Sudan Update Vol 10 No 3 (21 Feb 99)

Sudan Update Vol 10 No 3 (21 Feb 99)

Sudan Update Volume 10 Number 3 (part 1 of 2) 3 Feb 1999 UN appeal / Garang in Tripoli / EU visit / Darfur / DDT / Slavery /Air strike? + + + + more


MILITIAS ORDERED OUT OF JUBA: The government has ordered all pro-government armed factions to leave Juba after six militiamen were killed and several were wounded in a weekend grenade attack, reported Reuter on 12 January. Bahr al-Jebel Governor Henry Jada said that a shootout on 11 January between two rival factions also contributed to the government's decision. "The decision is now being implemented and some of the groups have been sent to the eastern and western banks of the river Nile," Jada told Reuters by telephone from Juba. He said unidentified attackers had hurled the grenade while Murle faction members were partying at their camp house late on 10 January. The Murle militia belongs to the Southern Sudan Defence Force (SSDF). Jada said the government had not arrested anyone but it suspected members of a rival faction headed by Riek Machar. Jada said Machar's group had terrified residents in Juba when it exchanged fire with another SSDF faction on 11 January. "We had to send people with megaphones to the streets to tell them to return as the situation is now calm," he added. According to AFP on 15 January, Maj-Gen Adam Hamid Musa, the commander of the Equatoria military area, denied reports that anyone was killed. He told Al-Rai al-Aam a number of people were injured by light weapons fire before government troops contained the situation. (AFP / al-Rai al-Aam 15/Jan/99 ; Reuter 12/Jan/99)

SPLITS FROM PRO-GOVERNMENT COALITION: Militia leader Gatwich Gatkouth told Reuter on 21 January his group had pulled out of the South Sudan Defence Force coalition of former rebels due to differences with its leader Riek Machar. `Speaking by telephone from Juba he said he had formed the SSDF-2. "Machar has no respect for law and justice," he said. "I sent Machar a letter last month telling him I will fight independently." `Gatkouth accused Machar, a former rebel leader who is now a senior state official in the war-torn south, of attacking his home in Juba this month, killing 10 people. `"Machar lost eight persons while I lost two. I had to defend myself," he said. He also charged Machar with killing his brother and bodyguard last year, and then shielding the two men charged with staging the attack. `"There have been nothing but hostilities between my men and Machar's since I decided to split," Gatkouth said. "On December 20 [1998], Machar sent a team to Juba to assassinate me but failed." `Gatkouth said half of the SSDF in Juba had joined his faction. He did not give an exact figure but observers say there are about 3,000 SSDF soldiers stationed in the town.' (Reuter 21/Jan/99)

KAJOKAJI HOSPITAL HIT: Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said the Sudanese government dropped five bombs on or by its hospital compound in Kajo Keji in Western Equatoria Province on 13 January, destroying the immunisation block and causing extensive damage to surgical and outpatient departments. There were no casualties. The raid follows the systematic bombing of four other civilian hospitals in the Equatoria region in the last month and a half, MSF said in a statement. "This is a deplorable act which clearly targets civilians and medical assistance to the civilian population," said Ettore Larici, the head of MSF's mission in south Sudan. "MSF questions whether this is a deliberate policy of the government of Sudan to target civilian populations and hospitals." MSF said the hospital served 90,000 people, with half of its 60 beds reserved for children. (Reuter 14/Jan/99)

YEI BOMBED: A Sudan air force plane dropped 10 bombs on the rebel-held town of Yei on 24 January. According to the SPLA, the bombs narrowly missed the local hospital, but killed two women and a four-year-old child. (Reuter 24/Jan/99)

CHUKUDUM SHOOT-OUT: The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) compound in Chukudum, south Sudan, was reportedly burnt and looted on January 16 and 17 while two local military factions spent three days fighting nearby. The UN helped evacuate 14 expatriate ADRA staff to Lokichokkio, after the staff spent three days hiding. "While bullets from the warring factions flew through Chukudum and the surrounding hills, ADRA staff hid in a roofed bomb shelter, bullets continuing to whiz over their heads," reports Robin Willison, ADRA South Sudan project director and acting country director. "There was no food or water except when someone was brave enough to venture out for a few minutes, at peril to their lives." Several of ADRA's six vehicles may have been removed. "I'm not sure what is going to happen with these vehicles or to our compound," says Willison, "but I expect it will be a few more weeks before the UN goes in to check on the situation and give our employees the approval to go back to work. This emergency occurred in a location where there was previously little insecurity." ADRA is a member of the UN/OLS consortium. It has been operating a US$3m USAID-funded child survival and veterinary health care project. A further US$238,000 provided by the Dutch Government is enabling ADRA's team to renovate 38 water pumps. (Africa News Service / Adventist Press Service 28/Jan/99)


"ILL-INTENTIONED PERSONS" BLAMED: `Rapporteur of the Consultative Human Rights Council Dr Ibrahim Al-Mufti pointed out that all the national and foreign circles affirmed after investigation the absence of slavery practices in Sudan,' says the Sudan News Agency. `Responding to allegations ... by the British Baroness Cox..., Dr Al-Mufti explained that the thing happened was

related to abduction of children during armed conflicts between Rezeigat and Messairiya tribes on the one hand and Dinka tribe on the other... `He said that these facts had been asserted by the Dinka chieftains in the presence of an ambassador of a Western country accredited to Khartoum. Dr al-Mufti told SUNA that armed conflicts on pastures and water between tribes remained existing since hundreds of years. He said that the outlaws were responsible for aggravating these conflicts in the past years, referring to the atrocities which had been perpetrated by the outlaws against Rezeigat and Messairiya tribes and looting of thousands of cattle, killing and abduction of women and children. `He said that Baroness Cox tended to circulate false allegations on slavery and abduction of Dinka children after she failed to disseminate allegations on oppression of Christians in Sudan. `He said that some ill-intentioned persons had kidnapped Dinka children to bring them to Baroness Cox at rebel-held areas to say that she had freed them at the cost of 50 dollars for one child. Dr Al-Mufti said that the Baroness has been refusing to define the identity of the persons who abduct the Dinka children so as to prevent taking legal measures against them. `He said that the current campaign being staged by Baroness Cox is aimed at mislead the new special rapporteur on human rights who is expected to visit Sudan shortly and to divert his attention from the great constitutional developments which are taking place in the country, especially in the fields of political association and the freedoms of expression, press and belief. `The Rapporteur of the Consultative Human Rights Council affirmed Sudan government keenness to cooperate with the special human rights rapporteur so as to refute the false allegations...' (SUNA 31/Jan/99)

GOVERNMENT INVESTIGATOR DENIES SLAVERY: Ali Ahmed Al-Nasry, head of a government committee set up in 1995 to investigate claims that the slave trade was being practised in Sudan, has strongly denied the existence of slavery on territory held by pro-Khartoum forces. He dismissed reports by Swiss aid agency Christian Solidarity International (CSI) which on 28 January said it has "bought back" a total of 5,066 slaves over the last four years. Nasry's statements were published in Al-Rai al-Aam on 31 January. `CSI said in Geneva that it paid 50 dollars each for the freedom of some 1,050 people, mainly women and children, who were released earlier this month in Bahr-al-Ghazal province, says Agence France Presse. `"Those CSI allegations are related to areas under the [Sudan People's Liberation Army - SPLA]," Al-Nasry said. "If there is a slavery trade in those areas, the rebel movement is to blame." `Al-Nasry said his own committee had found that people considered to be slaves by CSI - which had for its part repeated an appeal for action to the United Nations - were prisoners of war taken in fighting between local tribes. `Such captives were usually liberated on payment of a ransom by their own people or by the government through its Zakat, or Islamic tax, office, Al-Nasry said. He also criticised CSI for entering Sudan "by the back door without obtaining an entry visa". `CSI said it paid Arab traders who find the slaves in the north, then bring them back to the south. The agency added that it estimated that thousands of people had been abducted during raids by pro-governmental militias in the south. They are reportedly sold into slavery in the north or enlisted... `Witnesses among those freed spoke of physical and psychological ill-treatment, including cut throats, excision, death threats, forced conversions to Islam and beatings, [CSI] reported. `The organization works under the terms of 1990 peace accords reached between Sudanese Arabs and members of the Dinka community, which called on the Arabs to help Dinkas recover women and children sold into slavery.' (AFP 31/Jan/99)


TRIAL OF ALLEGED SABOTEURS: Amnesty International on December 18 said the number of men accused of plotting explosions in Khartoum on 29-30 July 1998 has now risen to 26. All but three are apparently Southerners. Fr Hilary Boma, 57, accused as ringleader, is the chancellor of the archdiocese of Khartoum. An outspoken critic of the government, he has been arrested and questioned by the authorities on many previous occasions. Fr Boma was arrested at gunpoint in St Matthew's Cathedral on 1 August and held incommunicado. The other arrested priest, Fr Lino Sebit, was at one stage brought into the presence of Fr Boma "looking bruised and dishevelled". Seeing him thus, Fr Boma is reported to have made a confession "to prevent his colleague from being beaten further". The accused were not granted defence lawyers until 5 October, the day their trial opened. A list of proposed defence lawyers was presented to the judges, who rejected five of them, including the human rights lawyer Ghazi Sulayman. The team of 10 lawyers deemed eligible by the court is led by former vice-president Abel Alier. They were given access to 19 of the defendants for the first time on 6 October and reported that every one of them said they confessed under torture or other forms of duress. The lawyers were refused permission to see Fr Boma until 12 October, just one day before the second day of the trial. On 13 October, all but one of the defendants retracted their confessions, saying they had been extracted by means of torture. The prosecution produced medical reports said to have been made before the confessions, recording that the men had then shown no signs of ill-treatment. However, the identity of the person who signed the reports as the examining physician was not revealed. The court persisted in regarding the disavowed confessions as genuine and constituting the basis of the case. The court's position amounts to a presumption of guilt. This violates Article 32 of Sudan's new constitution, in which an accused person is presumed innocent until found guilty. Despite the allegations of torture by the accused, the court took no steps to investigate, thereby violating international law. If found guilty, the defendants face the death penalty without the right of appeal. President Bashir said on 4 July that under such circumstances they would be hanged and crucified. AI concludes that the military court failed to meet international standards, casting doubt over the Sudanese government's commitment to constitutionality and the rule of law. AI "believes that the trial is unfair". On 13 October, the defence lawyers submitted that the case should be heard by a civil court, not a military one. The submission was rejected. Since then, however, on 10 and 28 December 1998, the Supreme Court suspended the trial, saying it was considering a transfer of the case to the civil courts. (AI 18/Dec/98 / All Africa News Agency 11/Jan/99; SUNA 28/Dec/99)


U.N. LAUNCHING SUDAN APPEAL: `United Nations humanitarian agencies are preparing to launch one of the world's largest aid appeals,' reported the BBC on 15 January. It is expected that the appeal for Sudan for the coming year will be in the region of $180m. `The UN calculates that more than 2.5 million people will continue to need support in southern Sudan for most of this year. `Tom Eric Vraalsen, the UN special envoy on humanitarian affairs in Sudan, says he also wants neighbouring

countries and donors to support the humanitarian effort with a viable political process aimed at securing a negotiated peace. `As humanitarian agencies prepare their appeal, agreed cease-fires between the Sudan Government and the main rebel group are due to expire. International efforts are concentrating on arranging a three-month extension of the truce, which applies only to famine areas.' Mr Vraalsen has met both government officials and representatives of the SPLA to secure cease-fire extensions. John Garang has been reported as saying he is prepared to extend the truce to facilitate essential relief efforts. He told reporters in Cairo, where he was meeting the Egyptian Foreign Minister: "We have a commitment that if there are urgent humanitarian needs in southern Sudan we will renew the cease-fire." In Khartoum, the Ministry of Foreign Relations said talks were continuing. Fighting has continued outside the agreed cease-fire areas. (BBC 15/Jan/99)

I.G.A.D. PARTNERS VISIT AFFLICTED AREAS: Norwegian Minister for International Cooperation and Human Rights, Helda Johnson, and Italian state minister for foreign affairs, Reno Serri told journalists in Khartoum they were appalled by the scale of suffering in Bahr al-Ghazal, where more than 60,000 people, mostly non-combatants, died of famine-related diseases last year. They were in Sudan on behalf of the Friends of IGAD (Inter-Governmental Authority on Development) which comprises Norway, Italy, the United States, Canada, the Netherlands and Britain. Johnson made a four-day visit to Wau, and Serri visited `camps around Khartoum that house some of the thousands of Southerners displaced by the fighting,' notes Reuter. Johnson and Serri said they want the [newly agreed] local cease-fire to be extended automatically once it expires after three months. But, says InterPress Service, `Foreign Minister Mustafa Ismail said, "We demand comprehensive cease-fire not partial cease-fire," warning that Khartoum "will not accept any partial cease-fire again." He also said the Sudanese government has no objection to the idea of international observers to monitor the proposed "comprehensive" cease-fire.' "We proposed in Rome last year to allow the international observers to monitor the cease-fire," he said. "But the SPLA is opposed to it." Johnson and Seri said they would meet Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi and his foreign minister Bonaya Godana in Nairobi and would meet SPLA representatives in the Kenyan capital to discuss Khartoum's cease-fire plan. (Reuter 24/Jan/99, IPS 27/Jan)


UMMA OFFSHOOT REGISTERS: A group using the name of the Umma Party has registered under the new political association law, Khartoum newspapers said on 12 January. A Sudan opposition spokesman said the registered group was an offshoot of the mainstream Umma party, which remained firmly opposed to the Islamist government. The registration appeared to support opposition charges that al-Bashir's government was trying to divide its opponents by sponsoring front parties or individuals. The splinter group is led by a Khartoum University lecturer and a public relations official with the Ansar, a religious sect from which the Umma Party draws most of its support. He was a reporter with the Umma newspaper, the party's mouthpiece when it was in power from 1986 to 1989. (al-Anbaa / Reuter 12/Jan/99)

WHAT'S IN A NAME? Opposition parties have stated that they will go to court to recover their names, assumed by newly registered movements close to the regime. Abdel Meguid Imam, a former chief public prosecutor and chairman of the outlawed National Congress Party (NCP), told a press conference that it would go to the constitutional court in coming days to lodge a formal objection to the use of the party's name by the new ruling National Congress party. (AFP 12/Jan/99)

"SYSTEM WON'T WORK": Siddek Sidahmed Khalil, who this week applied for registration of his International People's Friendship party, told al-Usbu newspaper that new legislation allowing political associations was "a rope entwined around democracy." The system "will not work without the participation of the Umma and the Democratic Unionist parties," he said. Meanwhile Ali Mahmoud Hassanein, a senior DUP official, accused the government of seeking to establish "scores of weak and minor parties to move around the authority." (AFP 9/Jan/99)

SOUTHERN FRONT BECOMES PARTY: After a reportedly stormy meeting, members of the United Democratic Salvation Front (UDSF) reached a unanimous decision to register their political front as an independent party, under the leadership of Assistant President Riek Machar, al-Rai al-Aam said on 8 January. The USDF Secretary-general, Gabriel Yual, said that the front would go to the political associations registrar in the next few days. Yual was also said the new party would " maintain its alliance with the National Congress", adding that the formation of an independent party would "not harm the alliance between the Southerners and the Islamic movement." On 23 January the United Democratic Salvation Front (UDSF) became the 17th group to register. The UDSF is dominated by local government officials from the 10 states in the south, according to Reuter, which adds, `Analysts said the UDSF was expected to be a popular party in southern Sudan because it wants southern self-determination through an internationally supervised referendum.' (al-Rai al-Aam/AFP 8/Jan/99 Reuter 23/Jan/99)

FARTAK SAYS RIEK SHOULD QUIT: Assistant president Riek Machar and other politicians who left the ruling National Congress (NC) to form their own party should quit their government jobs, Ali Temim Fartak, a top NC member, told Al Rai al-Aam. "Quitting the National Congress implies lack of trust in the NC leadership which is also the government's leadership," he said. Machar was announced as the leader of the forthcoming United Democratic Salvation Front Party (UDSFP) and is due to resign from the NC. The UDSFP will also include a number of governors of southern states, ministers and members of the South Sudan Coordination Council, a temporary governing body which Machar chairs. For Fartak, this was "a grave development that requires of Dr Machar to resign his constitutional offices to allow the president of the republic to appoint a suitable replacement, as the president implements the government as well as the NC policies." A spokesman for the new party insisted it would remain allied to the NC and that it was not overtly separatist, pointing out that the political future of southern Sudan would be decided by a referendum in 2001. (AFP 24/Jan/99)

TURABI "NOT AMBITIOUS": "I am not ambitious for any executive position especially as I will be 70 in two years," the pro-government Akhbar al-Yom quotes Hassan al-Turabi as saying. "Those who speak of Dr al-Turabi being the next president are nonsensical." The government would not to appoint anyone over the age of 60 to a constitutional post. "We have decided to leave power to the youth and we aim by all means to renew strength," he said.

Turabi had resigned last month as speaker to focus on running the ruling National Congress party, but the house later reinstated him. President al-Bashir's term in office ends in 2002, and analysts said last month that they believed Turabi could run for president. Turabi denied reports of any power struggle or differences between him and Bashir. (Reuter 10/Jan/99)

NUBA-BASED PARTY REGISTERS: The Sudanese National Party (SNP) of veteran Nuba politician Reverend Philip Gabboush on 11 January became the 11th political party to register since the political association law took effect on January 1, according to Sudan TV. The SNP could dominate voting among the one million-strong Nuba community in Southern Kordofan, but is unlikely to do well outside it, analysts said. Opposition figures have questioned the neutrality of the government-named electoral commission or say the army would force people in areas it controls to vote for the National Congress. (Reuter / Sudan TV 11/Jan/99)

AMBITION OUTSTRIPS FINANCE: `But some of the independent parties will probably flounder due to lack of funds. One aspiring party leader could not even come up with 9,000 pounds ($3.8) to pay for registration forms. Registration costs at least five million pounds and parties must finance themselves.' (Reuter 11/Jan/99)


ANSAR LEADERS `ARRESTED IN SINGA': `Sudanese Victims of Torture Group (SVTG) has received confirmation that El Sheikh Abdel Rahman El Amin and Abdel Rahman Mattar, leaders of the Ansar sect in Singa, Blue Nile Province and Umma Party members were arrested on 7 January 1999. The two men were arrested after the Ansar organised celebrations commemorating Badar el Kubra (an ancient Islamic battle victory). Since then they have been held without charge or trial in a detention centre in Singa town.' (SVTG 19/Jan/99)

"MARTYRS' FAMILIES" UNDER PRESSURE: `Sudan Human Rights Organization (SHRO-Cairo) has received information that the Sudanese security summoned on 9 January 1999 Ms Nafisa al-Milaik and Ms Alia Karrar and forced them to sign up on an undertaking not to participate in any activities to commemorate the execution without trial of 28 army officers in Ramadan 1990. `On 11 January 1999, Ms Khalda Elsayed was detained from her home in Khartoum North and was released later on bail awaiting trial today, 13 January 1999. Ms Elsayed has been accused of coordinating the peaceful demonstration of the Martyrs Families Organization ... on 10 January 1999 in Khartoum North.' (SHRO-Cairo [Fax: 202-404 5254] 13/Jan/99)

STUDENT OPPONENTS `TERRORISED'- S.H.R.O: The government is encouraging its supporters `to terrorize opponent students in the universities by organized aggression and intimidation,' says the Sudan Human Rights Organization (Cairo Branch). In Kassala, after losing the second term election of the Students Union, regime supporters armed with iron bars and pistols attacked the celebrating gatherings of the opposition groups. Among those seriously wounded was Isam Awad Ibrahim, 4th year medical student, with a fracture of his left heel joint. Regime supporters `later tried to attack him while admitted to hospital!'. On September 4, 1998 while Ibrahim was returning from an internal medical examination, he was attacked by three students, suffering multiple injuries confirmed by a medical report. He raised a police case, but in court, `he found himself turning into a defendant before a security element instead of a victim. He was, ironically, convicted and then sentenced one month imprisonment and fined 5.000 Sudanese pounds!!' At Gezira University, students protesting at the extrajudicial killing of student Mohamed Abdel Salam Babikir (tortured in detention in August 1998) were attacked. Osama Ibrahim, a 3rd year agriculture student, was among the injured. Some students were later forcibly prevented from attending their exams and as a result have lost their educational year. (SHRO-Cairo 8/Jan/99)


TOP-LEVEL DEBATE ON DARFUR CLASH: On 24 January Omdurman Radio said the National Defence and Security Council, one of Sudan's top policy-making bodies, had discussed the clash between nomads and Mesalit tribesmen near Geneina on the border with Chad. Defence Minister Ibrahim Suleiman and Interior Minister Abdel Rahim Mohamad Hussein have gone to the Tabarik area of Darfur. The government says five people died: al-Rai al-Am newspaper said more than 20 had been killed. Gunmen attacked nomad chiefs on their way to negotiate with farmers. Farmers in the area had complained that the nomads' camels were encroaching on their fields; some of the gunmen had been arrested. Two senior tribal officials and a local official belonging to the ruling National Congress party were killed, the newspaper said. (Reuter / Radio Omdurman 24/Jan/99)

GOVERNMENT TAKES OVER WESTERN DARFUR: On 1 February Radio Omdurman said President al-Bashir had withdrawn the public order powers of the Western Darfur state government and put his own representative in charge. The government had said at least five people died in clashes over grazing rights between nomads and farmers in an area near the state capital Geneina, some 1,000km W of Khartoum, on 19 January this year. The private al-Rai al-Aam daily last month quoted a local villager and security officials as saying more than 80 people were killed and 36 injured in the clashes. (Reuter/ Radio Omdurman 1/Feb/99)


GOVERNMENT ATTACK "REPULSED": SPLA spokesman Yasser Arman said from Nairobi on 12 January that government forces attacked SPLA positions in the Gammam region in southern Blue Nile province. "Our forces repulsed the attack," Arman said, adding that among the 48 regular troops killed were the commander of the attacking division, Gen Abbas Fadl Abbas, and several other top officers. The SPLA took four government troops prisoner and also captured "arms and military equipment" in the fighting, which left one SPLA fighter dead and six others wounded, he said. (AFP 12/Jan/99)


SUDAN TO USE EURO INSTEAD OF DOLLAR: Sudan will use the unified European currency, the euro, in its commercial transactions instead of the US dollar. A circular signed by the Bank of Sudan's Deputy Governor, Zubair Ahmed, said all assets kept in European currencies will automatically be converted into euros. "To conduct commercial transactions in the euro will allow the country to deal directly with Europe, its biggest trade partner, without the need to deal in dollars and the administrative complications they entail," Zubair argued. He said the move will also help evade an economic embargo the US imposed in 1997. Some 38% of Sudan's exports, estimated at 750 million dollars, went to European countries in 1997. The items included

cotton, hides, chromite and fruits and vegetables. Imports from Europe during the period amounted to 1000 million dollars. Sudan's exports to the US amounted to 2.5% of the overall export in 1997. Gum Arabic, used in the production of adhesives and in the manufacture of soft drinks and sweets, is Sudan's chief export to the United States. An outcry from American gum importers forced the Clinton Administration to remove gum Arabic from the list of commodities and transactions placed on the embargo. The current buying rate for the euro is 2,760.11 pounds while the selling rate is 2,780.37. (PANA 13/Jan/99)


SUDAN UPDATE is an international media review, published twice monthly to promote dialogue and education about Sudanese current affairs. It records news and comment from a broad variety of published sources, and presents a cross-section of views which are often contradictory. No claim is made for the accuracy of individual items. They do not represent the views of the editorial group, and readers should always refer to the original sources for complete versions.

SUDAN UPDATE can accept no responsibility for the truth or accuracy of the original reports reviewed herein nor any claim for defamation or infringement of copyright arising out of their publication. Single quote marks `...' enclose source texts; double quotes "..." indicate direct speech. Information added for clarity by the editors is signalled by square parentheses [SU]. FREQUENT SOURCES: AC = Africa Confidential / AI = Amnesty International / HRA = Human Rights Watch Africa / ION = Indian Ocean Newsletter / MEI = Middle East International / MENA = Middle East News Agency (Egypt) / RSR = Republic of Sudan Radio / SEB = Sudan News (Sudan Embassy Bulletin) / SUNA = Sudan News Agency / SWB = Summary of World Broadcasts (BBC Monitoring Service)

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Snakes / Olympics / Locusts / Qadhafi - Jonglei / Dress Code / Britain Trade Fair / Malaysia / Road & Rail accidents / China loans / Dress Code


REVERSAL OVER WOMEN'S DRESS CODE: Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail denied on 7 January that Sudan would enforce a new rule requiring women visitors to cover their hair, arms and legs. "This news is completely untrue and there is nothing new in the procedure for entering Sudan," SUNA quoted him as saying. The minister was denying an announcement made on 3 January by SUNA by the Khartoum Public Order and Appearance Committee. It said women entering Sudan "should be dressed in a manner that takes into account Islamic values," and public order police would be deployed to enforce it. `Residents say most Northern Sudanese women are Moslem and comply with the rules but southern women were hostile to the new dress code and many were expected to resist it,' says Reuter. `The committee had also said that women in the private and public sectors should wear Islamic dress at work. It directed banks, companies and ministries not to serve women customers unless they were dressed in Islamic attire. It had ruled the first 15 seats in public buses be reserved for women and "all indecent expressions in means of public transport be removed and replaced with Koranic verses and the sayings of the Prophet." Ismail did not mention these other directives. `Political analysts suggest the authorities issued the directives to test local and international opinion. Sudan's government has issued previous denials concerning strict public behaviour rules. In 1996 the Social Affairs Committee in the council of Khartoum state, one of 26 in Sudan, passed very strict laws on public behaviour saying that no woman would be allowed to walk in the streets of Khartoum after 9:00pm except when accompanied by her husband or close relative. `It was strongly criticised by many people in Sudan and days later authorities denied it had been issued.' (Reuter 7/Jan/99, SUNA 3,7/Jan/99)


UPPER NILE FARMERS `FIGHTING LOCUSTS': Locusts have swarmed in Northern Upper Nile, the grain basket of southern Sudan `which supplies food to a majority of the region's more than 6 million people,' says InterPress Service. Samani Malok, who led a delegation of farmers to Khartoum today to urge government authorities to help them, said local farmers have formed a "Farmers' Brigade" to fight the locusts which have already destroyed 450,000 tons of sorghum, millet and groundnuts. "Farmers are finding it impossible to cultivate partly because of the locusts and partly because of the civil war," he added. Malok urged the government to employ aerial spraying of pesticides that will kill the locusts. "The scale of the invasion is overwhelming," he said. Despite eyewitness reports, the state-owned Sudan Plant Protection Company, which is responsible for controlling crop pests, denies that locusts have invaded the region. "There are no reports of any threats by locusts in southern Sudan," said a company official. "(But) we shall investigate the claims and see whether they contain a grain of truth." The official ruled out sending an agricultural expert to monitor the situation, citing security problems. "(The) instability created by the rebels will make it impossible for my company to risk the lives of its officials," he said. "We will ask the farmers to leave the area, as it's unfair for civilians to risk their lives in such a situation." More than 80% of southern Sudan's population eke out a living by farming. Most of them grow millet, sorghum and groundnuts. The farmers, mostly from Renk Province, have also complained of harassment by the rebels. "The SPLA sometimes forces the members of the "Farmers' Brigade" to go with them, and some unlucky ones, who resist, are killed," said Malok, declining to give more details. Malok said that "in the past, farmers used to trap the larvae in trenches, but these trenches are now used by rebels and government troops for launching attacks on each other." The fighting has undermined the National Plant Protection's ability to check on the spread of the locusts. Unconfirmed reports say a plane used by the company to spray the insects was shot down by rebels in the 1980s. "If the locusts are not checked now, it will be a disaster next year," Malok warned. Before civil war broke out in May 1983, the insects were exterminated by ground vehicles spraying pesticide. Now, the chemicals are dispensed by farmers on foot, since most vehicles have been destroyed by mines planted by both the rebels and government forces. Most local farmers are unfamiliar with safe and effective handling of pesticides, and have urged the government to train them so that they can protect themselves from the toxic chemicals. Malok, whose education ended in 7th grade, said that many farmers have become sick from pesticide exposure. "Illnesses from pesticide poisoning which affect the farmers always goes unreported in the press," he complained. (IPS 20/Jan/99)

MINISTER DISMISSES SOUTHERN FAMINE RISK: Minister of State for Social Planning Osman Dhahawe has dismissed reports that the south is at imminent risk of famine. The situation "has been under control since the ceasefire declaration last April" he told al-Rai al-Aam. He noted, however, that fighting in Bahr al-Ghazal last year had prevented farmers from growing their crops as well as hindering humanitarian operations. Dhahawe said food aid had been delivered to Equatoria, in both rebel- and government-held areas, "despite the ongoing fighting." (AFP 22/Jan/99)


QADHAFI KEEN ON JONGLEI: Libya's Col Qadhafi is consulting with `actors involved in the construction of the Jonglei canal,' says PANA, citing the newspaper al-Chams in Tripoli. Qadhafi's interest in the project was motivated by the potential of the proposed 200km canal to enable the economic utilisation of flood water from the river Nile. (31/Jan/99 (PANA) 1/30/99 Arabic News)

GARANG IN EGYPT: SPLA leader John Garang met with Egyptian Deputy Prime Minister Yussef Wali on 14 January, a day after arriving in Cairo from Libya. Dr Garang is on a routine visit for consultations," SPLA spokesman Rashid Babikar told AFP. (AFP 14/Jan/99)

MEETINGS IN TRIPOLI: In a Qatari TV interview on 17 January Col Garang denied reports that he met Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Uthman Isma'il in Tripoli, following a series of contacts Libya held to bring together the warring parties. Garang: "I have not met the Sudanese foreign minister in Tripoli. I visited Tripoli between 8th and 11th [December] and met brother leader Col Qadhafi. My visit to Libya was very successful."

Q: However, the official Libyan media confirmed that such a meeting had taken place. What do you say about this? A: "Col Qadhafi asked me, during the talks, to meet [President] Umar al-Bashir. I told him that such a meeting should take place after consultations and arrangements. He then asked me to keep two members of the delegation [in Tripoli]. The two members are now in Tripoli, and they met the Sudanese foreign minister. So, a meeting took place, but it was not between the foreign minister and me." (SWB / Al-Jazeera satellite TV 17/Jan/99)

BRITAIN SEEKS TO RESTORE RELATIONS: Britain is pushing for the restoration of full diplomatic relations with Sudan, reports Reuter on 11 January. "We have been in contact ... to see if we can remedy the situation," Foreign Office minister Baroness Liz Symons replied to a parliamentary question. Britain withdrew its diplomats from Khartoum in August 1998, following the recall of the Sudanese ambassador to London in protest at British support for the US bombing of the El Shifa factory in Khartoum. `A Foreign Office spokeswoman said Britain had always regretted the need to close its embassy, which had been forced on it in part by fears for diplomats' safety from angry crowds in Khartoum. It had always hoped that the necessary conditions for a return to normal relations would be re-established soon, and was now discussing the matter with the Sudanese side.' (Reuter 11/Jan/99)

BRITAIN ACCUSED OF OBSTRUCTION: Sudan accused Britain of obstructing better relations with the European Union on 24 January, the day ministers from two EU member states began visits to see at first hand the impact of Sudan's civil war. "Britain has tended to adopt extreme attitudes against Sudan," Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail told SUNA. (SUNA/Reuter 24/Jan/99)

CHINA LOANS AND GRANTS EXPECTED: Meetings of the Sudanese-Chinese Ministerial Committee in early February are to be headed by Abdalla Hassan Ahmed, Minister for International Cooperation and Investment, and China's Assistant Minister for Foreign Trade and International Economic Cooperation, Mr He Xiao Wei. `It is expected that a framework agreement will be signed on the provision of the second Chinese preferential loan to the Sudan in addition to the agreement on grants provided by China to the Sudan,' says SUNA. (SUNA 31/Jan/99)

KING REPLIES TO CONGRATULATORY CABLE: President Bashir has received a cable of thanks from the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Fahd bin Abdul-Aziz of Saudi Arabia, in reply to a congratulatory cable sent by al-Bashir on the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Kingdom. (SUNA 31/Jan/99)

I.G.A.D. MEETING: State Minister at the External Relations Ministry Ali Nemeiri will head Sudan's delegation to the 18th session of IGAD Foreign Ministers, scheduled for February 6-7 in Djibouti. (SUNA 31/Jan/99)

PEOPLE'S ISLAMIC CONFERENCE POSTPONED: The Khartoum-based general secretariat of the People's Islamic Conference (PIC) has postponed a meeting of delegates from some 50 nations scheduled here next month. PIC executive manager Ahmed Al-Tijani Mohamed said the conference was indefinitely put off at the request of the Sudanese government because of "external and security considerations", Al-Rai al-Aam reported on 21 January. The PIC secretariat had received acceptance of invitations to the gathering, originally slated for February 3-5, from more than 250 people from 50 nations, he said. He said he had received a "friendly" letter in which Interior Minister Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein "has not ordered but has only requested the postponement". A senior PIC official, Yassin Omar Omam, had predicted the postponement for lack of finance, telling AFP `some two months ago that the conference would be held in February only if the funds required were made available.' ( Al-Rai al-Aam / AFP 21/Jan/99)

MALAYSIANS INVITED TO TRADE FAIR: Sudan has invited Malaysian companies to invest in the country, `where there is cheap labour and an abundance of resources,' says Asia Pulse. In Kuala Lumpur, Sudan Ambassador Omar Osman al-Hassan invited Malaysian companies to its 16th International Trade Fair between February 15-28 in Khartoum this year. The fair would exhibit products from 27 countries produced by more than 300 companies and expected some 300,000 visitors, he said. Malaysian investment in Sudan, he said, had secured a firm footing in the country's growth areas targeted under its Economic Recovery Programme, which came into effect in 1989. `Sudan's petroleum industry is envisaged to spearhead the country's economic development and to increase the nation's per capita income.' `The energy sector has become the economic backbone, aiming to meet an expected increase in demand by 11.8% this year - reaching 15,553MWh in 2010 from 167MWh now, he added. The National Electricity Corporation has also taken steps to set up factories for the production of cables and wires in order to expand Sudan's electrical network, he said. Ten Malaysian companies made investments this year, from only three last year and more than 30 were expected by the end of 1999. Malaysia's investment in Sudan had been initiated by several big companies. Tenaga Nasional had completed its feasibility studies for power generation. Petronas would export 150,000 barrels of petrol explored in Sudan a day starting in June, 1999. Bank Rakyat was involved in the development of 10,000 hectares of land for oil palm cultivation. Transport company Metrobus would produce and deliver 1,500 buses to Sudan, and operate part of Sudan's public transportation system. (Asia Pulse via COMTEX 13/Jan99)


A.I.D.S. ORPHANS: `Forbidden to be discussed openly by Sudan's Islamic fundamentalists, AIDS has increased the number of orphans who throng the streets of Khartoum,' reports InterPress Service. `John Babitis, a social worker employed by the Catholic Church in Khartoum, says most of the children come from war-torn southern Sudan and the drought-stricken western and central regions. There are an estimated 80,000 street children in the capital city. `The Catholic Church shelters some of the homeless children, and according to Babitis, out of the 52,000 children sheltered in church hostels, 10,000 are AIDS orphans. Babitis is in charge of one of the hostels with 40 children, 14 of whom are AIDS orphans. "I don't know the situation in other hostels, but I think they're all the same," he says. "It's even worse in towns like Juba ... where parents are dying in large numbers to AIDS." `The social worker says the AIDS orphans have experienced "terrifying treatment. They were abused by their relations and some were forced to do work meant for adults in return for accommodation and feeding." `I talked to one of the boys who was brought here recently by a church official. The boy, aged 13, claims he was kicked out of the house in 1995 by his uncle. `"His uncle told him that his parents died of carelessness," Babitis says. Before he was brought to the hostel in 1996, he had spent one year on the streets, eking out a living by begging. `Social workers accuse Sudan's hardline regime of not doing enough to alleviate the plight of the street children. Instead, they say, the regime spends most of its time rounding up the children, who are regarded as an "eyesore." `On big occasions, like when foreign dignitaries visit, the children are hauled off to prison. They are released only when

the celebrations are over, or after the foreign guests have left. `Most of the children, who are still recovering from the shock of losing their parents, are shy to tell their stories. Older girls and boys often only remain at the hostel for a short time, because they say they are ridiculed by their peers who are aware of how they became orphans. `The growing number of orphans has prompted the church to establish the Nile Society Project for the children in Khartoum. Mama Alomdit Nyang, a cook at the Nile Society, says it has been easier for the boys to acquire skills and find their way off the streets and even out of the hostels. `"Some of the boys are now carpenters, builders and electricians. They were sent to St Joseph Technical School in Khartoum and the talented ones have now acquired skills," she says. `But it has not been easy for girls under the Islamic regime in Sudan which restricts job opportunities for women. "It's hard for girls to start a new life after leaving the hostel. Many end up as prostitutes," Alomdit Nyang says. `Health officials say AIDS will continue to spread in the country unless policy makers recognise the danger and declare the disease a national disaster. Despite protests by Islamists, the Ministry of Health recently took an unprecedented step and published a booklet to guide health workers, students and religious groups on how to tackle the disease. `The book, "Management of Sexually Transmitted Disease," is published in both English and Arabic. `According to health workers, more than 500,000 people are living with AIDS in the sprawling city of Khartoum alone, which houses more than eight million people. More than two million of Khartoum's residents are displaced from the south.' (IPS 13/Jan/99)

D.D.T. IN MOTHERS' MILK: Dr Assim Maghrabi, a doctor of civil engineering and a leading figure in the Sudan Environment Protection Society, told PANA that `a recent study has proved the presence of DDT in [unacceptable] proportions in the milk of mothers in the Hassahisa area of the Gezira Agricultural Scheme' in Central Sudan. He said DDT was banned by the UN because it remained unchanged in the soil for a long time and could enter into humans. "DDT was proved to cause cancer, infertility and a host of other problems. It also neutralizes calcium,'' Dr. Maghrabi told PANA. "Most countries of the world have banned the use of this dangerous chemical," he said. Dr Maghrabi warned against use of chemical pesticides, fungicides and herbicides for agriculture while there are safer alternatives. "Why shouldn't farmers be provided with pyrethroids and natural products which degrade quickly and leave no traces on human health?" he queried. Dr Maghrabi lamented the fact that third world countries were an open market for such products which were banned elsewhere a long time ago. He blamed the US for exporting some banned pesticides. (PANA 24/Jan/99)


AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS' STRIKE: Air traffic controllers have threatened to stop work at all Sudanese airports from 3 February. A statement released by chairman Atia Khalafalla of the general assembly of the meteorology society said the Civil Aviation Authority owes the air controllers three billion Sudanese pounds and is delaying releasing the money. However, the Civil Aviation minister, Hamid Torein, is reported by al-Sharia al-Siyasi as having directed the Director General of Civil Aviation to pay the amount. In December 1998, Torein warned that the Civil Aviation ministry would not guarantee safety in Sudanese airspace because the ministry of finance had not given enough money to buy navigation equipment. (DPA 3/Feb/99)

TRANSPORT ACCIDENTS CLAIM 15 LIVES: Seven people were killed and 25 injured when two passenger trains collided near Abu Zeid in Western Kordofan, about 550km SW of Khartoum on 11 January, the government-owned al-Anbaa said. Omar Mohamad Nur, director general of the Railway Corporation, said the accident took place at 5am local time after one train broke down at Darus, a small station. A second train crashed into it from behind. Eight people died on the spot when a pickup truck and a lorry collided on the evening of 10 January evening in White Nile state on the road between Kosti (about 420km S of Khartoum) and Tendelti, 160km W of Kosti. (Reuter 12/Jan/99)

FIFTEEN KILLED IN ROAD ACCIDENT: Al-Wan reports that a bus travelling from Khartoum to Port Sudan was trying to overtake another vehicle when it smashed head-on into an oncoming truck at Al-Aribab, about 16km E of Wad Medani, on 10 January. Fifteen people were killed and more than 40 injured. Six of the dead had not yet been identified. The governor of Al-Gezira state, al-Sherif Ahmed Omar Badr, interrupted a meeting to help take casualties to hospital in Wad Medani. Interior Minister Maj-Gen Abdel Rahim Mohammad Hussein and the chief of police also went to inspect the site and visit the injured, the paper said. There have been many accidents on the Khartoum to Port Sudan highway, most blamed on speeding and poorly maintained vehicles. Al-Anbaa newspaper said unseasonal heavy rain had fallen in Wad Medani the day before. (Reuter / al-Wan / al-Anbaa 11/Jan/99)

RUMBEK CRASH KILLS TWO: On 10 January Father William Lominong Remijo of the Catholic Diocese of Rumbek and Mr Malul Lul were killed in an accident on the Rumbek-Wulu road, about 1,400km S of Khartoum. The men, together with others who suffered multiple injuries, were travelling in a Toyota Hilux four-wheel drive belonging to a German non-governmental organisation, Malteser. The driver was employed by the NGO. It reportedly went out of control and rolled several times on the loose-surfaced road. Those injured were taken to the Red Cross hospital at Lokichoggio, northern Kenya. Fr Remijo's body was flown on to his village in Eastern Equatoria for burial. The accident has marred the celebration mood in the Diocese of Rumbek which followed last week's ordination of Msgr Cesar Mazzolari as the bishop of the see. A member of the Dong'otono ethnic group, Fr Remijo was ordained in 1996, then posted to Diocese of Rumbek-run Blessed Josephine Bakhita Formation Centre in Kitale, Kenya. In 1997, Fr Remijo was transferred to Mapourdit in Sudan. After several months at Mapourdit, the priest, who was in his mid-thirties, was moved to Rumbek town which fell to the SPLA in April 1997. Fr Remijo's death comes hardly a year after another Rumbek diocesan priest, Fr Jervas Manyuat Deng, died on March 11 last year after a long illness. (AANA 18/Jan/99)


BAN ON DAILY NEWSPAPER: A decree was issued by Sudan's Press and Publications Council to ban the private Sudanese newspaper Al-Rai Al-a'am for two days, UPI reported on 12 January. Idris Hassan, the editor-in-chief of Al-Rai Al-a'am, linked the ban to a complaint filed by Taisier Muddathir, a leader of the Ba'ath Party in alliance with the government. The paper had published an interview with `DUP leader Ali Mahmoud Hassanain' in which his silence when asked a personal question about Muddathir was represented by ".....?". The complaints committee of the Press and Publications Council considered this "an insult to the complainant." The paper's editor-in-chief expressed regret at the ban, maintaining that the decree "gives an ugly appearance and a negative picture about the freedom of press in the Sudan after

the country had witnessed a constitutional development and an appreciated political openness." Al-Rai al-A'am's circulation is 36,000 copies. Board chair Mahjoub Urwa is a well-known publisher who used to own "Al-Sudani Al-Dawlyia" daily - banned in April 1994. (UPI Arabic 12/Jan/99)

IT COULD BE YOU? Quiz shows such as Sudan TV's "Welcome" are flourishing. Winners receive prizes ranging from a TV, radio, computer or furniture to a cash prize of up to 10 million Sudanese pounds (5000 US dollars). `The prizes are sometimes provided by the radio or TV station. But in most cases they are offered by companies seeking publicity, says PANA. `Elegantly dressed announcer Mohammed Jamal and his attractive female co-host Tamadur, beaming with smiles, receive telephone calls from all over the country and from Sudanese abroad. Before the end of the programme, the announcers ask somebody to pick one winner from the list of callers who answered their questions correctly. The lucky person from the winners of the day is then given a cash prize of 500,000 Sudanese pounds (US$ 250).' Sudan TV and national radio currently broadcast six cultural and general knowledge contests. `The fancy of Sudanese for these contests is not confined to those broadcast on the local media. They also monitor foreign TV channels for such contests. It is now common that "if you are in Abu Dhabi, and until you find a good job, you can participate in contests presented by about ten Arabic-language TV stations broadcasting in the region," for lucrative petrodollar prizes given by them. `A professor of political science at the University of Khartoum described [it] as "an urban phenomenon... It is only the financially affluent who can afford the telephone calls, you know." `"All the material needs of these people have been secured and they have leisure time to fill. That is why they are taking part in the contests," he told PANA. Another dimension, according to the professor, is that "during times of stress people look for financial solutions to real problems. Winning the prize will help you with big money." `He said a positive aspect of the contests was active public participation and awareness, and hoped it would create willingness in the public to participate in political debates on political issues.' (PANA 9/Jan/99)


OLYMPIC DELEGATE FACES EXPULSION: Gen Zein el-Abdin ["Zema"] Ahmed Abdel-Gadir, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) delegate from Sudan, faces expulsion in the Salt Lake City bribery scandal. He told Associated Press that he was "confident about responses" he gave to the IOC's questions. Abdel-Gadir is one of 13 IOC members alleged to have accepted cash payments and other favors - reportedly totaling close to $800,000 - stemming from Salt Lake's winning bid for the 2002 Winter Games. [The Salt Lake Olympic Committee records show that Mr Gadir received over $25,000 in payments that appear to be for the personal benefit of Mr Gadir and his family - SU.] (AP 24/Jan/99)


ILLEGAL HUNTERS ARRESTED: Foreign tourists have been arrested on charges of attempting to smuggle out of Sudan and across the Red Sea 100 `deer worth 50,000 dollars,' says AFP. Al-Rai al-Aam newspaper, quoting wildlife conservation administration chief Col Abdel Azeim Awad, said the tourists had been informed of a new law banning hunting game, but went on unlicensed hunting in areas north of Khartoum and in Nile River state. (al-Rai al-Aam / AFP 24/Jan/99)

SNAKES UNABLE TO CHANGE SKIN: Snakes need very low winter temperatures to shed their skins. But winter has been slow in coming in Sudan this year; temperatures are 5-10 degrees higher than normal. Travelers to Kordofan have `missed the glossy, transparent and colourful reptile skins that used to litter roads or hang on the bush branches in those areas, which are considered natural habitats of many snake species of the country,' says PANA. Snakes shed their skin to give room for accumulation of flesh and to grow bigger. The practice usually begins in November and ends in February. "Most snakes must be exposed to low temperatures to change their skins," said Dr Fathi Mohammed Ahmed el Raba'a, director of the Natural History Museum, an affiliate of the Department of Zoology, University of Khartoum. He said snakes grow fat after the rainy season, that ends in early November. Cold weather is also necessary for the development of snakes' reproductive systems. Sudan has over 100 snake species. Most - with the particular exception of the cobra family - are not poisonous. "Whatever we think about snakes, they are friends of man. They eat lots of pests like rodents and insects. Snakes must be preserved in rural areas to help clean farmlands." Sudan has pythons, the biggest known snake species in the tropics. Many pythons reach 14-16m long and 10-18cm across. Their skins can be processed. A good python leather shoe can sell as much as 100,000 dinars (about 50 dollars) in Khartoum. Python shoes are a tourist attraction and are illegally exported to Europe and Arabia. Raba'a laments that the python population of Sudan is on the decline "due to poaching." He said efforts should be made to preserve them. Farmers in Northern Sudan also fear that their wheat and mango crops, which require cold weather to flower and fruit, would be lost. However, tomatoes, the food of the poor in Sudan, that need relatively high temperatures to ripen, are currently abundant in Khartoum. Cold winds started this weekend. (PANA 10/Jan/99)


SUDAN UPDATE is an international media review, published twice monthly to promote dialogue and education about Sudanese current affairs. It records news and comment from a broad variety of published sources, and presents a cross-section of views which are often contradictory. No claim is made for the accuracy of individual items. They do not represent the views of the editorial group, and readers should always refer to the original sources for complete versions.

SUDAN UPDATE can accept no responsibility for the truth or accuracy of the original reports reviewed herein nor any claim for defamation or infringement of copyright arising out of their publication. Single quote marks `...' enclose source texts; double quotes "..." indicate direct speech. Information added for clarity by the editors is signalled by square parentheses [SU]. FREQUENT SOURCES: AC = Africa Confidential / AI = Amnesty International / HRA = Human Rights Watch Africa / ION = Indian Ocean Newsletter / MEI = Middle East International / MENA = Middle East News Agency (Egypt) / RSR = Republic of Sudan Radio / SEB = Sudan News (Sudan Embassy Bulletin) / SUNA = Sudan News Agency / SWB = Summary of World Broadcasts (BBC Monitoring Service)

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