Sudan Update Vol.6 No.13,[08/24/95]

Sudan Update Vol.6 No.13,[08/24/95]

Security changes / SSIM split / Detainee releases promised / Women prisoners / Visas needed / Buses from China / Tax-free wheat / Refugee census / Arakis oil trouble / Izzeddin Ali Amer


SECURITY SHAKE-UP: Sudan's interior minister, police commander and heads of internal and external security have been dismissed in a reshuffle involving more than a dozen changes announced on 12 August. The official news agency SUNA gave no reasons for the changes, which were announced by presidential decree and mark the 10th major reshuffle in six years. [SU sources believe it is unlikely that the dismissed men, all regarded as highly influential within the National Islamic Front, will have lost all their power. It is not clear whether the movements represent struggles within the NIF or an attempt to present a more moderate face to the outside world.]

Interior Minister and former Governor of Darfur Brigadier al-Tayeb Ibrahim Muhammad Kheir, known as Tayeb Sikha ("Iron Bar"), has apparently been demoted by transfer to the Ministry of Labour and Administrative Reform. He was replaced at the Ministry of Interior by presidential adviser Brig Bakri Hassan Saleh, who was a member of the Revolutionary Command Council until its dissolution in 1993.

Police force commander Lt-Gen Hassan Ahmad al-Siddig was replaced by Maj-Gen Abd al-Moneim Said Suleiman.

The head of external security, Nafie Ali Nafie, has been replaced by Maj-Gen Mohammad Mustafa, formerly a minister of state.

Hassan Dhahawi, the head of internal security, was replaced by former minister of state Brigadier al-Hadi Abdalla Hassan.

Among other changes, Commerce Minister Taj as-Sir Mustafa was dismissed and replaced by Muhammad Tahir Aila, formerly Minister of Tourism and Environment. (SUNA / Reuter 12/Aug/95)


PROMISE OF FREEDOM: All Sudan's political detainees, including the former Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi, would be freed within 72 hours, Republic of Sudan Radio announced on 23 August. [A week earlier, the regime had said it intended to put Sadiq al-Mahdi on trial for plotting against it.] It said the decision to free detainees "without exception" was taken at a meeting of the national security council headed by President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. No details were given of how many detainees would be involved in the amnesty. [Official statements in the past have acknowledged only a couple of dozen political detainees, although foreign diplomats and human rights organisations claim the figure is much higher. They also point out that a policy of repeated detention and release has replaced long term detention -SU.]

The Minister of Justice, Abd al-Aziz Shiddo, is reported as saying that the security council urged opposition elements abroad to "return home to contribute to security and stability in the country". He said it also reaffirmed the government's efforts to unite the Sudanese people and expressed the hope that the move would constitute "the beginning of a new page". (Reuter 23/Aug/95)


EVIDENCE OF SLAVERY: `A delegation of European and African Christians who made a clandestine visit to southern Sudan say they found evidence of large-scale slavery,' reports Gerald Butt for the Electronic Telegraph. `Representatives of Christian Solidarity International, who included Baroness Cox, flew into the remote Bahr al-Gazal area of south-western Sudan from Kenya to beat the Khartoum government's ban on foreigners visiting the region.

`In the town of Nyamllel they heard from a Muslim who sells slaves, most of them Christians, back to their families. The slaves, the trader said, were captured in armed raids, and so far he had returned 162 women and children. According to the trader, the raids are encouraged by the Sudanese government which arms militiamen in the north of the country. Some slaves are kept by their captors, others are sold.

`The CSI team was told that the railway linking Sudanese army garrisons in the north and south of the country is known locally as the "slave train". The delegation spoke to people who saw three raids... In [one] raid on the village of Sokobat, 63 women and children were taken into slavery. Of these, 49 have been returned.

`One woman described how she and her two young daughters were seized by a militiaman, taken north and put in a fenced compound with many other slaves. The woman said she was raped by her captor. Eventually her husband arrived with a dealer and bought his wife and her youngest daughter back. But her another daughter, Akec, nine, remains a slave. "My owner," the woman said, "valued Akec as a concubine and demanded more money. My husband did not have enough."

`Baroness Cox said yesterday she was "amazed and deeply disturbed by the extent to which slavery has become institutionalised and condoned by the Khartoum government".' (CSI / The Electronic Telegraph 24/Aug/95)


WOMEN PRISONERS FREED... `All women prisoners in Sudan who were jailed with their children and women who committed minor offences have been freed, a Khartoum newspaper said on 4 August. The privately-owned Akhbar al-Yom paper quoted Safiya Abdel-Rahim, head of parliament's Social Affairs Committee, as saying only extreme cases should be punished with jail.

`The paper's report followed a warning late last month by Sudan's director-general of prisons Major General al-Shaikh al- Rayah that there had been a marked deterioration in the country's jails. He said prisoners were going hungry and some were dying for lack of medical care. Financial assistance to prisons was totally inadequate, he added. There were 1,000 sick women in jail and 300 children with their imprisoned mothers, he said, and called for the release of all prisoners with children and those serving sentences shorter than six months.' (Reuter 4 Aug/95)


... BUT NOT YET: `President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has ordered the release of all women prisoners who have children, the official Sudan news agency SUNA said on 18 August. Lt-Gen al-Bashir issued the order in a speech on 17 August to the delegation that will represent Sudan at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing next month. Bashir said his government cared about women's issues because Islam honored women and made them equal to men.

`"The Sudanese woman is now standing side by side with the man in defending faith and the homeland and in assuming political, executive and legislative responsibilities," Bashir said. His amnesty for women with children comes after several calls, some from prison authorities, for their release.' (Reuter 18/Aug/95)


MASSACRE IN GANYLIEL: `The U.S. Embassy disclosed on Wednesday [23 August] that rebels massacred some 200 villagers in southern Sudan last month and called for rebel leaders to take action against those responsible,' reports AP.

`The incident occurred July 30 in the Ganyliel area of southeastern Sudan, the embassy said in a statement. It said most of the victims were civilians, more than half of them children, and that thousands were made homeless after their huts were burned.

`The statement cited sources it didn't identify as saying members of the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army attacked the villagers. It called on SPLA leaders to investigate and "take appropriate measures." It also urged the rebel movement to cooperate in peace efforts being coordinated by neighboring Kenya.' (AP 23/Aug/95)

S.S.I.M. IN TURMOIL: Several members of the South Sudan Independence Movement claimed on 14 August to have ousted Riek Machar as leader, but Riek loyalists deny the claim and say he is still in control, according to Voice of America. The group, led by John Luk Jok, told reporters in Nairobi that they had removed Riek Machar because he had not done enough to re-unify their group with the SPLA Mainstream led by John Garang. They said that he had been replaced by Commander William Nyuon Bany, says VoA. VoA notes that the two groups announced a ceasefire earlier this year and agreed to work towards reunification, signing what is known as the Lafon Declaration.

Cdr John Luk said the decision to remove Riek Machar had been made because there would have been more fighting if he remained in charge of the SSIM.

"If you leave Riek Machar to continue to lead SSIM/SSIA, there will be more fighting, more retaliations, vicious circle of violence within the Southern Sudan, making the civil population to suffer. And therefore this has to be put to an end, so that the SPLA/SPLM and SSIM/SSIA do not see themselves essentially as enemies, for they are not enemies."

`However, SSIM/A spokesman Dr David de Chand scoffed at Mr Luk Jok's claims,' says VoA. He said that Cdr Luk and his associates had been dismissed and `now frustrated', had formed a new small faction. `Aid workers say the further fragmentation of rebel groups in Southern Sudan would not only drag out the war, but could hamper relief efforts as well.' (VoA 14/Aug/95)

SPLIT OR DEFECTION? SU sources say the argument between John Luk and Riek Machar marks new depths of despair at the state of the SSIM leadership. Supporters of John Luk call it a split in the SSIM while Riek loyalists call it a defection to Garang's SPLA-Mainstream. Certainly John Luk had tried to narrow the gap between SSIM and Garang, and Riek Machar disapproved, saying that the approach amounted to flattery of Garang. The anti-Garang factions fear that Garang is burying the call for genuine Southern self-determination in his "New Sudan" pronouncements and his dealings with the Northern Sudanese National Democratic Alliance.

Rebel faction leaders were due to meet in Nairobi in August. They include Dr Lam Akol, who broke with Garang together with Riek and subsequently broke again to head his own movement in Western Upper Nile. They had been invited by veteran Southern Sudanese politician Eliaba James Surur of USAP (United Sudanese African Party) to take part in fresh reconciliation talks. (SU Aug/95)
`SUBVERSIVE' COMMANDER PARDONED: Dr Lam Akol, Chairman and C-in-C of the rump SPLA-United (Western Upper Nile), has granted a pardon to SSIM/A Cdr Peter Adwok Nyaba, who had been found guilty of subversion and sentenced to life imprisonment.

[SU understands that Dr Peter Adwok Nyaba went to Tonga in late 1994, ostensibly as an independent reporter on the relief aid needs of the town and the surrounding area for Nairobi-based aid agencies. The nature of control of the town is disputed. Dr Lam Akol's SPLA-United operates in the area, but SSIM sources claim that Lam Akol is cooperating with Khartoum, and that Tonga is effectively under government control. Nyaba went to Tonga without consulting Lam Akol, a move which aroused suspicion among Dr Akol's supporters in Tonga, and he was arrested by local commanders in the belief that he was trying to turn people against Lam Akol. They claimed to have found documents on his person which substantiated their belief that he was working to his own agenda. Nyaba is a Shilluk, as is Dr Lam Akol. Dr Lam insisted on due process of law: the matter became a military court case, and Peter Adwok was sentenced to life imprisonment after being found guilty of subversion.

The case against Peter Adwok Nyaba brought calls from Operation Lifeline Sudan for his release. Both Riek Machar and John Garang made capital of the fact that he is handicapped by a serious foot injury which had been treated in Germany, and many Southern intellectuals, including supporters of Lam Akol, also called for him to be set free. He was eventually released to Nairobi in May -SU.] (SU Jul/95)


FAX MACHINES CONFISCATED: Security forces in Khartoum have raided a number of offices and homes of Sudanese businessmen with fax machines, according to Sudan News and Views, an independent electronic mail publication. The security men were searching for cuttings from the foreign press and literature from the Sudanese opposition, which they believed was received by fax from abroad and distributed in Khartoum. Many fax machines were confiscated.

One prominent Sudanese businessman, Sidahmed Abdallah Akod, was arrested on 16 July. Although he is nearly 70 years old, he has been held in detention and SNV understands that Amnesty International has begun a campaign for his release.

SNV says that to be able to use a fax machine in Sudan it is necessary to obtain the approval of the Ministry of Commerce, a licence from the Ministry of Telecommunications and clearance from the security forces. (SNV No.10, 15/Aug/95)


OIL FLUCTUATIONS: The Canadian company Arakis claims to have completed the design for the proposed oil pipeline from central Sudan to Port Sudan, and says that construction equipment and materials are being shipped to Sudan. However, Sudanese Finance Minister Abdallah Hassan Ahmed told al-Sharq al-Awsat on 5 August that the agreement between the government and Arakis was due for renewal.

"We have an agreement with Arakis for the exploration for oil, which has expired and is awaiting a decision for renewal. The pipeline is a totally separate project. Arakis assured us that they had secured financing [for the pipeline] through a Gulf Arab company. But despite that, there are many options open to the Sudan government to implement the pipeline project and Arakis is not the sole player," the minister said.

SNV notes that in recent weeks Maj-Gen Salah Karrar, as Minister of Energy, has negotiated agreements for oil development in Sudan with Russia, China, Iraq and Iran.

Arakis' fortunes in the stock market have been fluctuating. The company's shares rose to over $22 in mid-August amid renewed optimism. Earlier worries that the financial agreement with Arab Group International (AGI) was in jeopardy had caused the share price to fall 40% in two weeks from a high of $25.6 in late July to $16.5 on 7 August. AGI, led by Saudi prince Sultan bin Saud bin Abdallah al-Saud, had promised to provide $345m by 15 September in the first step towards gaining a 40% stake in Arakis. An additional $405m had been pledged towards the construction of the pipeline. However, analysts said there were lingering doubts about the financing deal, partly because the identities of the investors in AGI are not known. Arakis said they are wealthy private investors who do not want to publicise their activities.

Arakis is due to hold a shareholders' meeting in Vancouver on 24 August to approve the financial package. The Arakis board is also expected to appoint Prince al-Saud as chairman of the company.

The most serious threat to Arakis' fortunes in Sudan, says SNV, came in the form of warnings issued separately by the SPLA and SSIM. Both rebel factions told Arakis to get out of Sudan or risk coming under attack, since its oilfield installations in Sudan will be considered as legitimate military targets by the rebel forces. The SSIM statement said the movement would `work aggressively to destroy with impunity any company seeking to develop the oil for the terrorist and Islamic fundamentalist regime in Khartoum.'

The warning had an immediate effect on share prices, and Arakis stock started to decline again. Asked whether the warnings had caused concern, Arakis chief executive officer Terry Alexander said, "No... We don't even know who these people are. We have no comment."

SNV notes that the much larger American oil company, Chevron, was forced to abandon its operations in the same oilfields in Sudan and sell its concessions and equipment after being attacked by the SPLA in 1983. (SNV No.10, 15/Aug/95; al-Sharq al- Awsat 5/Aug/95)

SHARE PRICES PLUMMET: Shares in Arakis Energy Corp dropped sharply on 21 and 22 August. They fell to a new low of around $10-$12 from a high point of nearly $26 at the beginning of August, marking a severe loss of confidence by investors in the company's $750m financing package for its oil project in Sudan. The Vancouver Stock Exchange halted trading in Arakis shares on 22 August, followed shortly afterwards by the New York-based Nasdaq exchange, where more than 5.2 million Arakis shares had changed hands that day.

Shortly before it was told to halt trading, the Arakis Energy Corp was ordered by the Vancouver Stock Exchange to clarify a news release it had issued earlier in the day concerning the nature of funding promised by the Arab Investment Group (AGI). The rapid fall in share prices was prompted by Arakis' admission that AGI would put up only $40m in cash of the anticipated $345m in equity finance, with the remainder paid in letters of credit, which might include physical assets such as pipeline and oilfield service equipment. Traders and analysts reported that they had been given the impression that the full amount would be provided in cash, although Arakis' President, Terry Alexander, said that the company had always expected only $40m in cash. The AGI chairman's business manager, Haroun Hamid Haroun, said the chairman would not be attending a special meeting on 24 August at which Arakis shareholders are expected to vote on the deal.

According to Reuter, the manager of surveillance at the Vancouver exchange was dissatisfied with Arakis' claim that its financing deal with Arab Group International had obtained preliminary approval from the exchange. The specialist Oil Daily Energy Compass quotes one broker as saying the US Nasdaq exchange had apparently already referred the company to its department that considers stock delisting.

An article in Barron's financial weekly also referred to doubts about the strength of the financing package, and may have influenced the share price. AGI was expected to purchase its stake in Arakis at $15 per share, and Reuter quotes traders as saying that the fall in Arakis share prices accelerated once they broke below that threshold. (Reuter 22/Aug/95; Oil Daily Energy Compass 22/Aug/95)


FLYING: `Saddled with foreign debts totalling 10 billion, boycotted by America as a sponsor of terrorism, and allied only with Iran and Iraq, Lt-Gen Omar el-Bashir's government defiantly promises to tap Sudan's oil and mineral riches,' according to Louise Tunbridge in The Electronic Telegraph, writing from Khartoum.

`"Oil will fly out of the Sudan tomorrow," said Hassan al-Turabi, the spiritual leader and architect of Sudan's militant Islamic policy. "We were dependent yesterday, tomorrow we will be independent."' (The Electronic Telegraph 14/Aug/95)


IRAN AND UGANDA: Iran has offered to mediate between Uganda and Sudan, according to Ugandan Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Owing Dollo, who was part of a delegation to Iran in early August led by Prime Minister Kintu Musok. (Xinhua 16/Aug/95)


NEW VISA REQUIREMENT: A five year old policy allowing nationals of Arab countries to enter Sudan without visas has been abandoned. Sudan's Foreign Ministry issued a statement on 6 August explaining that `some shortcomings have surfaced which necessitate a review of the old policy', and that Arabs and other Muslims who wish to visit Sudan will now be subject to the same visa requirements as other foreign nationals. It added that `some [unnamed] countries' had also expressed reservations about the policy.

IPS notes that the change in policy was announced shortly after Lt-Gen al-Bashir had tried to dispel fresh allegations concerning his regime's provision of support for terrorist groups from countries including Uganda and Egypt. The President said that while foreign groups were allowed into Sudan, his government did not provide training for anyone trying to destabilise other countries. Bashir denied accusations that Sudan was giving support and training to the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), an ethnically-based guerrilla organisation in northern Uganda which is fighting the government of Yoweri Museveni. He said there was no evidence to justify the allegation.

According to the Foreign Ministry, the decision to impose visa requirements across the board was intended to filter out visitors considered undesirable for health or criminal reasons. Although the ministry offered no clarification, local religious leaders have been more specific in their analysis of the `shortcomings' inherent in allowing large numbers of foreigners into the country. A spokesman for the Muslim imams spoke out at Friday prayers on 4 August against the `open-door' policy. He said undesirable cultures had been allowed to influence Sudan's people and had brought the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) into the country. `He urged true believers to turn their backs on foreigners,' according to IPS, since many of them were either criminals or bearers of diseases. (IPS 7/Aug/95)


BUSES FROM CHINA: China is to supply Sudan with 300 commuter buses in the next two years, according to PANA. The agency quotes the independent paper Al-Rai al-Akhar ("The Other Viewpoint") as saying a contract for the supply of 100 of the buses in the next four months was signed last week by Atta Manan, Minister of Finance in Khartoum State and the Economic Counsellor at the Chinese embassy in Khartoum.

`The paper did not disclose the terms of the contract but said the first consignment of 100 buses would be deployed in Khartoum province. The remainder will be shipped in the next two years. Khartoum suffers from an acute shortage of public transport. Manan described Sino-Sudanese ties as brotherly, saying they would continue to grow.' (PANA 9/Aug/95)


DRASTIC ACTION ON WHEAT: Wheat imports have been exempted from all taxes, in a move considered necessary to make up for a shortfall in local production, according to the Pan-African news agency PANA.

`The Minister of Industry, Badr ad-Din Suleiman, told the official Sudan news agency SUNA that the measures also include the liberalisation of wheat distribution and the exemption of local flour mills from all forms of taxes. The move is expected to end the rationing of bread which will henceforth be available at a price determined by the forces of supply and demand, he said. Suleiman said the new policy is meant to redress the gap in wheat supply caused by fluctuating local production. He put the country's current wheat consumption at 600,000 tons per year. Shortages of wheat have nearly doubled the domestic price of the product since April. Last week, the Minister of Agriculture, Ahmed Ali Geneif, said wheat producers will be paid the equivalent of $254 per ton in addition to a 25 percent subsidy on production costs as an incentive.

`The official al-Sudan al-Hadith newspaper has said that some 200,000 tons of wheat were imported into the country last year to meet local shortages. Sudan produced 300,000 tons of wheat last year. Figures for this year are not available. The government in 1991 vowed to produce one million tons of wheat on the irrigated farms in central and northern parts of the country. But farmers were only able to produce 800,000 tons of the crop in 1992. Since then production has continued to fall largely due to rising costs and relatively warm weather in wheat growing areas.' (PANA 9/Aug/95)


REFUGEE CENSUS PROPOSED: In a bid to clear up disputes about the number of refugees in the country between the Khartoum government, the United Nations, voluntary aid agencies and countries of origin, Sudan has proposed a refugee census. The interior minister said that Sudan hosted more than one million refugees from other African countries over the past three decades, and that 20 per cent of all African refugees (three per cent of the world refugee population) were in Sudan. (AP 12/Aug/95)

HOME FROM KENYA? 29,000 Sudanese refugees are to be repatriated from Kenya, according to an announcement by Khartoum on 27 July, but no date was given for the move. (AP 27/Jul/95)


DR IZZEDDIN ALI AMER 1924-1995: Probably the best-known senior figure in the Sudan Communist Party, Dr Izzeddin Ali Amer has died in London at the age of 72. He had been suffering from a heart condition and died at work in his Harley Street surgery on 15 June. He is survived by his American born wife Virginia and his daughter.

Dr Amer joined the Sudan Communist Party in the 1940s. Although much of his time was spent in opposition to the government of the day, he and his party played key roles in government after the civilian overthrow of the Abboud dictatorship in October 1964 and in the May 1969 coup led by Colonel Ja'afar Nimeiri.

A popular figure in his own right, he was elected as Member of Parliament for the Khartoum Talata constituency in the 1986 general election, after the uprising against Nimeiri. He easily defeated his principal opponent, one of the leaders of the National Islamic Front currently in power, and was known to the children of Khartoum Talata as "Papa Izzo".

Fifteen years earlier, in 1971, when the Communists broke with President Nimeiri, he went into exile and practised medicine in the United Kingdom. His concerns were often wider than party politics. In 1983, while still in exile, Dr Amer discovered that Nimeiri was in the process of negotiating a clandestine deal with a US-based company to ship large amounts of toxic nuclear waste to Sudan. The arrangement, which was close to completion, would have allowed the radioactive waste to be buried in the Wadi Hawar valley in northern Darfur. Wadi Hawar is the largest underground water reservoir in Africa and plays in vital role in the annual migrations of pastoralists in the Darfur region.

As a key member in the Committee to Resist American Intervention in Sudan during the Reagan administration, he launched a global campaign against the plan and used his influence among the international organisations to publicise it. He sent documents and pamphlets to environmentalists inside and outside Sudan describing the potentially disastrous hazards of the proposal, including the dangers facing the African ports en route and the irreversible pollution of the water source.

When the NIF seized power in 1989 he was an obvious target for detention and again went into hiding, escaping to Egypt by camel. In a talk at the Institute for African Alternatives in London some months later, he outlined what he saw as the role of international finance behind the "Islamist experiment" of the Bashir/Turabi regime.

Although, like most members of the Sudan Communist Party, he was unable fully to adapt to the need for political change after the fall of the Soviet Union, he was seen as a man of great personal warmth and charm, and an advocate of democracy. (PV)


Date: Wed, 6 Sep 1995 11:19:00 BST
From: Peter Verney sudanupdate@GN.APC.ORG
Subject: Sudan Update V6 No 13 (24Aug95)

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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