UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
|Issue No 27||June 1997|
|'Sudan News & Views'
is an independent electronic Newsletter working to advocate peace, human
rights and humanitarian aid for the Sudan.
> JOINT MILITARY COMMAND PRESS RELEASE
The Joint Military Command (JMC) of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) had issued a statement on 01 July 1997, giving a summary of the military situation in southern and eastern Sudan. The following is the text of the statement, which was signed by Cdr/Dr John Garang de Mabior, the Chairman of the JMC:
On June 30th, 1997, the same day the NIF regime were celebrating their
eighth anniversary in power, the Joint Military Command (JMC) of the National
Democratic Alliance (NDA) held its second meeting under the Chairmanship
of Cdr/Dr. John Garang d Mabior. It is to be recalled that the JMC held
its first meeting on December 5th 1996, and that in the last seven months
NDA forces have scored spectacular victories in both South and North Sudan.
In summary form, the following are the highlights of the military operations since the last meeting of the JMC in various fronts:
Despite the recent kenyan-brokered talks between the Sudanese and Ugandan
Presidents, and the upcoming IGAD meeting, relations between Uganda and
Sudan had shown no sign of improvement. President al-Bashir had raised
the issue of the Sudanese prisoners and the resumption of diplomatic relations
at the recent summits in Kenya and Zimbabwe. Uganda said it will free the
114 Sudanese prisoners it holds, if Khartoum pressed Ugandan rebels to
release 35 girls abducted from their school last October.
'No schoolgirls, No prisoners', President Yoweri Museveni told a news conference in Kampala.
'The Sudanese government has been playing tricks on Uganda and this answers those who believe we can engage in dialogue with Sudan,' he said.
The girls were part of a group of 150 people abducted in October last year by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) led by Joseph Kony.
Uganda sent its head of external intelligence and the headmistress of the school to Khartoum last month to negotiate for the girls' freedom, but returned to Kampala empty-handed.
Although the LRA had recently suffered heavy losses at the hands of
the SPLA in southern Sudan, it started re-building its forces. They have
established three new bases in southern Sudan to compensate for the destruction
of their headquarters at Aru in April.
Ugandan intelligence sources reported that the LRA was planning to fight back the SPLA, who attacked and occupied their bases at Aru, south of Juba. It also reported that the Sudanese government had flown LRA leader Joseph Kony and his deputies Otti Lagony, Nyeko Yadil and Omona to Khartoum to regroup.
Kenyan President, Daniel Arap Moi, chairman of the Inter-governmental
Authority on Development (IGAD), has called the group member states for
a summit to discuss the crisis in Sudan. The meeting, to be held in Nairobi,
had been scheduled for May 28 but was postponed to July 8, because it clashed
with the OAU summit in Harrare. SPLA leader John Garang has also been invited.
Negotiations between Khartoum and the SPLA under the IGAD auspices were
broken off in September 1994 after four rounds of talks which got nowhere.
> INTENSIFIED EXCHANGE OF ACCUSATIONS
Eritrea has accused Sudan of plotting to kill President Issaias Afeworki. Eritrean Foreign Minister Haile Woldensae told a news conference that the Sudan government sent one of its secret service agents to Eritrea to kill Afeworki. 'This heinous crime was conceived at the highest levels of the NIF regime, with explicit orders given to the terrorist from senior government officials including Turabi and General Omar Al-Bashir, head of state,' said Haile.
Eritrea named the would-be-assassin as Captain Nasr
eldin Babiker Aba al-Khairat. of Sudan's General Security Services. It
claimed he had 'other subversive support groups' sent from Khartoum.
Aba al-Khairat gave Eritrean authorities details of the plot and of training camps for fundamentalist opposition groups in eastern and northern Sudan. A transcript of al-Khairat's confession was circulated to the media. In the transcript, the accused tells of his military training in Sudan and that he left Khartoum on November 14, 1996, to go the Eritrean border in order to infiltrate the Sudanese opposition alliance.
Eritrea said it would file a complaint with the United Nations.
In early June, the Sudanese authorities said they had arrested an unspecified
number of civilians and soldiers for planning a series of political assassinations
and other acts of violence. Culture and Information Minister, Al-Tayeb
Mohamed Khair, said Eritrea was behind the plotters.
One man, Adel Mahgoub, claimed to have been assigned to blow up parliament, was paraded on Sudanese television. Adel Mahgoub was known for hijacking a Sudan Airways plane to Egypt in April 1994. Egypt had turned down a request by Sudan to extradite him and was given a one-year suspended sentence by an Egyptian court in 1995.
Sudanese media linked the plot to a statement said to have been made by Mansour Khalid, a former foreign minister and a close aide of SPLA leader, John Garang. Khalid was reported to have said that the Khartoum government was in for a big surprise.
Amid all this intensified exchange of accusations, and anticipation
of a fresh offensive by opposition forces in the eastern region, Sudanese
press continued its frantic reports that Eritrean troops have been mobilized
all along the borders with the Sudan, and are armed with modern equipment
including armored vehicles and rockets. The reports said that Eritrean
troops are ready to launch an attack to occupy the main Khartoum-Port
Sudan road and to occupy the towns of Kasala and Port Sudan to enable the
Sudanese opposition to move into the depth of Sudan.
> OPPOSITION VICTORIES
The SPLA said its forces had taken Yirol, a strategic town in the Lakes
(Buhayrat) State. 'The capture of Yirol ends any hope of land reinforcements
reaching the beleaguered government garrison in Juba, the main town in
the south, from Bahr el Ghazal region,' SPLA spokesman said. He said
the battle in Yirol lasted five and a half hours. Many of the 900 to 1,000
troops stationed there were killed, others fled south towards Juba, he
said, and the SPLA captured large quantities of arms and ammunition. Earlier
in April the SPLA captured Rumbek, the Lakes state capital, 380 km northwest
of Juba and 100 km west of Yirol, and later took Tonj, further west
At the end of June, the SPLA had taken two key garrison towns, Tali and Shambe, which brought the city of Juba within artillery range. The capture of Shambe had blocked river transport to Juba and cut it off from reinforcements or supplies from Khartoum.
On the northeastern front, the Sudanese Allied Forces (SAF) are holding to the areas they occupied during the past few months. Faisal Saleh, a reporter for the Cairo-based al-Khartoum newspaper, said he spent six days in the area and was witness to a Sudanese air force bombing raid. He visited the towns and villages of Agitay, Adoubna, Itirba, Garora on the Eritrean border and Agig on the Red Sea coast about 50 km inside Sudanese territory. Saleh said between 150,000 to 200,000 people were living in the area and appeared to be happy with the change, despite some food shortages and the loss of government salaries. He quoted NDA fighters as saying that when they took the area they destroyed two exile training camps run by Eritrean Jihad, one at Itirba and the other at Marafit. Members of Jihad took part in the fighting alongside government forces, they added.
As the NDA forces continue to advance in all battle fronts, its
officials claim that an increasing number of government personnel
have been defecting to the opposition. Policemen, prison wardens,
and army soldiers were reported to have helped and welcomed advancing SPLA
forces in many areas in southern Sudan. According the SPLA, 500 pro-government
militiamen defected to the SPLA at the end of June in southern Sudan, along
with their armaments.
A senior government officer, with the rank of Colonel, was also reported to have defected from Damazine garrison with some of his soldiers and joined the opposition forces in Southern Blue Nile in mid June. He is the most senior officer to defect to the NDA to date.
The Sudanese regime, faced with heavy losses in the battle fronts and
lack of support from the majority of the population, has called on imams
(religious leaders) to mobilize support for the 'jihad'
urging them to use their influence to persuade more young men to join the fighting forces
Also, as part of a series of measures aimed at boosting the numbers of young people joining up, the government had recently announced that students who sat exams last month would have to join military training camps for 18 months before they allowed to proceed to university education.
> RISING CRIME AMONG WOMEN
A two-day workshop on crime, held in Khartoum, highlighted the increasing
crime rate among Sudanese women. According to the director of the federal
police, women are involved in drug operations, financial mismanagement,
murder, illegal abortions, looting of cattle, as well as being involved
in the tribal conflicts and armed robbery in western Sudan. Police records
for 1995 show that 1,122 people died as a result of crimes committed by
women compared to 900 deaths due to crimes carried out by men.
The increasing resort to the life of crime is mainly due to the authorities lack of concern for women's rights and the harsh economic conditions, which drove many women to work as street vendors. Vendors are often harassed by the police and security forces, who carry out regular sweeps to remove them from the streets. Women vendors in the streets of Khartoum now reportedly carry knives, axes and sticks to protect themselves and to use them as weapons against the police.
According to police statistics, there are about 40,000 women who earn their living selling tea on the streets of Khartoum, and if the authorities continue to prevent them from working, they are bound to react violently.
Such violence erupted at the end of June, when police, in a public order
crackdown, rounded up more than 2,000 street vendors and homeless children,
and held them in the yard of Kober prison in Khartoum. The detainees, who
are mostly women and children, rioted and clashed with police using stones
and bricks. Others had climbed the wall in an attempt to escape.
Police had to use tear gas to break up the riot and contain the situation.
The detainees were later transferred to an unused cinema theatre 'until
a solution to their problem is worked out', the authorities said.
> THE WEAPON OF RELIEF AID
Relief agencies, involved with Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS), had suspended
all aid flights to southern Sudan after the Khartoum regime refused to
renew permission for the air operation.
A senior Sudanese government official said that Khartoum had halted air relief flights into southern Sudan because aid agencies had violated their mandate in the region.
OLS normally makes about 30 flights a week into southern Sudan
This happened at the time aid agencies are warning of looming famine in both south and north sudan. The red cross said some 300-thousand nomads living in the northeastern Red Sea hills region are on the verge of starvation. Serious malnutrition is widespread and worsening. the Beja nomads have lost pastureland, and crops have failed because of drought. If sufficient rain does not come in July and August, people who are already malnourished could start dying. Current efforts to distribute sorghum and other food to the Beja nomads have run into logistical problems. The Red Cross says some of the 50 distribution points are caught up in military action.
Another charity, World Vision International, says things are just as
bad in the southern Bahr el-Ghazal region. There are already reports
of death by starvation in Tonj province, where more than 55 thousand people
are in need of immediate assistance. But the Sudanese government has refused
to let the UN's OLS fly its C-130 cargo airplane to the Tonj to distribute
food, since it is in an area controlled by the rebel SPLA. Informed sources say the reason behind that ban was that the plane was depressing the morale of government soldiers who saw it flying overhead to deliver food to rebel-held areas.
 Sudan has proposed the opening of a trade center in Dubai in the
United Arab Emirates in an obvious attempt to benefit from the fast-emerging
role of the Emirates as a re-export market. Sudanese Minister
of Foreign Trade Osman al-Hadi Ibrahim, who is heading a trade mission
to the Emirates, said he is also seeking to sign an agreement with
the Gulf state on investment protection guarantees and avoidance
of double taxation to encourage increased cross-border investments.
The proposed Sudanese trade center would be set up in Dubai this year to stimulate two-way trade, which could be improved, 'given the strong traditional ties between the two countries' The trade center would enable importers and prospective business partners in the Emirates to get information about Sudanese exports, which now comprise mostly meat, agriculture products, sugar and livestock. 'We expect the new momentum given to foreign investment inflow to gather pace with peace and political stability returning to the country,' the minister said. 'With the exception of some pockets in the south and east where unrest prevails, the situation is relatively stable,' he added.
 Embezzlement from the public treasury reached half a million dollars (767 million Sudanese pounds) in the second half of 1995, the Sudanese government's Auditor General, Abubakir Abdallah Marin, has told parliament. He attributed the squandering of public funds to 'weak financial controls,
non-abidance by the financial rules and regulations and lack of accountability.' He revealed that out of the amount, only 61 million pounds (about 40,000 dollars) has been recovered.
 An unprecedented recession in the gold markets has sent prices plummeting from 18.5 million to 16.3 million Sudanese pounds (12,333 to 10,867 dollars) a kilogram. The official Al Anbaa newspaper attributed the recession to an increase in supply and a drop in demand for gold because people were short of cash and under pressure. The paper said selling and buying operations in the gold markets had come to a near-standstill with a number of goldsmiths thinking of quitting the trade.
Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar
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