Sudan News & Views, (Vol. 9)

Sudan News & Views, (Vol. 9)


S U D A N : N E W S & V I E W S

Issue No 9 22 July 1995
+ 'Sudan News & Views' is an independent electronic Newsletter working +
+ to advocate peace, human rights and humanitarian aid for the Sudan. +
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+ * Editor: Dr. Yasin Miheisi * +
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In this issue:


The relations between Sudan and Egypt hit an all time low during the last 3 weeks after the Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, accused Sudan to be behind the attempt on his life which took place in Addis Ababa, June 26, 1995.

The already tense relations deteriorated rapidly into a flame war of words, exchange of accusations, incidents of border skirmishes and, recently, reciprocal physical assaults on diplomatic staff in both Khartoum and Cairo, which has now become known as the "war of embassies".

Three senior Sudanese diplomats: Deputy Ambassador, Bashir Mohamed al-Hassan, First Secretary, Abdel Azim al-Amin and Administrative Attache, Adil Bashir Hassan, had all been attacked and severely injured on Sunday 16 July in the streets of Cairo. The Sudanese authorities claimed the attackers were plainclothes police officers, while the Egyptian government denied any involvement in the attack.

The attacks came one day after six Egyptian diplomats were beaten in the streets of Khartoum by security agents and many embassy cars damaged. The Sudanese authorities had also confiscated three resthouses in Khartoum that belong to Egypt and evicted the families living there, including the family of the Egyptian military attache in Khartoum.

Following these attacks, the Sudanese government ordered 300 family members of their 50-strong embassy staff in Cairo to return home. However, 50 family members requested to remain in Cairo. The three wounded diplomats were also flown home, one on a stretcher, for treatment.

The attacks were the latest escalation in the crisis between the two countries. Twice, the Egyptian and Sudanese forces clashed in the disputed border area of Halayeb, on the Red Sea, in which three Sudanese soldiers were killed and 7 from both sides wounded. The Sudanese authorities refused an offer by Egypt to hand over the wounded soldiers, being treated in Cairo, and asked the Red Cross to handle the matter.

Other frictions included reciprocal expulsions of nationals from both countries, reduction of Sudan Airways flights to Cairo to twice weekly, instead of daily, complete banning of all cargo flights from Sudan to Egypt and the introduction of visa requirements for Sudanese nationals traveling to Egypt and residence permits for those living in Egypt, estimated at 3.5 million.

On 10 July, the Egyptian security said that they had found undeclared wireless communication equipment in the diplomatic bag that arrived from Khartoum in Cairo Airport for the Sudanese Embassy. They also said they seized a shipment from Pakistan destined to Khartoum containing forging equipment, forged ID cards and passports, fake Egyptian banknotes and stamps, bomb-making books and video tapes and military clothes.

The main target of the Egyptian officials and media verbal assault is Dr. Hassan al-Turabi, the leader of the National Islamic Front (NIF), who is widely believed to be the power behind the regime. The Egyptian official newspaper, al-Ahram, claimed that Turabi visited Geneva secretly in May for talks with Egyptian militant leader Zawahri, living in exile in Switzerland, to plan the assassination of President Mubarak. Al-Gamhouria newspaper claimed that 30 Sudanese are involved in the planning and execution of the plot. Hosni Mubarak himself named Mohamed Siraj, a Sudanese, as the mastermind of the machine-gun attack on his motorcade.

A former Sudanese intelligence officer, Col. Abdel Aziz Jaafer, claimed that Siraj is a Sudanese intelligence officer. He was quoted by an Egyptian newspaper as saying " I worked with Captain Siraj for many years, he is the right-hand man for Dr. Nafi, the head of Sudanese intelligence".

Sudanese Opposition sources in Cairo claimed that Maj. Gen. El-Fatih Erwa, security advisor to Bashir, and Mohamed Mustafa al-Dabi, Chief of military intelligence, were both in Addis Ababa 10 days before the attack. Turabi caused much heat and a strong reaction from the Egyptians by his threat to use the Nile water as a weapon against Egypt. He told Reuters on 1st of July: "We do not want to aggravate national tensions... but the water supplies come from this country. They have no underground supply...and if Sudan is provoked to interfere with water agreements, this is going to be deadly".

In response, the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Amr Mousa, warned "I urge Turabi not to play with fire and at the same time not to play with water. Sheikh Turabi should steer clear of issues and matters whose significance far exceed his own size"


The National Democratic Alliance (NDA), an umbrella organisation for Sudanese Opposition groups, had convened an important meeting in Asmara, Eriteria during the period 15-23 June 95. The meeting was attended by 11 groups including the two major parties DUP and Umma, the SPLA, the communist party, trade unions, the Sudanese Allied Forces and the Beja Congress. The meeting was hailed as significant, which succeeded in resolving long-standing disagreements among NDA members. The meeting agreed on a complete program to topple the regime and a complete agenda for the 4-year transitional period. All parties agreed to the right for self-determination for Southern Sudan. There was also basic agreement on separating religion from Sudanese politics. All parties say they are committed to multi-party democracy and respect for human rights.

Although the Sudanese government dismissed the meeting as insignificant and would only strengthen national support for the government, the army took no chances and had stepped up its security measures in the Eastern region. The official media said the US and an Arab country gave their blessing and support to the meeting. The opening session was addressed by a representative of the ruling Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF), and was attended by many foreign diplomats including the US Ambassador in Asmara.

Mubarak el-Mahdi, the newly-appointed Secretary General of the NDA, said that a radio station will start broadcasts from the SPLA-controlled areas in Southern Sudan later this month.


It was reported, last week, that the two doctors, Giuseppe Meo (Italian) and Hashim Ziyada (Sudanese), had been released after two months of detention by the Sudanese authorities. The two doctors were abducted by the Sudanese army in Pariang in Southern Sudan on 28 May 95 after the town was handed over to the government by the SPLA commander. A UN plane was sent on June 7 to the area to pick up and bring the two doctors to Khartoum for trial. When landing in Pariang, the plane was boarder by SPLA soldiers who commandeered the plane to fly to the town of Chukudum in Eastern Equatoria, under the control of the SPLA. The plane and pilot were subsequently released but three UN workers and two army intelligence officers were held by the SPLA till their release on 20 July in exchange for the release of the two doctors.

The circumstances surrounding this whole episode still remain a mystery due to the many conflicting reports.


The South African Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister, told a press conference in Johannesburg in June that his government is concerned about the number of South African mercenaries operating in some African countries. He said that thousands of mercenaries, former members of the South African army, are now operating in Angola and Sudan, as military trainers and advisors.

Earlier reports from the Nuba Mountains area in central Sudan had indicated the presence of South African commanders working with the Sudanese army during its military campaign in the area in 1992/93 in which whole villages were burned down and thousands of Nuba people had been killed or disappeared.


The Canadian company (Arakis Energy Corp.) had announced on 7 July, that it had secured a $750m financing for its oil project in Sudan. The financing was pledged by the Arab Group International, owned by the Saudi prince Sultan Bin Saud Abdallah Al Saud. The prince had been named Chairman of Arakis.

Arakis plans to build a 24-inch pipeline to the Red Sea by the end of next year to transport 100,000 bbls/day from the Greater Heglig and Unity oilfields in central Sudan, to be raised to 300,000 bbls/day by 1999.

It is worth mentioning that Arakis stock price shot up from $3.25 last year to $18.38 a share. The company, which operates a small gas project in Canada, was operating at a loss of $3.6m in 1994 and with a working capital deficiency of $611,000.


The US Administration had rejected the nomination of El-Fatih Erwa as Ambassador of Sudan to the US. The State Department based its refusal for Erwa on his responsibility for the grave incidents that took place in Juba in Southern Sudan in 1992, in which many Southern Sudanese had been killed or disappeared. Two employees of the USAID office had been executed during this time, when Erwa was security advisor to President al-Bashir and was in charge of the day-to-day running of the war in Southern Sudan.


The European Parliament, on 13 July, passed a resolution condemning the government of Sudan for its appalling human rights record. The EP urged the European Union to exert pressure for UN sanctions against Sudan including an international arms embargo. It said the aim of the sanctions would be to "bring pressure to bear on the Sudanese government to stop the massacre of its Southern population and respect human rights throughout the entire country".

On the other hand, the European Commission had approved a grant of 9 million ECU ($11.7m) for humanitarian aid to the Sudan. The money will be given to non-governmental organisations to help with programs directed to people displaced from their homes due to the civil war, both in north and southern Sudan. The grant will also support health care programs for the displaced and refugees.


[] The Minster of Finance had presented to the cabinet and the Transitional National Assembly (TNA), a transitional half-year budget to start from 1 July to 31 December 1995, as a step towards changing the existing official financial system (July-June) to a new calendar year system (Jan- Dec.).

The budget estimates the government spending during the second half of the current year as 268 billion S.P. ($415m). The Minister did not give any figure for the total revenues but referred to local revenues (204 billion S.P. eq. To $315m). The spending during the previous financial year 94/95 was 245 billion S.P. The Minister reported that the annual rate of inflation has come down to 56% in June compared to 130% last year. He predicted that it will continue falling to reach 45% by the end of the year. He also announced that the minimum wage had been increased to 6,900 S.P. ($11) per month.

[] A government financial report had shown that Sudan's total exports in the financial year 93/94, was $437.5 million. The major export commodity is oil seeds earning $130m, followed by live stock and meat with a revenue of $76.5m. Gum Arabic exports earned $72m while cotton , which used to be the major cash crop in previous years, had earned the country $53m.

The increase in gum Arabic revenues was due to higher prices and not to increase in exports. The report attributed the retreat of cotton to fourth place to the decline in international prices of cotton, in addition to the decrease in cotton cultivation in favour of wheat. The area allocated for cotton decreased from 324,000 ha in the 1980s to 119,000 ha in 1993/94, while production dropped from 1.3 million bales in 1970/71 to 295,000 bales in 1993/94. Export revenues from cotton in the 1970s used to be around $450m a year.

It should be noted that Sudan's annual oil imports are more than $500m.

[] The National Electricity Corporation had introduced a new tariff with huge increases and back- dated to the beginning of May 95. It is the second such increase in one year. Two different prices for electricity had been introduced: 14 S.P. (Sudanese Pound)/kWh during normal availability of electricity supply and 42 S.P. during shortage periods. The cost per kWh increases with consumption upto 97 S.P. Huge increases in the water tariff had also been announced in June to be paid back- dated to the beginning of May 95 also.


- The Foreign Minister, Ali Osman Taha, is again on the move; this time in a round trip to the Gulf states. His journey includes 5 countries: Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, UAE and Bahrain. It has been reported that his request to visit Kuwait had been turned down by the Kuwaitis who told him that no one is willing to receive him. The objective of the trip is to explain Sudan's view on the Egyptian-Sudanese dispute and to rally support.

- The Minister of Justice, Abdel Aziz Shiddu, told the TNA in June that hundreds of Sudanese nationals jailed in Iraq for different offences, are living in very harsh conditions. Negotiations with the Iraqi authorities resulted in an agreement to hand over 42 prisoners to serve their sentences in Khartoum. He said they were unable to bring them because the government has no cash to pay for their journey home. He said 37 prisoners refused the offer to return to Sudan, while another 56 are awaiting their cases to be resolved.

- Former US president, Jimmy Carter, had again visited Sudan last week. He wanted the Sudanese government to extend the cease-fire he had negotiated 4 months ago. It has been reported that President Bashir told him that only the SPLA had benefited from the truce and had violated the cease-fire many times. Bashir declined to extend the cease-fire. Carter flew to Kenya and Uganda to talk to the SPLA leaders and was scheduled to hold a press conference in Khartoum to announce the results of his negotiations.

- A directive was circulated to Sudan embassies in different countries instructing the ambassadors to notify all Sudanese nationals not to take satellite dishes when traveling to Sudan. The directive, signed by the General Secretary of the Ministry of Information and culture and also Chairman of the National Committee for Communication, said that Customs authorities will confiscate any satellite dish brought in by any person.

It is worth mentioning that Sudan has recently started transmission over its own satellite channel.

- 1,300 workers in the Grand Hotel in Khartoum had been served with notices terminating their employment. The 5-star hotel, built in 1942, had been leased to a Syrian company for 20 years.

- 53 prisoners had escaped from al-Damazin prison in central Sudan in June. Nine of the escapees had been recaptured and one was found dead of thirst. The General Director of Prisons made a statement in which he said that "prisons are not a priority in the government's development program due to the economic situation".

It is worth noting that most prisons in Sudan were built in the early 50s and very little or no modification or modernisation had been made since.

- Another six football players had drowned near Sennar in Central Sudan on 19 July, after their boat sank in the river Nile. Last month, the whole team, 26 players, of al-Nasr football team died in a similar incident in the area.

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Date: Sun, 23 Jul 1995 20:06:24 +0100
From: Yasin Miheisi yasin@DIRCON.CO.UK
Subject: Sudan News & Views - 9


Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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