UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
Sudan Update Vol.10 No.7 Date: 14 April 1999 *Journalists
killed on Hajj / Blue Nile oil threat / Bentiu-ICRC
/ Comprehensive cease-fire? / Dinka-Nuer covenant /
Lawyers arrested / French investors / Bin Laden's slaves?
/ SPLA gun-runners / Malakal diarrhoea / Killer "toy"
WOMEN / MEDIA
JOURNALISTS KILLED AND INJURED IN SAUDI: Two sisters working for Sudan TV, Layla and Huyam el Maghrabi, died in a car crash on the road from Mecca to Medina in Saudi Arabia on 29 March, after performing the Hajj pilgrimage. Layla, 46, who presented literary and artistic programmes, and Huyam, 42, a newsreader, had worked in Sudanese television since childhood. In Mecca on 25 March three reporters covering the Hajj for SUNA and national radio and TV were injured in an earlier car crash. Heavy traffic between the different shrines often causes disastrous accidents during the Hajj season.
FIRST WOMAN AMBASSADOR: President Bashir has appointed Zeinab Muhammad Mahmoud Abd al-Karim as the first Sudanese woman ambassador. The wife of the ambassador at the External Relations Ministry, Dr Omar Abd al-Majid, Zeinab was appointed as a second secretary at the ministry in 1977, and has worked in Paris, Doha and Cairo.
BLUE NILE / EAST SUDAN
KASSALA HIGHWAY ROBBERY: The Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) and northern opposition forces attacked areas in Kassala, Blue Nile and Upper Nile states during the Eid al-Adha religious holiday, Lt-Gen Muhammad Osman Yassin, the government armed forces spokesman, declared on 1 April. "The traitors and hirelings tried to seize buses and trucks at Aroma and Malawiya (near Kassala) and rob the belongings and properties of citizens," he said. No casualty figures were given. `Thirteen gunmen claiming to belong to the opposition stopped three buses near Kassala and robbed all the passengers before making off with two of the vehicles,' according to AFP, citing al-Wan. They seriously wounded a soldier who was among the passengers, and overturned the third bus, witnesses said. A joint military and police force tried to chase them. The towns - `on the Port Sudan highway, through which much of Sudan's trade passes' - are `deeper inside Sudanese territory than other recent rebel attacks in the east near Eritrea,' comments Reuter. (AFP / al-Wan 31/Mar/99, Reuter 1/Apr/99)
S.P.L.A LIFTS SIEGE IN SOUTHERN BLUE NILE: The SPLA reports that its 13th Division forces based in Ulu, Southern Blue Nile, under Commander Malik Agar have broken the siege of the strategic garrison town by Government of Sudan (GOS) army troops, in three days of intensive fighting. The town and its 50,000 inhabitants have been besieged since 6 January.
On March 27 `SPLA forces fought a decisive battle that resulted in the killing of 123 enemy soldiers around Ulu. An enemy convoy (code-named Maaz/Ibn Jebel) that was rushed to reinforce the siege was intercepted and annihilated, losing an additional 285 men and officers. The total number of GOS forces killed now stands at 405 and about 700 wounded...' `Among the dead were 16 officers. The highest ranking killed officers are identified as Lt-Col El Hadi Imam Mohammed and Maj Babiker Hassan Said of the Paratroopers and Tanks units. Enemy material losses ... include two T-55 tanks that have been destroyed, another two T-55 Tanks captured in good condition with their crew of eight. Hundreds of rifles, artillery pieces, machine guns, anti-tanks guns and good quantities of ammunition of various calibres have also been captured...
`The regime wanted to capture Ulu during the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha and present it as a victory gift to the Sudanese people. Another reason for the Government's futile Ulu campaign is the coming IGAD talks which it wants to attend from the position of strength.' `The third and main reason why the regime wanted to capture Ulu is its strategic position in regard to the oil fields in NE Upper Nile and the rich agricultural lands of Melut and Renk. With the SPLA in firm control of Ulu, the Khor Adar oil wells are now clearly within reach of SPLA artillery. `The enemy force was estimated as five Brigades of about 8,000 men. More than 50 percent of this force has been put out of action since January. Remnants of the Maaz/Ibn Jebel convoy ran in disarray, clearly disoriented and demoralised. The Minister of Defence was dispatched to Damazin on 27 March 1999 not only to reorganise the demoralised troops but to contain what appears to be a massive desertion of the NIF forces.' (SPLA Field Information Unit 30/Mar/99)
NEARING OIL FIELD: SPLA fighters are just a few kilometres from Adar-Yiel, the second-largest oil drilling site in Sudan, SPLA spokesman Yasser Arman told AP on 30 March. The SPLA is urging a Chinese and a Malaysian company to leave because fighting could spread. "Foreign companies should evacuate the area until a democratic government takes power and exploits the resources of our country for the interest of the Sudanese people."
GOVERNMENT CLAIMS VICTORY: Khartoum said the rebels were "desperate" to launch attacks in this area to halt exploration and production operations inside oil fields. "Heavy casualties were inflicted on the infiltrating elements who ended fleeing in disarray," the Sudan embassy in Nairobi said. (IRIN / SEB Mar/99)
SPLA CAPTURES TWO MORE GARRISON TOWNS: `SPLA 13th Infantry Division attacked and captured the enemy garrison towns of Samaa West and Adrob in Southern Blue Nile on 8 April 1999. The enemy suffered 128 men and officers killed and 300 others wounded. These casualties mean that more than half of the El Furgan Brigade has now been put out of action. The El Furgan Brigade had been hastily organised by the Defence Minister at Damazine and dispatched to reinforce the GOS forces that were annihilated in and around Ulu on 27 March 1999. El Furgan could not reach Ulu and were ordered to re-camp at Samaa West.*
`The SPLA captured in good condition the following, among others: one water tanker, one big transport truck, two land cruiser vehicles, a generator, two pieces of medium and long range radios, hundreds of rifles, machine guns and artillery pieces as well as all types of munitions in large quantities. `With the capture of Samaa West, renamed Mashka Harun by the NIF, the remnant of the El Furgan Brigade are now on the run towards the GOS held towns of Melkan and Damazine. Inside Melkan itself (18 miles from Ulu), the morale of the NIF forces is reported to have sharply fallen and the retreating soldiers are threatening mutiny or mass desertion. This has resulted in serious quarrel between the GOS army's overall commander in Damazine, Maj-Gen Mahgoub, and his field commanders, Brigs Maaz Abulgasim and El Jumry Ahmed Jumry.
`The SPLA will continue its thrust northwards to deter the NIF from launching any further attacks in Southern Blue Nile whose population is now enjoying peace and tranquillity and preparing to carry out rehabilitation and development programmes.' (SPLA/SPLM 11/Apr/99) *
I.C.R.C `APPALLED' AT ABDUCTEE DEATHS: Three Sudan government officials and a Sudanese Red Crescent worker who were abducted by the SPLA on 18 February at Pariang, near Bentiu, have been killed. `The circumstances of their deaths were not immediately clear,' says Reuter. [The government says they were executed; the SPLA says they died in crossfire in a raid intended to free them. Two Swiss International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delegates captured at the same time had been released earlier.] ICRC said it was `shocked and appalled at the news of the death of the four Sudanese nationals, and in particular that of a Red Crescent worker... Despite the public assurances of the SPLM/A that the Sudanese Red Crescent worker was free to leave, and indeed should have left together with the ICRC delegates, the SPLM/A kept him in custody. During the visit to Geneva of... Dr John Garang on 22 March, ICRC President Cornelio Sommaruga privately urged the SPLM/A to release the remaining persons without delay. He subsequently repeated this demand in public. `Whatever the exact circumstances, the SPLM/A cannot but be held accountable for their deaths. The ICRC demands a full inquiry to shed light on the events and the full cooperation of the SPLM/A in repatriating the four bodies to allow for a decent burial.' (ICRC #99/18, 1/Apr/99, Reuter 2/Apr/99)
S.P.L.A REPLIES ON PARIANG: `1. The National Islamic Front (NIF) regime continues to spread disinformation around the world that the four Sudanese nationals who were killed in crossfire in Pariang were all relief workers. This is not true. Only one of them, Mr John Garkoi, of the Sudanese Red Crescent was a relief worker despite his other security assignments. The other three were Government of Sudan (GOS) officials. `Abdu Mohammed Tia-Adam was the GOS administrator of Pariang area and chairman of the local security committee. Being a northern Sudanese, Tia-Adam should not have been the administrator of Pariang in Southern Sudan according to NIF's Khartoum Peace Agreement. His being in Pariang, on an "ICRC mission" which had not been cleared with SPLM/SRRA as the rules require, can only be for covert political and security reasons. `Mayik Chol Bil-kuei, who also goes by the name of Amir Abd al-Magid Mayik, is a traditional chief and head of GOS allied militia in the area. He was a former SPLA non-commissioned officer (NCO) who defected from SPLA in 1991. `The third person, Ismail Edaam Ibrahim is a GOS security officer on active duty and attached to an oil prospecting company in the Bentiu/Pariang area. These three persons are not therefore, ICRC personnel nor are they relief workers of any kind or description. We challenge ICRC to come clear on this count and categorically dissociate itself from GOS deceit about the status of the three persons.
`2. In 1996, five SPLA wounded soldiers under the care of the ICRC were abducted together with three foreign nationals by GOS forces and its allied militia. These five Sudanese were legitimately travelling in an ICRC plane after having been treated at the ICRC hospital at Lopiding, Kenya. They were on their way to be re-united with their families in Southern Sudan when they were abducted and remain un-accounted for to this day. The ICRC did not call for an investigation of the episode. Instead ICRC seemed satisfied with the "resolution of that episode" once the non-Sudanese were released on payment of ransom.
`The SPLM is appalled by these double standards. What is the difference between the lives of five Southern Sudanese in 1996 and four other Sudanese in 1999? Why has an independent investigation not been called for in the case of the late SPLA Commander Daoud Bolad who was captured in Darfur by GOS forces, shown on Omdurman Television and later tortured to death? Why has no independent investigation been called for in the case of two employees of USAID who died in GOS cells in Juba? `3. Exhuming and repatriating the bodies for "decent" re-burial is culturally offensive to say the least as it is incongruent to the situation of tens of thousands who have been killed by the NIF regime and who had no decent burial... The SPLM/A offered to release the two ICRC personnel and the two Sudanese Red Crescent staff but GOS refused to give flight clearance to ICRC for the evacuation, insisting that the GOS security personnel must be released along with the four.' (SPLA/SPLM 10/Apr/99) *
GOVERNMENT SUSPENDS CONTACTS: The government has frozen peace talks with the SPLA. State minister of social planning Gen Hassan Dhahawi said contacts would only be resumed after the Foreign Relations Committee had ruled on the `assassination of four Sudanese nationals working in the humanitarian aid field by the outlaws movement.' (dpa/ al-Rai al-Akhar 11/Apr/99) *
DINKA AND NUER SIGN PEACE COVENANT: The Dinka-Nuer West Bank Peace and Reconciliation Conference held in Bahr al-Ghazal `has resulted in a bold commitment for peace that could have national implications. The Conference, facilitated by the New Sudan Council of Churches, resulted in a peace agreement called the Wunlit Dinka-Nuer Covenant. The Covenant and its Resolutions were signed by more than 300 Dinka and Nuer chiefs, community and church leaders, women and youth. It boldly promises an end to seven and half years of conflict between the Dinka and Nuer people on the West Bank of the Nile and declares a permanent cease-fire with immediate effect. Amnesty is granted for offences prior to 1/1/99, freedom of movement across the lines of conflict is affirmed, and resolutions with far-reaching effects were adopted in a consensus style of decision making. `The Conference was opened with the sacrificing of a large White Bull, traditional spiritual leaders of both peoples calling for an end to the conflict, and the warning that any who violate this Covenant will go the way of the White Bull. Christian church leaders conducted daily prayers and the final Covenant was sealed both in Christian worship and in traditional sacrifice of another bull, dancing and festivities. `Resolutions addressed in detail issues such as: Missing persons and Marriages of Abductees: including the identification of people who are missing or were abducted, the issue of marriages, and the return of persons to their families and home areas; Reclaiming the Land and Rebuilding Relationships: including a provisional list of more than 400 villages and settlements that have been abandoned, an encouragement for people to move back home, and the development of shared activities between Dinka and Nuer such as schools, livestock markets, healthcare...
Institutional Arrangements and Monitoring the Border: *including police stations, border courts, appeal processes, radio stations to build communications across the borders, joint policing of the grazing and fishing areas during the dry season, and forming a Peace Council to implement the Resolutions.
Dealing with those Outside the Peace Process: including invitations to commanders who have continued to fight and must be brought into the peace process; and
Extending the Peace: including Dinka-Nuer peace on the East Bank of the Nile and spreading the peace to other Nilotic peoples, the peoples of Equatoria, and all the people of South Sudan.
The covenant concludes with an `appeal to the SPLM/A and the UDSF/SSDF to endorse, embrace and assist in implementation of this Covenant and its Resolutions.'
(NSCC Dinka-Nuer Press Release #4; http://members.tripod.com/~SudanInfonet/ , 13/Mar/99)
S.P.L.A ON "COMPREHENSIVE CEASE-FIRE": President Bashir called for a comprehensive cease-fire throughout Southern Sudan in an address to parliament on 5 April.
The SPLM/SPLA responded: `1. The declaration of a "comprehensive cease-fire" in one part of the war theatre only is meaningless in the Sudanese situation. SPLA forces are fighting in both Southern Sudan... and in Northern Sudan... Bashir in effect, is proposing that the NIF ceases fire with SPLA forces in the South and continues to fight the same SPLA in the North. This is not logical and at best is cynical... `2. Bashir's declaration [is] intended to kill the humanitarian cease-fire in Bahr al-Ghazal... Several high ranking officials of the GOS have many times stated that the regime will not renew the humanitarian cease-fire in Bahr al-Ghazal unless the SPLM/SPLA accepts a comprehensive one throughout Southern Sudan...
`The SPLM/SPLA Leadership [7/Apr/99] announced the extension of the humanitarian cease-fire in Bahr al-Ghazal for another three months from April 15. The SPLM/SPLA asks the international community to prevail on the NIF regime to reciprocate by extending the humanitarian cease-fire to Western and Central Upper Nile.
`3. A comprehensive cease-fire is part and parcel of the overall political solution to the war and will be discussed in the next round of IGAD Peace Talks (April 20-25).' (SPLM Nairobi 11/Apr/99) *
FAMINE THREAT POSED BY MILITIAS: Famine threatens to recur in Sudan in 1999, warns Human Rights Watch in a 200-page report, "Famine in Sudan, 1998: The Human Rights Causes". `The government's abusive tactics, and the predatory practices of rebel forces and government-sponsored tribal militia, have turned this famine into a disaster requiring the largest emergency relief operation in the world in 1998, and the largest airlift operation since the Berlin airlift. The government spends about one million dollars a day on the war, roughly the same amount the international community spent on relief at the height of the famine.'
"If the cease-fire is not extended, the disaster of last year will be repeated," said Jemera Rone, author of the report. "The tribal militias who looted and burned, and killed and captured so many civilians last year, are not obeying the cease-fire now. They are armed and backed by the government, and it must restrain them."
HRW `urges the warring parties to end looting and attacks on civilians, as well as the diversion of civilian relief aid...' It `asks that the international community actively support U.N. human rights monitors for Sudan, either inside the country or on its borders, who would be tasked to promptly inform the world of human rights abuses, especially those that might lead to another famine. Finally, the report calls on the government of Sudan to honor the promise it made to the U.N. Secretary-General in 1998, to provide humanitarian access to rebel areas of the Nuba Mountains.' (HRW 18/Mar/99
U.N `SHOULD SET BINDING REFERENDUM': The US Committee for Refugees (USCR) urges the UN Security Council to schedule a date for a binding public referendum on political self-determination for the 5 million people of southern Sudan.
"No side can win a clear military victory... Yet the war drags on, causing an average of 5,000 deaths per month... All sides have publicly stated that a referendum of political self-determination for the people of southern Sudan is an acceptable solution. So why wait? Schedule a referendum by the year 2001, and make it happen," said USCR director Roger Winter at a congressional briefing on 3 March. (USCR 3/Mar/99) *
LAW / HUMAN RIGHTS
LAWYERS ARRESTED: A court in Khartoum has sentenced lawyer Ghazi Suleiman to 15 days in prison and a fine of 5000 Dinars (US$250) for "disturbing public peace and order." The same court later set free eight other lawyers after finding them not guilty of disturbing public peace by trying to hold an unauthorised political debate.
Justice Mua'awya el Kinani of the Khartoum Central Criminal Court had then said he was separating Suleiman's case from that of the eight others. He did not give reasons, but said articles 169 (disturbing public peace) and 77 (disturbing public order) of the Sudan Penal Code did not apply to the eight defendants and "accordingly the court drops the case against them..." Suleiman had tried on Wednesday to hold a debate at the Lawyers Union in Khartoum on "the Role of the Lawyer in the Society." However, before he and 20 colleagues could get into the Union premises, riot police using batons and whips arrested them. (PANA 10/Apr/99) *
MUSLIMS ARRESTED FOR ASSAULTING CHURCH: Some 30 members of al-Da'awa wa tabligh, an Islamist group, have been arrested in Khartoum for gathering around an Orthodox church in Amarat district and abusing Christianity, SUNA reports. They have been charged with infringement of the freedom of faith and religious practice, the assistant director of the Khartoum state police, Brig Muhammad Abd al-Mageed, said. Investigators `are still trying to establish a motive.'
The head of the Orthodox Church, Fr Philothious Faraj, told Ghazi Suliman's human rights organisation that on Friday about 40 Muslims began verbal attacks against the church. They gathered again on Sunday and repeated the abuse, said the organisation's statement, published in al-Rai al-Akhar newspaper. (dpa / al-Rai al-Akhar / SUNA 26 Mar/99 *
MALAKAL DIARRHOEA DECREASING: Humanitarian agencies in the Malakal area have reported a decrease in the number of patients suffering from an outbreak of watery diarrhoea and vomiting that has killed some 213 people over the past month. Over 2,700 cases had been recorded. "Daily admissions have come down to between 30-80 from 150-200 patients last week," UNICEF's emergency information officer in Khartoum, Shima Islam, said. "The mortality rate has also gone down to an estimated 0-6 per day in comparison to over 15 a day last week."
The outbreak had spread to four of the eight provinces in Upper Nile - Tonga, Paliet, Melut and Fashoda. WHO and UNICEF have sent in testing kits and medicine. Specimens collected from Padak and cultured by AMREF strongly pointed to cholera; results are expected shortly. In the meantime, preventative measures are being taken. (OLS 15-21/Mar/99, IRIN 2/Apr/99) **
CHILD SLAVES FOR BIN LADEN'S DRUG FARMS: Ugandan Lord's Resistance Army rebels have supplied abducted children for Usama bin Laden, reports the Sunday Telegraph on 28 March. LRA rebels have abducted at least 8,000 children from northern Uganda since 1994. Brig Katumba Wamala, commander of the Ugandan forces, said: "Bin Laden is the main buyer... He has very big marijuana farms in Sudan and he buys the children as slave labourers." `"We have the testimony of [escaped] abducted children and we also have intercepted radio conversations," said Brig Wamala. Radio intercepts show that bin Laden pays one Kalashnikov assault rifle for every child he buys. Joseph Kony, the LRA leader, is in desperate need of weapons... `"Kony was complaining about the exchange rate. Once the Arabs gave him 98 guns for the 100 children he had given them. He complained very bitterly," said Brig Wamala.
`Children are forced to march to Jabelin, the LRA's headquarters 34 miles S of Juba. Many of the girls are taken to Nsitu camp, 15 miles S of Juba. Once sold, the children are taken to Juba airport... Nsitu is less than 200 yards from a Sudanese army base. Within... Jabelin camp, Sudanese government troops are housed alongside LRA rebels.' A Ugandan intelligence source says bin Laden "has a wide range of business interests [in Sudan] ... These are used to fund terrorism in Africa and elsewhere."
`The marijuana farms ... are located in the Nile Valley, north of Khartoum. In the same area, he has several large sunflower plantations, where slave labour may also be used...' (Sunday Telegraph 28/Mar/99) *
S.P.L.A SOLDIERS SELLING GUNS: The Ugandan army has detained 104 SPLA soldiers who were recently found selling guns in northern Uganda, the Monitor newspaper reports. Brig Wamala Katumba, the army commander in northern Uganda, said the SPLA rebels were arrested in Kitgum district where they had offered some 90 guns for sale: "They are a stubborn lot. We shall eventually take them back because we cannot charge them within the Ugandan law." Civilians in the border areas have complained to local government officials that the SPLA regularly stole crops and threatened villagers. (AFP 30/Mar/99) *
BOMB BLAST KILLS FOUR IN SINGA: A bomb which was mistaken for a toy killed four members of a family and injured three in the village of Nurania, 40km S of Singa in central Sudan, al-Rai al-Akhar newspaper reported. A woman found the device on the road and took it home. The device exploded as the children were playing with it. (dpa 10/Apr/99) *
POLICE SEIZE WEAPONS CACHE AT UNIVERSITY: Police have seized weapons from Khartoum University dormitories, and four students have been arrested, the pro-government al-Wan newspaper reports. It said police took `large amounts of knives, bombs, Molotov cocktails, iron rods and pistols'. Materials and computers belonging to political groups were also taken and four students belonging to the African National Front (ANF) were arrested and charged with possession of arms. The ANF consists of southern Sudanese students allied with anti-government students, who have clashed with those supporting the government. (Reuter 1/Apr/99) *
PIPELINE THREAT: On March 19, SUNA reported that the 1,610 km oil pipeline had been completed. Linking the Hejlij oilfield in Southern Kordofan with the Red Sea terminal at Basha'ir, via an oil refinery being built at al-Jayli, 70km N of Khartoum, the 28-inch pipeline should carry 150,000 barrels of crude per day, notes ANS.
The Jayli refinery, due to become operational at the end of December 1999, will have an annual capacity of 2.5m tonnes. `Chinese, Malaysian, Argentine, Canadian, British and German companies are putting up the bulk of the finance for the $1.6bn scheme, to be paid back over 10 years. `During that time Sudan's revenue from oil exports will be slim, but being able to meet its domestic fuel needs it will save itself between $250 million and $350m annually on imports.
`Khartoum desperately needs such savings to finance the civil war. Jane's Defence Weekly of February 10 quoted President Bashir as saying that the war was costing the government half of its annual budget, estimated to total $1.9 billion.'
President Bashir's chief consideration will now be to ensure an uninterrupted flow of oil by protecting the pipeline from rebel attacks - very hard to do considering its length and the fact that it traverses territory under threat from rebels.
`In June 1998 the SPLA reported that they had captured the town of Ulu, about 150 km SW of Damazin. Indian Ocean Newsletter of 23 May 1998 quoted SPLA sources as saying they intended to hold their fire until the installation at Hejlij oilfield and the laying of the pipeline was well under way, thereby to wreak maximal damage both materially and morally when the time came. The time may now have arrived...'
(Africa News Service 1/Apr/99)
FRENCH ELECTRIC INVESTORS: Sudan's state Minister for Energy and Mining, John Dor Majok, has welcomed a delegation of French investors interested in electricity generation and distribution. He stressed that Sudan was ready to receive investment in its resources, particularly oil. The investment atmosphere in Sudan was one of the best in Africa, `contrary to what was being disseminated by hostile media abroad,' he said. For its part, `The delegation has stressed that the stability of the situation in the Sudan was one of the most encouraging incentives in a country rich with its resources,' says SUNA. The Minister provided the French delegation with the projects and programmes of the National Electricity Corporation so that joint plans could be agreed upon. The same delegation had earlier signed agreements with the Corporation on the training of workers and the rehabilitation of electricity stations. (SUNA 11/Apr/99)
SUDAN UPDATE is an international media review, published twice monthly to promote dialogue and education about Sudanese current affairs. It records news and comment from a broad variety of published sources, and presents a cross-section of views which are often contradictory. No claim is made for the accuracy of individual items. They do not represent the views of the editorial group, and readers should always refer to the original sources for complete versions.
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