UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
|Issue No 24||February 1997|
|'Sudan News & Views' is an independent electronic Newsletter
working to advocate peace, human rights and humanitarian aid
for the Sudan.
On the military front, few clashes occurred during the past four weeks.
The NDA reported that the alliance forces attacked an army garrison in
Khor al-Gana, killing 27 soldiers and taking weapons and ammunition.
They later withdrew.
The government, on the other hand, reported a victory. 'The armed forces and the Popular Defence Forces achieved a spectacular victory on the Tigrayan mercenaries and pockets of rebels in Khor al-Gana. They managed to kill over 35 of the enemy forces. We lost three martyrs', government papers said.
Fighting also had been reported in Maban, where SSIM forces, led by Riak Machar himself, tried to uproot SPLA forces, but failed and had to withdraw after suffering heavy losses, according to the SPLA.
On the diplomatic front, Sadig al-Mahdi, had been touring the Middle East and Africa to muster support and overcome Arab fears. Since he fled to Eritrea in December last year, he has visited Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya. It was reported that Kuwait had made a private plane with its crew, all-expenses-paid, at his disposal.
Both Omer al-Bashir and Hassan al-Turabi ruled out any chance of dialogue or reconciliation with the opposition forces, until all captured areas are liberated.
SUDAN'S OIL BONANZA
Following on Arakis footsteps, another Canadian company, International
Petroleum Corporation (IPC), announced that it had reached an agreement
with Petronas to jointly explore and develop oilfields in an area adjacent
to Arakis concession. Under the terms of the agreement, IPC and Petronas
will jointly assign a 5% interest to Sudapet. The concession (known as
Block 5A) covers an area of nearly 30,000 sq. Km, situated in the
Muglad basin, and just 30 km from the Unity and Heglig fields operated
The American Occidental Petroleum Corporation was widely speculated to be also negotiating for a concession near the Arakis project.
On March 3, President Bashir officially inaugurated commercial production of the Adar Yale oilfield in Upper Nile state, that was developed by Gulf Petroleum Company (GPC). GPC was set up in Aug. 95, and owned by the Qatar Petroleum Company (60%) and the two Sudanese firms Concorp and National Petroleum Company with 20% each. The field was discovered in 1982, but insecurity (the oilfield was attacked by the SPLA last year, killing and wounding many) and lack of finance were reported to have delayed the development. Initially, 5,000 barrels a day will be transported by truck to Melut, by river barge to Kosti, and by rail to Port Sudan refinery.
This black-gold rush in Sudan, has heightened worries and concerns of
many African and Arab countries. It is feared that Sudan would use its
newly-found wealth to promote terrorism and destabilize neighbouring
A Canadian inter-church coalition blasted Arakis for moving forward with the project despite Sudan government's 'brutal' record on human rights.
Close at home, all opposition groups are concerned that oil revenues would be used to buy arms to fight the war against them. Sadig Almahdi, leader of the Umma Party and former Prime Minister, John Garang, commander of the SPLA, Lam Akol, commander of the SPLA-United, Abdel Aziz Khalid, commander of the Sudanese Allied Forces (SAF), had all issued warnings to all foreign companies involved in Sudan to pull out or their installations and personnel would be considered legitimate military targets. A recent statement by SAF described Arakis and IPC as 'vultures and merchants of death'. 'They have offered direct help to the fanatics in Khartoum to murder, enslave and oppress our people. As such, they have allied themselves with the enemies of freedom, democracy and peace. They will be treated as enemies', the statement said.
Arakis Chief Executive, John McLeod, said that rebel threats had been
a fact of life for his firm over the past two years, but operations had
never been attacked and security remained tight. He said he believed
Arakis would continue operating even if the Khartoum government was
overthrown. 'The likelihood of a rebel overthrow, we feel, is very,
very remote', he said.
The site of the oilfields in Al-Muglad area is heavily defended by Arakis's own large security force (said to be white South African mercenaries), the Sudanese army and NIF militia, the PDF. However, opposition forces had occupied and advanced into the eastern region, through which the pipeline to Port Sudan is due to be laid.
In addition to the threats by the resistance movements, local communities in southern Sudan are now demanding that a share of the oil revenue be spent on local development. Even pro-government faction leaders, Riak Machar of SSIM and Kerbino Kwanyn Bol of the SPLA-Bahr el-Ghazal, during their talks with Khartoum, aimed at transforming the political charter signed in April 1996 into a peace agreement, have deadlocked over the oil issue. They demanded that 40% of oil revenues be paid to local councils. The government argued that peace should be established first before issues of development are tackled. This led Kerbino to walk out of the talks which are now suspended.
With international and regional concerns on Sudan's threat to regional peace, and mounting local resistance, any attempts to exploit the oil in Sudan are indeed quite risky and are bound to run into formidable obstacles.
THE UN INDECISIVE OVER AIR EMBARGOThe Security Council held several meetings to discuss imposing an air embargo on Sudan, but reached no immediate conclusion.
The chairman of the NDA, Mohamed Osman al-Mirghani, said in a letter to the UN Secretary-General that the claim by Khartoum that the imposition of the sanctions would harm the Sudanese people was absolutely untrue. He pointed out that Sudan Airway's lack of cargo aircraft belied the claims by the government that its aircraft carried humanitarian supplies. The letter drew attention to the NIF's poor human rights record, and the irrefutable evidence indicating that Sudan Airways was being used to transport the regime's operatives and NIF security agents, and the part the airline played in the assassination attempt on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Addis Ababa in 1995.
ECONOMIC POINTERS Sudan and the IMF have reached agreement on an economic program for Sudan, therefore forestalling its expulsion from the organisation. The IMF gave Sudan a reprieve till the end of August, provided Sudan paid its arrears and implemented an acceptable program of economic and financial reform, to be monitored monthly by IMF staff. No details of the agreed economic program were given.
 The United Nations had appealed for $120.8 million to meet the
emergency humanitarian needs of an estimated 4.2 million war-affected
and displaced persons in Sudan. At present, some 4.2 million
people (3.4 million in southern states; 445,000 in the transitional
zone and 395,000 in greater Khartoum) will require assistance in
the form of medical and health care, basic education and emergency
Sudan is estimated to have the highest number of internally displaced persons in the world, with as many as 4 million people, 80 per cent of whom are women and children.
The money is to finance 33 projects administered by various UN agencies, such as UNICEF, WFP and WHO.
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