Sudan Update Vol 9 No 7

Sudan Update Vol 9 No 7


Conscripts shot / Air ban lifted / Equatoria / New Cabinet / Mandela / Kassala displaced / Publisher threatened / Flying eye / Red Sea malaria / Darfur / Bank

fraud / Cease-fire?


STUDENT CONSCRIPTS DIE FLEEING CAMP: `Sudanese soldiers shot and beat to death 74 student conscripts trying to flee the Ailafoon military camp just outside Khartoum on 2 April, the National Democratic Alliance said on 12 April. At least 55 others reportedly drowned when their boat capsized on the Blue Nile while they were trying to escape,' reports AP.

`The camp is 15 miles southeast of Khartoum. The government was believed to have forcibly picked up many of the men from streets and markets for training to fight insurgency in southern Sudan.

`The alliance said 261 recruits tried to escape the camp... Citing government forensic reports, the alliance said autopsies showed the men suffered "beatings with sticks, bullet wounds in the area between the stomach and chest, the spinal cord and the neck." It said its government sources conveyed the reports.

`The bodies of 12 students were handed over to their families, the alliance said, and 117 others were transported by tractor under armed escort and buried in a mass grave April 6.

`The students tried to escape after soldiers in the camp refused to allow them to go home for the [Eid al-Adha] Feast of the Sacrifice, a major Muslim holiday, an official in the opposition Umma Party's office in London told Associated Press. Only 15 students are left at the camp, where conscripts receive one meal a day and are forced to drink contaminated water, the party said.' (NDA/Umma/AP 12/Apr/98)

COMMANDER "ORDERED GUARDS TO FIRE": The conscripts had ignored the camp commander's order not to leave the camp, a member of the executive office of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Mohamed al-Muatassim Hakim, told AFP.

As the conscripts began fleeing, the commander "ordered the guards to open fire in the direction of the young people, killing about 50 of them, while 150 others threw themselves into the Nile and went missing."

In the name of the Sudanese opposition, Hakim asked the UN Security Council to investigate the massacre and called for action by international human rights organisations. (AFP 6/Apr/98)


FOCUS ON EQUATORIA: `Attention in Equatoria has shifted away from ... Juba and is now focused upon the garrison towns to the south-east,' says Sudan Democratic Gazette. Visitors ... have spoken of an SPLA mobilisation in the vicinity of Torit town... The NIF regime issued false reports on fighting around Torit during February as though preparing the ground for an eventual SPLA attack and victory. So, is the SPLA intent upon taking Torit? No one can say at the moment.

`If Torit were to fall to the SPLA this time, and an assault on the town by the guerrilla army would appear to make a lot of military sense, then the NIF regime's hold on Juba would become increasingly tenuous. Torit became one of the regime's supply posts for Juba following the SPLA's capture of Yei and the surrounding area in early 1997.' (SDG Apr/98)


MAN-MADE FAMINE THREATENS: `Sifting through soil and leaves from a dry river bed, Apot Majok searches for seeds to make gruel for her family of seven - even though some seeds are so naturally toxic they have to be boiled three times to remove the poison. Picking up a small pouch of grass seeds, Apot walks away saying: "I'll look for something else or die."

`In the vast savannah dotted with acacia and palm trees ... the looming disaster is anything but natural. The Dinka say these are the worst times since ... 1983.

`"The rains are coming in six weeks," said Dan Eiffe of Norwegian People's Aid. "These people have no seeds, no food stocks or agricultural implements and the roads will be impassable and most airstrips unusable."' (AP 9/Apr/98)

KEEPING MIND AND BODY ALIVE: At Turalei, about 110 miles north of Wau and south of the Bahr al-Arab river... Six greying Dinka men leaned on their walking sticks ... and chatted about things that have occupied their people for centuries - cows, rain, their children... They tried hard not to look too critically at each other's tattered clothes. Those with shoes were careful not to let their eyes linger on the callused feet of those without.

`But these were no ordinary Dinka tribesman. They included the head of the University of Wau, his professor colleague from the English department and two regional administrators... the first [Dinka] medical doctor ... and his cousin, an expert in rural cooperatives with degrees from universities in Britain and the USA.

`Earlier this year they had been living in relative prosperity in Wau... They had fled on 29 January shortly after the [SPLA] attacked the city... The attempt failed, but 90 % of the city's 800,000 mostly southern population fled, leaving a hard core of government troops and officials in desperate defense of south Sudan's second largest city.

`"If we had not fled we would have been suspected of collaborating with the movement (SPLA) by the Arabs and that would have been the end of us," said Francis Acok, formerly chief economic planner for Bahr al-Ghazal province...

`"The only reason that Wau did not fall was that those close to the movement left the city too early," said Acok. "This swiftly became an exodus and alerted the Arabs to an attack. They were able to reinforce."...

`Southerners often work in senior positions in the government, lured by good wages... or else by threats of jail or harm to their families. Khartoum is also quick to take advantage of differences ... between the disparate rebel forces...' (Reuter 6/Apr/98)

"KERUBINO IS NOT THE RAIN": In Turalei, a hamlet lost in the immensity of drought-hit dusty, tree-scattered plains, the villagers are waiting for sorghum seeds. All that is left to eat is fruit, and what remains of their livestock.

"We blame him [Kerubino] a lot, but what can we do? If we don't welcome him, he will go back to Khartoum," said Dominique Matiok, one of the Turalei leaders.

At nearby Pokor, Kerubino shows up with around 100 armed men. "People are scared of him," a visiting aid worker says. The rebel chief, spic-and-span in his government army general's dress uniform, reminds visiting journalists that he was one of the founders of the SPLA in 1983. Kerubino acknowledges that the region is threatened by famine, but says: "Kerubino is not the rain." ... Kerubino said he planned to launch another assault on Wau before the rains came. (AFP 6/Apr/98)

BRITAIN HELPS BAHR AL-GHAZAL: Britain said on 9 April it was giving a further 250,000 pounds ($418,000) in emergency aid to help more than four million war-displaced Sudanese. A spokeswoman for the Department for International Development said the money will go to the French Medecins sans Frontieres in Bahr al-Ghazal.

In February, Britain gave four million pounds in aid - targeted at refugees in the south as well as those living in refugee camps near Khartoum - through the United Nations. Last year Britain gave more than three million pounds of food aid to Sudan. (DFID / Reuter 9/Apr/98)

MANDELA TO VISIT SOUTH SUDAN? South African President Nelson Mandela said on 30 March he would make a four-day visit to Southern Sudan accompanied by Thabo Mbeki and Desmond Tutu, in solidarity with "our suffering brothers".

"It is the innocent who perish. It is the children, our only hope of Africa, who are dying," Mandela said. (AFD Norway 1/Apr/98)

MORE FLIGHTS ALLOWED INTO BAHR AL-GHAZAL: `On 2 April 1998 Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) welcomed a decision by the Government of Sudan to allow relief flights to resume into all areas of Bahr al-Ghazal province where 350,000 people are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance...

`The Government of Sudan suspended all flights into Bahr al-Ghazal on 4 February... The suspension was partially lifted three weeks later following the intervention of the UN Secretary General's Special Envoy for Humanitarian Affairs in the Sudan, Ambassador Robert van Schaik. The suspension was further eased in mid-March bringing the total number of cleared locations in the region to eight.

`This new clearance allows OLS agencies to fly in the month of April to more than 50 locations in Bahr al-Ghazal, and to 180 countrywide. All but five requested locations were approved. This is the highest number of approved locations since June 1997.

`The lifting of the flight suspension comes at a critical moment... WFP has only been able to cover 19 per cent of people's food requirements in Bahr al-Ghazal from February to mid-March.

`Food aid deliveries are particularly essential over the next four weeks when people are cultivating their land in preparation for the next harvest. Urgent supplies of seed and tools are needed within the next three weeks in order to cultivate before the rains arrive. If the next harvest is missed, people will be reliant on relief food for survival until August 1999...

`OLS is urging donors to contribute generously to the UN Interagency Consolidated Appeal for Sudan launched in February which seeks $109 million to meet the emergency needs of more than 4 million drought and war affected Sudanese. Funds are needed urgently to purchase food and non-food supplies and to support additional aircraft to airlift the supplies to the many locations in the region which can only be reached by air. WFP has only received $7.3 million out of a total of $58.8 million. UNICEF urgently requires $3.5 million for supplementary and therapeutic feeding, health, shelter items, seeds and tools, emergency preparedness and to maintain air operations from both Khartoum and Lokichokio... OLS, now in its 10th year of operations, remains the only official channel through which assistance can be delivered to both Government and rebel locations throughout Sudan, the transitional zone and the displaced settlements in the greater Khartoum area.' (OLS 2/Apr/98)


ITALIAN CEASE-FIRE PROPOSAL: Italian junior foreign minister Rino Serri told the press in Khartoum on 3 April that the Sudanese government had accepted an Italian proposal for a cease-fire, and Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismael called on the international community to put pressure on the rebels to agree to a halt in the fighting. On 2 April Serri said Rome would make efforts to improve relations between Sudan and its neighbours, "particularly Eritrea and Ethiopia," with which Italy has close ties. (SUNA, AFP 2,3/Apr/98)

GERMAN RECONCILIATION DRIVE: Germany is ready to contribute to efforts to reconcile the Sudanese government and opposition forces to bring peace to Sudan, German ambassador Werner Daum said on 4 April. A recent visit to Sudan by the German minister of state for foreign affairs, Helmut Schaeffer, is evidence of his country's "concern with the state of affairs and the positive political developments in Sudan," SUNA quoted the ambassador as saying.

The German envoy added that meetings between Schaeffer and Sudanese opposition leaders Mohamed Osman al-Mirghani and Sadiq al-Mahdi had been aimed at a "reconciliation of the Sudanese political forces." (SUNA / AFP 4/Apr/98)


said his government's lifting of the ban on flights was to "create a suitable atmosphere for the success of forthcoming peace negotiations" in Nairobi. `But he warned that the resumption of aid flights would be temporary, adding: "We have always reminded the United Nations that permission for delivery of relief will be for a temporary period, unless a cease-fire is agreed upon, as the rebel movement has made it a habit of launching military operations after benefiting from the delivered relief supplies."

"If the international community is genuinely concerned with continued delivery of relief to the needy people, it should strive to convince the rebel movement into accepting a cease-fire, he added. (AFP 3/Apr/98)

GARANG'S WARY SUPPORT FOR CEASE-FIRE: SPLA leader John Garang declared his support for a cease-fire "on humanitarian grounds" but "lamented that the other side uses the opportunity to re-arm and reorganise its forces," Kenya News Agency reported on 6 April. The SPLA Nairobi office told AFP `that Garang's comments were neither an acceptance nor a rejection of a cease-fire call by the Khartoum government ahead of peace talks...

`The comments came during a weekend meeting at Lokichokkio, on the Kenya-Sudan border, with representatives of the regional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development.' (KNA / AFP 6/Apr/98)


UGANDA ON BORDER ALERT: Uganda has put its troops at the northern border with Sudan on alert, New Vision reported on 1 April, to prevent Sudan-based Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels from crossing into the country. (New Vision / Xinhua 1/Apr/98)

SOUTHERN COUNCIL'S FOREIGN TOUR: The South Sudan Coordination Council will visit Egypt and possibly Nigeria and Uganda before the peace talks in Nairobi, Riek Machar said on 4 April. (SUNA, AFP 4/Apr/98)



Ali Uthman Muhammad Taha - first vice president (after Nasir plane crash). Dr Ghazi Salah al-Din Attabani - minister of culture and information. Col Muhammad al-Amin Khalifa - minister for cabinet affairs. Lt-Gen Ibrahim Suleiman Hassan - minister of defence. Maj-Gen Abd al-Rahim Muhammad Hassan - minister of the interior. Ali Muhammad Uthman Yassin - minister of justice. Ahmad Ibrahim al-Tahir - minister for federal affairs. Brig al-Tayeb Ibrahim Muhammad Kheir - minister for social planning.

`All [the above] are committed NIF members,' comments Sudan Democratic Gazette.

Lt-Gen (retd) Mahdi Babo Nimir - minister for health. Ansar background, son of the late paramount chief of the Miseriya of South Kordofan. Musa al-Makk Kur (ex animal resources minister) - director of the National Development Corporation. `This post carries with it a full cabinet position and was once an important economic agency...' Dr Lam Akol - minister of transport in the central cabinet. `Lam Akol has had to accept... Crumbs... since he was humiliatingly defeated in the contest for governorship of Upper Nile earlier this year. It was reported that he received no votes whatsoever... in spite of his confident announcements that the people of Upper Nile had called for him to stand in the contest. It is not clear... if the NIF regime was... pacifying the Shilluk leader just in case he may become useful as a trump card against Riek Machar in the future.' Joseph Malwaal - minister for animal resources. Supporter of Riek Machar. (SDG Apr/98)

MUSLIM BROTHERS' PARTY? Leading figures in the Islamic Movement are getting ready to announce the formation of a new political party, says al-Hayat, as the National Islamic Front of Hassan al-Turabi metamorphoses into the National Congress.

Al-Sadiq Abdallah Abd al-Magid, Dr al-Hibr Nur al-Daiem, Professor Jaafar Sheikh Idris [recently arrived in Khartoum] and Dr Isam al-Bashir, who will lead the new party, are hopeful of attracting well-known personalities as well as NIF members who have differences with the current leadership.

Those named include Dr Hassan Mekki, Amin Banani of the National Congress and head of Darfur representatives, Ahmed Osman Mekki, al-Tijani Abd al-Gadir, Dr al-Tayeb Zein al-Abdin, and Ibrahim al-Dussougi.

In a letter sent to the NIF leadership, Amin Banani expressed anger at being overlooked in the new National Congress. Dr Hassan Mekki criticized the Inqaz ("Salvation") apparatus and called on Hassan al-Turabi to resign and give an opportunity to the youth. (al-Hayat, trans: al-Sudan Center for Democracy, Peace, and Civil Rights 5/Apr/98)


in Sudan has urged people to reject the draft constitution. A statement to AFP said the draft law "is not an Islamic constitution because it contradicts the basic Islamic principles." It criticised the draft constitution for accepting citizenship, rather than faith, as a basis for equal rights and duties. It thus "treats a Muslim and an infidel" on an equal footing and "enables a non-Muslim to assume a public office in an Islamic state." (AFP 5/Apr/98)

SUDANESE EXPATRIATES `ABLE TO VOTE': `More than a million Sudanese citizens working abroad, mainly in Egypt and Gulf states, will be able to vote in a referendum on Sudan's draft constitution. Sudanese abroad were not allowed to vote under rules applied in last year's presidential and parliamentary election. But Election Commission chairman Abd al-Munim Zein Nahas told the independent newspaper al-Rai al-Akhar that steps to amend legislation to allow expatriates to vote had already begun. Sudanese diplomatic missions would handle the voting process.' (al-Rai al-Akhar / Reuter 3/Apr/98)

LIMITED OPPORTUNITIES FOR VOTING: The chair of the General Elections Commission, Abd al-Munim al-Zein al-Nahas, organiser of the constitution referendum, told the press that polling would begin in early May to be available for Bashir's signature by June 30. `Sudan's some 10 million registered voters would be required to cast either a green card for approval or a red card for disapproval of the draft constitution,' says AFP.

`He added that the voting would start in the southern states before the rains got heavier from late May onwards,' says Deutsche Presse-Agentur.

`Voting in the south will take place only in government-held towns. The majority of southern Sudanese living in rural areas under the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) will not take part in the exercise, which the SPLA does not recognise.

`The constitution says the national congress is the only political organisation in the country but it can have some offshoots affiliated to it to accommodate those who want to have subpolitical organisations to cater for their interests.

`Members of parliament from southern regions ... had wanted the police to be under the state governments but the constitution places the police under the federal government.

`The constitution had its credibility reduced when the technical committee that drafted it wrote a memorandum to parliament complaining that the draft submitted to the house for discussion by President Bashir had been changed by the president's office.' (AFP, DPA 31/Mar/98)

CONSTITUTION `NOTHING NEW' - S.P.L.A: The SPLA rejected the new draft constitution as offering nothing new. Its spokesman in Nairobi, John Luk, said the document failed to separate religion from the state. He said that by publishing the draft without consulting other political forces shortly before peace talks are due to resume, the government was subverting the peace process. (BBC World Service 31/Mar/98)


TROOPS TO KEEP ORDER IN DARFUR: President Bashir said he will send troops to western Sudan to maintain order. "The government will discharge its duty ... and impose the state's authority," he told a gathering of non-Arab Aringa [part of the Masalit] tribesmen on 31 March. They in turn pledged allegiance to Bashir.

`West Darfur Governor Ibrahim Yahia ... visiting Khartoum, said after briefing First Vice President Ali Uthman Muhammad Taha that the security situation "has been restored to normal, thanks to efforts by the central and state authorities,"' reports AFP.

"The culprits ... have been rounded up and stern measures have been taken against them under the declared state of emergency law," Yahia said without going into detail. He added that the villages around Geneina would be secured.

Hassan Hammad, an MP from West Darfur, accused "foreign hands" he did not identify of "fanning the dispute between the Arab and Masalit tribes." He blamed the incidents on delays in enforcing the state of emergency... A high-level delegation of the central government and the national assembly goes to western Darfur this week to investigate. (AFP 31/Mar/98)


`24,000 DISPLACED' IN KASSALA REGION - I.C.R.C: `Since the end of January, several thousand people have been displaced by artillery attacks on their villages in the Kassala region of eastern Sudan, along the Eritrean border. At the end of March the number of displaced was estimated at more than 4,750 families, comprising some 24,000 people,' reports the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

`The region ... is particularly arid, offering no possibilities for agricultural activity... landmines hidden in the ground... are having a devastating effect on the displaced population.

`The Sudanese Red Crescent, with support from the ICRC, regularly evacuates people wounded by artillery fire or landmines to the civilian and military hospitals in the towns of Kassala and Khartoum. More than 50 casualties have been treated... The hospitals have been given emergency medical assistance and dispensaries have been set up in the sites where the displaced families have settled.

`More than 100 Red Crescent volunteers have been mobilized to register the displaced people and to distribute blankets, jerrycans, kitchen sets, mosquito nets and soap. The United Nations World Food Programme is carrying out food distributions, while Oxfam is supplying clean water.

`ICRC ... in Sudan since 1978 ... is currently preparing to resume operations in the south of the country ... suspended in November 1996... Support for the Sudanese Red Crescent is one of the ICRC's traditional activities...' (ICRC / Africa News Online 8/Apr/98)

N.D.A "CHASED OUT": Army spokesman Gen Abd al-Rahman Sirr al-Khatim said on 6 April that the opposition NDA had been "chased out" of Khater, north of Gallabat on the Ethiopian border. The NDA's original attack had taken place before dawn on 3 April, according to Akhbar al-Yom.

"A full company of the rebel and treason forces, armed with machine-guns and mortars, assaulted the peaceful village of Khater," Khatim said, adding that "the villagers and the popular defence [militia] stood up to the treacherous assault and killed two enemy individuals and lost two martyrs, a man and a woman."

Khatim denied the claim by the NDA that its forces had attacked and destroyed an army base, killing 20 senior officers and soldiers. "There are no armed forces [camps] in the area," al-Khatim said, but government forces were now in "full control of the area". (Akhbar al-Yom / AFP 6/Apr/98)


EXPORTERS AND BANK OFFICIALS ARRESTED: Al-Gamhouria said on 4 April that a network of prominent exporters, bank officials and academics had been arrested. Investigations were under way to try them on charges of forging official documents relating to the payment of export proceeds, abuse of funds put up by banks to finance export operations and bribery. They had been freed on bail pending completion of enquiries. (al-Gamhouria / AFP 4/Apr/98)

PUBLISHER THREATENED BY "MAFIA": Armed men abducted the publisher of al-Rai al-Aam and warned him they would burn its offices and press if it printed more articles on "mafia" usury, the private Sudanese newspaper reported on 30 March.

`The men offered Ali Ismail Atabani a lift as he was walking to the mosque on Friday, but when he got into the car, one of the "mafia" gang put a pistol to his neck...,' says AFP.

Atabani has filed a complaint with security officials who have begun an investigation. Chief editor Abdallah Obeid also notified the press and publications council and the Sudanese Journalists Union.

`Al-Rai al-Aam earlier reported that several farmers and businessmen have been jailed for failing to repay loans at exorbitant rates of interest to money-lenders and has called for a campaign against usury.

`The paper appealed to President Bashir to intervene to curb usury and urged the legal authorities to issue laws prohibiting such practices. It has also called on usury victims to file lawsuits.' (al-Rai al-Aam / AFP 31/Mar/98)


109 DIE OF MALARIA IN RED SEA STATE: `109 persons have died out of 3,000 reported cases of malaria at Sinkat province in Red Sea state,' says Deutsche Presse-Agentur, citing al-Wan in Khartoum. `A committee formed by the state parliament has asked the government to declare a state of emergency in the area and extend assistance to contain the epidemic.

`The committee accused local authorities of sending false reports to the federal government saying that drugs and food were being provided to the patients free. It also accused the state health ministry of not making field visits in order to report correctly to the central government.

`Earlier this week the director of epidemic disease administration in the federal ministry of health, Dr Isam Galandar, said the malaria cases did not amount to an epidemic. He based the assessment on a report received from the local health authorities.' (al-Wan / DPA 28/Mar/98)

FLYING EYE HOSPITAL: `An eye hospital on board a DC-10 airliner has completed a three-week stay in Sudan during which specialists carried out scores of eye operations both inside the plane parked at Khartoum airport and in the capital's hospitals,' says AFP.

`The multi-national Orbis team's medical manager told reporters that Orbis surgeons had carried out 62 operations and treated 35 cases with laser, in addition to training more than 50 Sudanese eye doctors and a number of technicians and nurses.

`This was the eighth annual visit by the flying hospital to Sudan. Orbis's main mission is to transfer the latest medical technology to developing nations, the official said.' (AFP 26/Mar/98)

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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Sudan Update, PO Box 10, Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire HX7 6UX England Tel/Fax: +44-1422-845827 E-mail: ISSN 1352-0393

Peter Verney (


Date: Fri, 15 May 1998

From: (Peter Verney) Subject: Sudan Update Vol 9 No 7

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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