attention to be devoted to the south and other war-affected areas.


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

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

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