Sudan Update Vol.6 No.11,[07/12/95]

Sudan Update Vol.6 No.11,[07/12/95]

SUDAN UPDATE - VOLUME SIX NUMBER 11 - Dateline 12 July 1995 Mubarak accuses Turabi / Irwa rejected / Uganda-Sudan agreement / Asmara meeting / IMF extends monitoring / Dinder Park / Female circumcision / Nuba - The Secret War

MUBARAK ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT: Egyptian President Husni Mubarak survived an assassination attempt in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 26 June. His motorcade was on the way from the airport to a meeting of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) when a van loaded with explosives blocked its path and gunmen opened fire from the rooftops. Mubarak was unhurt, although two motorcycle outriders were killed, and the motorcade returned to the airport. Later, in Cairo, Mubarak accused the Sudanese regime of involvement in the attempt on his life.

On 1 July Ethiopian security forces stormed a house in the capital after a two-hour shoot-out, and killed three men suspected of involvement in the attack. According to several reports, the assassins are said to have rented the house in Addis Ababa from a Sudanese. However, the Ethiopian authorities identified the dead men as Egyptians, and rejected Egyptian government allegations that Ethiopian security officers had been bribed into collusion with the assassination attempt.

On Thursday 29 June, Mubarak accused Sudan's National Islamic Front leader Dr Hassan al-Turabi of involvement in the assassination attempt, and suggested it had been planned in March this year. He described President Omar Hassan al-Bashir as a mere "secretary" to Dr Turabi, and warned of a sharp response if Sudan continued to "provoke" Egypt, although Egypt denied Sudanese reports of a troop build-up along the border. An aide to Turabi told a Lebanese newspaper on 30 June that any Egyptian attack on Sudan would become a massacre for Egypt. (VoA 30/Jun/95; BBC WS 30 Jun/95; Observer 2/Jul/95; AP, Reuter 30 Jun/95 - 5 Jul/95)

HALA'IB SKIRMISH: At least two Sudanese were killed in a border skirmish in Hala'ib at the end of June that left another six soldiers injured. In response, a group of Sudanese attacked Egyptian diplomatic residences in Khartoum and evicted the families living there. On 30 June Sudan accused Egyptian troops of killing another Sudanese soldier in the disputed border area of Hala'ib. Khartoum complained to the United Nations Security Council about alleged Egyptian attacks in the disputed Hala'ib area, and asked for the Arab League to mediate. In Cairo, military officials denied that any units had been moved south, although they did not rule out redeployments within the southern region. (VoA 30/Jun/95; AP 3/Jul/95)

ETHIOPIA BLAMES EGYPTIANS: On 4 July the Chinese Xinhua news agency said that Sudan had welcomed the results of investigations undertaken by the Ethiopian authorities into the failed assassination attempt. The Ethiopian report said that the suspects killed by security forces were of Egyptian origin, according to AP on 4 July.

`Ethiopia has said seven to nine gunmen took part in the attack on Mubarak and two were killed on the spot. Another three were killed in a raid Saturday [1 July] on a house the Ethiopians said was used to plan the attack. All five killed so far, as well as those still at large, were Egyptian, the government statement said. On Monday [3 July], the Ethiopian government insisted that Egyptian terrorists were solely responsible for the attack, and dismissed Egyptian accusations of Ethiopian involvement as "a campaign of lies and defamation." (AP 3/Jul/95)

`Sudanese danced, pounded drums and blew horns in the streets Sunday as their government tried to whip up anger over charges that Sudan plotted to kill Egypt's president,' reports AP. `A day after Egypt sought to cool the fierce dispute between the two Arab countries, Sudan promised not to retreat from an Islamic agenda that has alienated most of its neighbours.'

"The Sudanese masses are ready to die in defense of their territorial integrity and will not let any foreign aggression go unanswered," said the English-language newspaper Daily Horizon.

On 5 July `about 20,000 Sudanese militiamen took part in a demonstration of anti-Egyptian sentiment, reports IPS. `Thousands of soldiers and militiamen, some thrusting Kalashnikov rifles into the air, poured into a huge park Monday, promising to repel any Egyptian attack on the disputed border area of Hala'ib, on the Red Sea. State television ridiculed Mubarak as an unstable leader.

It contrasted Mubarak's greeting of well-wishers inside elaborate palaces with el-Bashir's dancing and chanting with excited supporters in the streets.

`"Look at the difference between Mubarak, who is afraid like a rat, and ...our leader, who mixes with the people," a television announcer crowed. "Let them dare and they will see the soldiers of God appear at them from all sides," one of thousands of rallying posters in Khartoum proclaimed. But neither country wants war and on Tuesday Sudanese Minister of State Ghazi Salah-Eddeen urged Egypt to accept international mediation to end the crisis over Hala'ib.' (AP 4/Jul/95; IPS 5/Jul/95)

GAMA'A AL-ISLAMIA CLAIM DISMISSED: Egyptian officials dismissed a claim on 4 July by the radical Gama'a al-Islamia group that it had been behind the failed assassination attempt, saying this was merely "the terrorists trying to get their friends in Khartoum off the hook." [Observers asked why it took the group a week to make the claim.] Egyptian state-controlled and opposition papers called for a tougher line with Sudan. (Independent 5/Jul/95)

WATER AS A WEAPON: Athreat to withhold Nile waters from Egypt was repeated by Sudanese government officials on 4 July after first being made by Dr Hassan al-Turabi, leader of Sudan's National Islamic Front. Interior Minister al-Tayeb Muhammad Kheir declared that if Egypt continued attacking Sudanese targets in Hala'ib, Khartoum would reconsider all treaties with its northern neighbour, including an agreement relating to the use of the Nile waters. He claimed that the Egyptian Parliament had debated the possible annexation of Hala'ib. Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Uthman Muhammad Taha appeared more conciliatory, and called for a diplomatic effort "to prove Sudan's legitimate right" to the territory.

President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt responded by warning Sudan against interference with the water supply: "Those who play with fire in Khartoum ... will push us to confrontation and to defend our rights and our lives," he told Al-Akhbar newspaper. Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Musa said Egypt would go to war if any country sharing the Nile waters attempted to change the course of the river.

According to the Independent, `A Western diplomat in Cairo who recalled that Egyptian MPs called in 1989 for a proposed dam site on the Blue Nile in Ethiopia to be bombed, said: "The Egyptians are very concerned about the security of the Nile." It is feared Egypt might exploit the crisis to overthrow the Sudan regime, not only to counter the threat of subversion, but also to signal to other states that any encroachment on the Nile waters will not be tolerated.

`When the Egypt-Israel peace treaty was signed in 1979 the late President Anwar Sadat said that "the only matter that would take Egypt to war again is water." In theory Khartoum could temporarily affect the flow of the Nile, and although this would have no practical effect on Egypt's Lake Nasser, which holds water for five years' use, the effect on Egyptian public opinion would be devastating. (Independent, IPS 5/Jul/95)

U.S. THUMBS DOWN FOR FATIH IRWA: The United States government has refused to accept Khartoum's nomination of General Al-Fatih Irwa as Sudan's ambassador to Washington. No official reasons were given for rejecting General Irwa, who had close contacts with the American intelligence community and played a key role in the secret removal of Ethiopian "Falashas" to Israel during the Nimeiri regime.

Sudan Democratic Gazette and other observers note that General Irwa was the senior security official present in Juba in February 1992, when hundreds of civilians "disappeared" in suspicious circumstances following the SPLA incursion into the Southern capital. It is commonly believed that they were extra-judicially killed by the security forces. Among those killed were two Southern Sudanese employees of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), including Mr Andrew Tombe, and the US administration's demands for an investigation into his death have not been met. The US government has also demanded that the families of the two officials be fully compensated. (Sudan Democratic Gazette Jul/95)


MALAWI BROKERS AGREEMENT: Uganda and Sudan signed an agreement on the re-establishment of relations at talks in Blantyre, Malawi, on 11 June 1995. Malawi's President Bakili Muluzi mediated the agreement in his capacity as head of the Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), to which both Sudan and Uganda belong. He commented at the start of the talks, "Dialogue is the main tool for peace and harmony among nations and I hope your meeting here will result in understanding and tolerance."

In a joint communique Sudan and Uganda agreed: "That Uganda and Sudan shall re-establish a joint permanent ministerial commission for ensuring that any outstanding issues or new issues that may arise affecting relations between the two countries are resolved amicably and to their mutual benefit."

Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir said Sudan was committed and desired to establish sister relations with Uganda. Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni said free trade between the two neighbouring nations was impossible without peace. "It is a must that when we talk of trade we must talk about peace." (Reuter 11/Jun/95)

VATICAN ENVOY DENIES CALLING FOR INTERVENTION: According to National Unity Radio (Omdurman), the Vatican ambassador to Khartoum has denied a statement published by the Ugandan newspaper New Vision quoting him as having called on the international community to intervene in Sudan. `He denied making any statement on the matter and stressed that, when asked for his views on foreign intervention, he had referred to the negative effects of foreign intervention in Somalia, former Yugoslavia and others, which made him totally reject the issue of foreign intervention in Sudan,' the radio said on 8 May. (NUR / SWB 8/May/95)

OPPOSITION MEET IN ASMARA: A second meeting of elements of the Sudanese opposition took place in the Eritrean capital Asmara on 14 June, aiming to work out strategies to restore democracy. Officials of the ruling Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF) said the meeting, described as the biggest such gathering since 1992, was not influenced by the poor relations between Eritrea and the regime in Khartoum, but by the need for peace in the region.

"It is not a question of tit-for-tat. It arises from a longstanding relationship with democratic Sudanese forces," an EPLF spokesman said.

The Speaker of Sudan's Transitional National Assembly, Muhammad al-Amin Khalifa, responded: "What is happening in Eritrea is strange. Neighbouring countries should be working to contain conflicts and not supporting outlaws." Members of he TNA formally asked its security and defence committees to prepare a report on the meeting. Anwar al-Hadi, director of the Foreign Ministry's political affairs department, told SUNA that the participation of foreign embassies violated diplomatic practices and norms. Akhbar al-Yom newspaper reported on 23 June that Sudan intended to lodge an official complaint with the Organisation of African Unity about the meeting.

Among the 90 delegates to Asmara are representatives from the Umma Party, the Democratic Unionist Party, the Sudan Communist Party and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM/SPLA- Mainstream). They are expected to adopt a plan of action to topple the military-Islamist regime of Lt-Gen Omar Hassan al-Bashir. (Reuter 14,23/Jun/95; Compass 15/Jun/95; SUNA)

BASHIR DENOUNCES "CONSPIRACY PLAN": A "conspiracy plan" involving the banned Umma Party and the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) has been cited by President Omar al-Bashir as the reason for arresting the Umma Party leader Sadiq al-Mahdi. According to the London embassy bulletin Sudan News, he told the United Arab Emirates publication Al-Shiroug that the agreement between the rebel movement and the Umma Party at the southern town of `Shagdoum' [presumably Chukudum] was part of a plot against his regime by `the so-called new Sudan legion of the opposition elements'.

Bashir also referred to `the gathering of opposition factions and the rebel movement in Eritrea for weaving a plot against the Sudan,' which he described as `a desperate attempt aimed at transferring hostility acts to the northern part of Sudan and perpetrating subversive and military activities.'

Sudan News says that senior Umma Party figure Omar Nur ad-Daeim announced the plan and sent it to the party's leaders inside Sudan, who approved it. (SEB 21/Jun/95)

YOUNGSTERS ROUNDED UP: `A recent military recruitment campaign in major cities including the capital Khartoum, organised by the National Military Service department, has targeted teenagers as young as 14 for military training,' according to reports reaching the Sudan Human Rights Organisation.

`Hundreds of youngsters were reported rounded up in February and March 1995, from the streets and public transport vehicles, without the knowledge of their parents. Checkpoints were established on the main roads leading to cities, and tents were mounted in different parts of the capital Khartoum for the forcible registration of youngsters for military training and religious indoctrination.

`The captured youngsters were reported shipped out to military training camps... After the completion of [crash] training many of them were reported to have been taken to the war zone in Southern Sudan and forced to fight beside the government forces against the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA).' (Sudan Human Rights Voice Apr/95)

**************************************** HEALTH **************************************** FEMALE CIRCUMCISION, RELIGION AND CHANGE: `Islam never condoned female circumcision and there is no mention in any reliable document that it was recommended to create equity in the system. In fact the Prophet Mohamed did not circumcise his own daughters and Muslims outside Africa do not use the practice,' writes Dr Nahid Toubia in Baobab magazine.

`Let us face it, this practice is part of the injustices of African society against women. Why is it difficult for us Africans to admit our mistakes and move forward? Why do we hold on to the past even when it is wrong? Are we so afraid of change? Change is the only way people and societies survive against the challenges of the world. We must have the courage to choose where Africa is going and not be dragged into a future we have not planned. Many of us African women are coming to understand our role in leading and shaping our societies. We have the stamina to take on the task. For me, self- respect, ethics and pride come from that contribution, not from mutilating my children's bodies.'

Nahid Toubia was the first woman surgeon in Sudan. Forced to leave her country because of the political situation in 1989, she is now a professor at Columbia University School of Public Health in New York. She is the founder and Executive Director of Research, Action & Information Network for Bodily Integrity of Women, a non-profit organisation dealing with issues of women's health and human rights, which has launched a global "Call to Action" against the practice of female genital mutilation. The Network's address is 915 Broadway, Suite 1603, New York, NY 10010, USA. Baobab is published by the Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN), which networks information and `strives to improve the development practices of project workers in dryland Africa'. It is contactable at ALIN, Casier Postale 3, Dakar-Fann, Senegal. (Baobab No.16, May/95)

BUDGET PROPOSAL: A transitional six-month budget has been approved by Sudan's ministerial cabinet, and, subject to parliamentary approval, will come into effect on 1 July. Although it raises total expenditure to fund an increase in government pay and perks, it also aims to curb an increase in money supply and reduce inflation, Finance Minister Abdallah Hassan Ahmad told al-Inqaz al-Watani on 19 June.

The six-month budget is intended to pave the way for a transition from the traditional July-June financial year in Sudan to a January-December one. The spending total for the six month period is set at Sud 268 billion (US$506 million), compared with the expenditure for the entire fiscal year 1994-95 of Sud 245 billion (US$463 million), according to Reuter. Motor vehicle taxes and corporate taxes will be reduced from 5% to 2.5%, and about $1.1 million have been earmarked for health insurance. The minister said the country's fiscal priority was the petroleum sector, followed by agriculture, water, transport and communications. (Reuter/al-Inqaz al-Watani 19/Jun/95)

MINIMUM PAY - $13 PER MONTH: The minimum pay for government employees is to be increased from Sud 5,200 to Sud 6,900 ($13) under the new budget plan, and an amendment to the budget will provide public employees with subsidised commodities. The Finance Minister added that the state would set up a "support fund" for what he called the "rare" professions, such as university lecturers, physicians and engineers. (Reuter 19/Jun/95)
I.M.F. EXTENDS MONITORING: The International Monetary Fund has asked to monitor the country's economy for six more months, and asked Sudan to pay $7 million a month during the period towards the $1.7 billion it owes to the fund, Sudan's finance minister acknowledged on 14 June. Reuter, quoting the privately-owned Khartoum newspaper Akhbar al-Yom, says the news has dashed Sudan's hopes of an early return to full IMF membership.

Finance minister Abdallah Hassan Ahmad, who admitted that the request had been made during talks in Washington in May, said the extension of the monitoring period would be a great loss, since Sudan would not be able to benefit from an IMF programme designed to help countries like Sudan to settle their debts. Sudan's membership of the IMF is still formally suspended.

Sudan's overall debts are more than $16 billion, and the minister did not say how Sudan would manage the repayments to the IMF. (Reuter 14/Jun/95)

I.M.F. MISSION'S `POSITIVE' REPORT: The Minister of State for Finance, Muhammad Kheir al-Zubeir, has described the recent talks between Sudan and the IMF as positive, and said the fund's mission had stressed its total confidence in the achievements made in implementing the agreed programme, according to National Unity Radio. `He said the IMF mission's final report had assessed economic performance, particularly in the last nine months. He said the rate of inflation had dropped to 114 per cent and that there has been a growth in national revenue and an improvement in the implementation of monetary policies.
`The mission's report announced that Sudan experienced real growth in national revenue averaging between 6 and 8 per cent while the Finance Ministry put it at 8.5 per cent... The repayment programme [of debts] is expected to be completed by June in accordance with the statement of accord between the two sides last year.' A detailed report will be submitted to the IMF board of directors on 26 May. (NUR / SWB 8/May/95)
INFLATION `DOWN TO 74 PER CENT': Finance Minister Abdallah Hassan Ahmad has announced that the inflation rate has continued to decline, and was down to 74% in March. He saw this as having a positive impact on economic performance and the achievement of the budget objective of reducing inflation to 55% by the end of the financial year in June. (National Unity Radio / SWB 7/May/95)
ISLAMIC BANKING AND THE IDEOLOGICAL VOID: An article in The European examines the enthusiasm of the Western banks for Islamic banking and the `attractive but insular market' it has established. `Islamic economic policy and institutions are filling an ideological void in countries such as Iran, Pakistan and Sudan, which have implemented a legal framework for a non-interest banking system. However, `Islamic economists and activists may come to question the validity of the industry if all that it appears to do is soothe the consciences of wealthy Muslims, rather than act as a conduit for a fairer distribution of wealth throughout the Muslim world... If those further down the social scale are to be served by Islamic bankers, they will have to wait a long time. Islamic banking is short on piety and long on profit, and is unable to see the money-making potential in servicing the significant but largely lower-middle-class Muslim communities of countries such as France and Britain.'

It concludes: `The Islamic banking revolution is supposedly reacting against the West's alleged cultural and economic imperialism, and western banks' foray into non-interest banking may be seen as an original Islamic contribution being hi-jacked by the powerful ogres of finance. But Islamic bankers do not appear to have the ingenuity, or perhaps the will, to compete, and non-interest finance may well remain a niche market.' (European 28/Apr/95)

DINDER PARK UNDER THREAT: The warden of Dinder Park, the world's third largest wildlife park, in eastern Sudan, says its sustainability is threatened by hunters, nomads and farmers. Lt-Col Khatim Mubarak told Inter-Press Service that the park lacks funds and sufficient game wardens to patrol the area.

The 2,352 km2 park on the border with Ethiopia and Eritrea is home to more than 150 species of birds, and is surpassed in size only by Radom wildlife zone in southwestern Sudan and by Tsavo game park in Kenya, according to IPS.

Problems at Dinder grew in the late 1980s. First, 400 families escaping the severe drought moved into the park and settled there with their cattle, goats and sheep. Then commercial farmers followed, occupying some 20 km2 according to a recent report by the Wildlife Research Centre in Khartoum. The Centre says the merchant farmers from Khartoum have caused ecological damage through unrestrained agriculture and cutting of trees for firewood.

In 1989 the merchants, who have considerable political lobbying power, filed a lawsuit aimed at turning the park into agricultural schemes. They had the support of Mubarak al-Fadil al-Mahdi, who was a minister in the government at that time, says IPS. The court temporarily allotted them land in the park pending the outcome of the case, and Mubarak al-Fadil issued a decree `designating more chunks of land for them. But the plan was forestalled by the military coup launched by Lt-Gen Omar Hassan al-Bashir in June 1989.'

The decree was abrogated by the new regime. "We were able to stop the farmers from eating up lands which have been designated for animals during the rainy season," Lt-Col Khatim is quoted as saying. Nonetheless, Dinder Park has remained `under-developed' because of lack of funding from the government.

The Wildlife Research Centre also urged the government to take measures to stop hunters who poison the water sources in order to catch animals and birds, especially guinea fowl. The poison is `made from an agricultural product' and `kills within two to three minutes,' says its report. When the hunters collect the animals or birds, they remove the intestines and smoke the meat in order to deactivate the poison.

The chairman of the Sudanese Environmental Society, Dr Mutasim Nimr, is quoted as telling a recent workshop on the environment that a further threat to wildlife in Dinder is posed by the use of pesticide sprays from aircraft, which has a particularly acute effect on the bird population.

IPS adds that according to the 1994 World Development Report, Sudan's natural forest area has declined from 478,000 km2 in 1980 to 430,000km2 in 1990. The rate of deforestation in Sudan is put at 4,800km2 per year; or one per cent of the total forest area per year. (InterPress Service Africa Bulletin 1-7/Mar/95)

KAJBAR DAM FIGURES: The dam on the river Nile at Kajbar, 644km north of Khartoum, will be built over the next three years at a cost of US$100 million, reports the Pan-African News Agency. Sudan and the Russian firm Hydroprojekt signed the contract for construction on 30 April. Fatih Muhammad Ali, chairman of the national committee for the project, told PANA that it would eventually provide enough water for 1.62 million hectares, and that it would initially irrigate 404,700ha. 137,558ha of land have already been reclaimed, he said. In its early stages it will provide 50-70MW of hydroelectricity, and 300MW when completed, he added. The area's mining projects badly need electric power, and there are plans to grow wheat, vegetables, spices and indigenous crops on the newly irrigated land. (PANA / KNA / SWB 2/May/95)

`FACING GENOCIDE' - REPORT: The ten-year-old war of annihilation in the Nuba Mountains, `the most closely guarded secret in Sudan', is exposed in a new 358-page report by African Rights released on 21 July. African Rights has undertaken `the first first-hand investigation of human rights abuses in the Nuba Mountains since the war began'. The organisation `has visited the SPLA-held areas of the Nuba Mountains twice during 1995, travelled extensively, and gathered more than 130 first-hand testimonies of victims and witnesses of human rights abuse. It has also established a human rights monitoring programme, and receives regular and detailed reports from the monitors. Confidential documents from government and army sources have also been obtained.

`African Rights concludes that there is no doubt that genocide is being committed in the Nuba Mountains. If the Sudan Government is able to continue its war against the civilian population for one or two more seasons, tens of thousands of Nuba people will be killed, the majority of the women and girls raped, and most of the children separated from their parents. It is unlikely that Nuba civilisation as it has been known will ever exist again. There is a moral imperative on all who are concerned with basic human rights to prevent this crime from being perpetrated.

Facing Genocide: The Nuba of Sudan, 358pp, ISBN 1 899 477 04 7, price 9.95 / US$14.95, is published by African Rights, 11 Marshalsea Road, London SE1 1EP.

THE NUBA - SUDAN'S SECRET WAR: A filmed report from inside the Nuba Mountains by Julie Flint, entitled "The Nuba: Sudan's Secret War" is to be shown in the UK on BBC2 on Saturday 22 July at 7.15pm. A written account of the journey will be published in the Independent on Sunday magazine the next day.

SUDAN UPDATE is an international media review, published twice monthly, recording news and comment on Sudanese affairs from all quarters to promote dialogue and education. Reports quoted in SUDAN UPDATE represent a variety of published sources, often contradictory, and do not represent the views of the editorial board. Readers should always refer to the original sources for complete versions. Information added by the editors is signalled by square parentheses [SU]. SUDAN UPDATE can accept no responsibility for the truth or accuracy of the original reports nor for any claim for defamation or infringement of copyright arising out of their publication. As a non-profit-making body with minimal resources, we welcome donations and offers of assistance.
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Date: Fri, 21 Jul 1995 23:27:35 BST
From: Peter Verney sudanupdate@GN.APC.ORG
Subject: Sudan Update Vol.6 No.11

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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