Issue No 14 31 October 1995
'Sudan News & Views' is an independent electronic Newsletter working to advocate peace, human rights and humanitarian aid for the Sudan.

Editor: Dr. Yasin Miheisi

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In this issue:


The SPLA (Sudan People's Liberation Army), had mounted its largest attack on government forces on October 25. The SPLA statement said its forces attacked and captured the town of Parajok, dislodging two army brigades and some 3,000 government soldiers killed, wounded or fled. The SPLA forces advanced 80km north, driving the government army out of the villages of Magwe, Obo, Palotaka and Awin Kabul. The SPLA captured 5 T-55 tanks, 20 military vehicles, 12 rocket launchers and a large quantity of weapons and ammunition.
This is the most significant military advance for the SPLA in four years. Severe fighting is still been reported in the area.
A statement by the Sudanese army General Command accused neighbouring Uganda of carrying out the attack. The Sudanese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ali Osman Taha, told a news conference in Khartoum that his government consider this act as a direct aggression and open military invasion of Sudan. Taha said Uganda must be behind the fighting because the SPLA could not launch that kind of offensive by itself.


When the army officers of the 'Salvation Revolution' overthrew the democratically-elected civilian government in June 1989, they said they wanted to stop the deterioration of the Sudanese currency and to prevent the exchange rate from reaching 20 SP (Sudanese Pounds) to the dollar. At that time, the official rate was 4.5 SP/$ and the black-market rate was $1=12 SP On October 7, 1991 the government announced its first devaluation and the exchange rate became 15.15 SP to one dollar. This was followed by another devaluation on February 3, 1992 to bring the rate to 90.9 SP/$.
On October 23, the government announced the liberalization of the economy and allowed commercial banks to set the exchange rate provided that the central bank 'Bank of Sudan' declared its bench mark. On the same day it was announced that the new exchange rate is to be 215 SP/$. The rate kept falling until it reached 418 SP/$ by December 31,1994.
Despite government's claims of remarkable growth in the economy and self-sufficiency in agriculture, textiles and sugar, the exchange rate continued to deteriorate exponentially until it reached 800 for the official rate of Bank of Sudan and 860 on the open market at the end of September 1995. As a result, prices of essential commodities, such as bread, wheat, sugar and fuel rose sharply in recent weeks. An official report said the inflation rate was 60.7% in September, up from 58% in August. In an attempt to reduce inflation, the government had reduced the money supply in circulation, which had reached 160 billion SP, compared to only 9 billion in 1989.
The Sudanese Pound sharp deterioration in the last 6 years is an indication of the economy's serious deterioration. The table below compares the prices of some commodities in May 1989 and September 1995.
The recent runaway devaluation, was blamed by many, including the government's own Labour Union, on the recently-licensed private foreign exchange bureaux. The Union called for the exchanges to be closed down. But the State Minister of Finance, Abdel Wahab Hamza, announced after meeting with the private owners of the exchange bureaux, that his Ministry will closely supervise the operations of these exchanges to improve their performance. He declared that the government will not go back on its policy and described the private exchanges as 'one of the pillars of the national economy, which could help resolve the country's economic problems'. He said his Ministry instructed all government departments and public corporations to refrain from buying their requirements of foreign currency from the private exchanges and to withdraw the applications they had made for this purpose.
According to economists and businessmen, the main reason for the deterioration in the rate is government's purchases from the black market, since it has lost most of its usual hard currency resources, which are exports, expatriates remittances and foreign aid.
It is believed that the main source for financing the government, including the war in the south, are the compulsory remittances imposed on Sudanese expatriates working in the Gulf countries and Europe, which decreased sharply in recent years due to the build-up of mistrust of the government's unpredictable policies. Only last week, the government has frozen the hard currency accounts of 43 individuals in various commercial banks, and threatened to freeze more accounts.
Although government predictions for expatriates remittances last year were about $400 million, only $198m materialized. A large part of the savings of the expatriates are channeled to banks in Britain and Egypt.
In an attempt to by-pass the economic difficulties, the government embarked on the privatization of the public sector, but doubts and suspicions that shrouded the privatization process did not help achieve the objectives. The 1993/94 budget estimated a revenue of 6 billion Sudanese Pounds from the privatization process, but only 560 millions were realized detailed as follows:
320 millions from the sale of the Commercial Bank.
7 million from the sale of two sweets factories (Rayya and Krikab).
27 million an installment from the sale of the Red Sea Hotel in Port Sudan
150 million as one installment from the sale of Sudan Mining Corporation
55 million the local equivalent for the sale of White Nile Foundry.
A confidential report prepared by the Attorney General says that while the treasury was expected to gain 9 million dollars from the sale of 'Bata Shoes Company' and the 'Blue Nile Packaging Company', the deal was considered to be the repayment of government debt to the Sudanese African Investment Company, owned by Saudi businessmen. The report added 'We do not know how and when the government borrowed the money?"
Another example cited for mismanagement, and maybe corruption, is the involvement of the Bank of Sudan in commercial activities, although its own regulations prevent it from doing so. The Bank entered in speculative dealing with Islamic banks to the tune of 2.5 Billion Sudanese Pounds. At the end of the period, the Islamic banks announced that the speculative venture was a confirmed loss and, according to the agreement the owner of the capital -Bank of Sudan- shouldered all the losses.
Recently the government, in a bid to cover its expenses, started pressuring businessmen to donate large sums of money. A Sudanese businessman told he was forced to pay what he described as 'compulsory donation' in order to avoid troubles with his business. President Omer al-Bashir told business leaders on October 19, that 'Sudan is in a bad deteriorating situation and faces stifling conditions because financial resources are low'. He urged them to give urgent donations to support the state treasury.
The Sudanese government itself is not hiding its failure to salvage the economy, although it denies its policies are responsible, but maintains that foreign interference and international pressures on Sudan, because of its Islamic orientation and its 'civilized project', are to blame.

The Cost of Basic Commodities in 1989 & 1995
Item UnitMay 1989 September 1995
Dollar 1$ 12 SP 720 SP
Lamb 1 kg 18 1400
Beef 1kg 12 1200
Sugar 1lb 0.15 450
Tea 1lb 12 800
Coffee 1lb 0.9 150
Bread 1 piece 0.15 25
Fish 1kg 0.3 1600
Egg 1dozen 1.80 840
Aspirin 100 0.5 1250
Rice 1kg 0.6 450
Lentils 1kg 0.25 500
Tooth Paste 1tube 0.4 450
Toilet Soap 1bar 0.15 250


The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. George Carey, recently visited Sudan, where he met a number of Sudanese officials. He also visited Juba in Southern Sudan and camps of the displaced around Khartoum. He held masses in Khartoum and Juba. In his meeting with President Omer Al-Bashir, the Archbishop raised the issues of human rights, the treatment of Christians and the civil war. The Sudanese media reported that Bashir denied any human rights violations against Christians and assured the Archbishop that 'Christians enjoy all their rights and freely practice their religion, unlike the Muslims in Britain'. He said claims of human rights violations are baseless and are instigated by the political agenda of Amnesty International.
Sadig Al-Mahdi, the last elected Prime Minister and leader of the Umma Party, refused to attend a reception for Dr. Carey hosted by the British Ambassador, on the grounds that the Archbishop's program did not include meetings with Opposition leaders.


The Sudanese government had asked Germany to replace its ambassador in Khartoum, who angered the government by remarks accusing them of killing students in custody. Germany declined to take action. The German Ambassador, Peter Mende, addressing a seminar on 'Geological Research' at the University of Khartoum, said 'his government could not stomach a government that killed students in detention centres'. He explained that his government will deal only with the Sudanese people and with scientists, researchers and students. The Sudanese Finance Minister, who was attending the seminar, asked him to withdraw his remarks and apologize.
Mende was summoned to the Foreign Ministry and was criticized for his comments. Leaving the Foreign Ministry, the ambassador went straight to visit Sadig Al-Mahdi at his home. Mende had, a few days earlier, given Al-Mahdi an official invitation from the German Foreign Minister to take part in a seminar on 'Islam and the Arabs' to be held in early November in Germany. Mahdi applied for an exit visa, but the authorities refused to allow him to travel. Germany announced the seminar had been postponed to a later, unspecified date.


About 30,000 Sudanese had arrived home after being expelled from Libya. Packed on 129 trucks and 38 buses, they traveled 1,700 miles across the desert for two weeks under extremely harsh conditions. Libya had asked the United Nations for permission for air transport to send home more than 1 million people it deported. More than 1,000 flights were needed to carry the half million Sudanese asked to leave. The UN rejected the Libyan request.
Members of the Sudanese Transitional National Assembly had demanded that Sudan expels 500,000 Eriterean and 300,000 Ethiopian refugees to make room for those returning from Libya.


Twenty Eight Egyptian militants, members of al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya, know as al-Aidoon min al-Sudan (Returnees from Sudan), arrested in June while trying to re-enter Egypt, were referred to a military court. They were charged with possession of arms, explosives and detonators.
The Egyptian authorities said members of the group confessed they were trained in Sudan, and were able to identify, from photographs, those who tried to kill President Mubarak in Addis Ababa in June this year. They said Sudan provided them with a training camp in southern Khartoum and a special plane to facilitate their internal movements and apartments in Khartoum.
Dr. Hassan al-Turabi, the leader of the National Islamic Front, attacked the Egyptian government and said, on a radio interview, 'The Egyptian regime had overstepped all norms of justice in its efforts to destroy the Islamic movement'. He described the referral of Islamists to military courts as a violation of human rights.


Amnesty International has issued an Urgent Action on 16 October on behalf of the following prisoners of conscience:
AI expressed fear that the eight men may be facing torture in incommunicado detention. Mohamed Ibrahim Kabaj was reportedly arrested on 29 September. His family in Sudan have not seen him since and his whereabouts remain unknown. The other seven men are reported to have been arrested on various dates on or shortly after 12 September and are also detained without charge or trial by the security services in an unknown location.
These arrests are part of a security clampdown following widespread street protests in Khartoum between 11 and 14 September. Many of those named above have been arrested on several previous occasions. Kamal Abdel Karim Mirghani was only released from detention on 26 August. Other political prisoners detained in connection with the demonstrations have been badly beaten. One young man was reportedly held briefly by security officers who broke both his arms. An intermediate school student arrested on 12 September was beaten in incommunicado detention before being dumped from a vehicle outside his home on the evening of 14 September.


[] China had granted Sudan an $18 million loan to finance two projects. The loan was agreed during the visit to China by President Omer Al-Bashir at the end of September. No details were given of the projects.


Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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