Sudan Update Vol.6 No.14,[09/12/95]

Sudan Update Vol.6 No.14,[09/12/95]

Ethiopia accuses / Aid workers shot / Sadiq + 32 freed / Elections promised / Bread shortage / Tanzania-Uganda / Water / Oil / Trees / Minorities & Conflict / Kabli / Balabil / Yousif Bedri

ETHIOPIA SAYS SUDAN SHELTERS ASSASSINS: The Ethiopian government has accused Khartoum of sheltering three Egyptians who were allegedly involved in the attempt to assassinate Egyptian President Husni Mubarak in June. It said Khartoum had not denied that the men were on Sudanese soil, but despite behind-the-scenes attempts to resolve the situation, the Bashir government had refused to hand the men over. On 1 September Addis Ababa announced that it was taking a number of steps to show its displeasure at the Sudanese government's behaviour and to protect against its "terrorist activities". These included cutting diplomatic representation to a minimum, halting Sudan Airways and Ethiopian Airlines flights between the two capitals, and expelling Sudanese Islamic aid agencies.

The Foreign Ministry in Addis Ababa named Mustafa Hamza, Izzat Yassin and Hussein Ahmed (alias Siraji) as the three Egyptians who escaped from Ethiopia after the assault on Mubarak's motorcade on 26 June, and said they were in hiding in Sudan with the complicity of the Khartoum government. It had hitherto conducted its negotiations with Khartoum in private, and the statement was the first to link the Bashir regime directly to the attack.

Exchanges of high-level delegations and a message from President Meles Zenawi to President Bashir had not borne fruit: "Various unpublicised attempts to convince Sudan to extradite three terrorists involved in Mubarak's assassination have failed despite an existing bilateral agreement," it said.

"... In view of the fact that continuing to keep secret the identity of the country that is sheltering the terrorists would hereafter serve no purpose, it has been found timely and appropriate to identify the country in which the terrorists are to be found. The country is Sudan."

Egypt accused Sudan of complicity immediately after the attack, but the Khartoum government hailed earlier announcements by the Ethiopian authorities that the assailants were all Egyptian or "Arab" as evidence of its innocence.

But the new Foreign Ministry statement made plain: "It cannot be doubted for a moment that the responsibility for the recent strains in relations between our two countries which grew out of the assassination attempt on the life of President Mubarak falls squarely on the shoulders of the Sudanese Government, most particularly on those within the National Islamic Front known for their extremism and who at present exercise a firm grip on Sudanese Security Organs and on other vital institutions ..."

"There is no gainsaying the fact that the assassination attempt is the last and most extreme destructive act of that same extremist faction within the National Islamic Front which has little regard for the consolidation of relations between our two countries and which has also, true to form, frustrated, over the last four years, all the positive initiatives taken by Ethiopia to ensure the further enhancement of friendship between the peoples of Ethiopia and Sudan. Since these forces are still in command in Sudan, steering the state according to their whims, all the diplomatic efforts made by Ethiopia in good faith have proved to have been made in vain..."

".... Although the Government of Sudan does not deny the presence of the three terrorists on its territory, it has not shown any willingness to hand them over to Ethiopia ..."

Addis Ababa announced that Sudan must reduce its diplomatic representation in Ethiopia to four. It has closed the Sudanese consulate in Gambella, western Ethiopia, and cut its own embassy staff in Khartoum to four. Sudan Airways has been banned from flying to Addis Ababa, and Ethiopian Airways has been instructed to cease flights to Khartoum.

"Because it has been proved that the carrier known as Sudan Airways, which is the property of the Sudanese Government, has been utilised by terrorists to carry out their schemes in various ways, the dangers posed by its continued operation to and from Ethiopia cannot be in doubt..."

All non-government aid organisations linked directly or indirectly to Sudan have been ordered to cease operations, and the ministry has said that staff of the NGOs must leave within a week. All other Sudanese wishing to enter Ethiopia must now have a valid visa.

Ethiopian security forces said that 11 Egyptians took part in the attempt on Mubarak's life. A nine-man team is said to have been given the task of the assault, under the control of two others based abroad. Two of those inside Ethiopia were killed in a shoot-out during the attack, and three more died in a gun battle with Ethiopian police at their hideout in Addis Ababa. Three others were arrested and are awaiting trial.

The Ministry emphasised that the assassination attempt "directly affect[s] the Organisation of African Unity, Africa as a whole, and the international community in general. Ethiopia therefore reserves the right to raise and pursue the matter ... at all appropriate sub-regional, regional and international forums, with a view to ensuring that the appropriate and commensurate response is adopted at multilateral levels." (Reuter / BBC World Service 2/Sept/95; Ethiopian Foreign Ministry 1/Sept/95)

RELIEF AGENCY WORKERS SHOT: Two Sudanese working for Islamic organisations in Ethiopia have been shot dead by unidentified gunmen, the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry said on 4 September. The ministry named the dead as Abdallah al-Ghalli, head of the International Islamic Relief Agency, and Muhammad al-Fatih Yousif, of the World Islamic League. (Guardian / AP 5/Sept/95)

OPPOSITION ALLEGES COMPLICITY: The opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has accused the National Islamic Front of complicity in the assassination attempt on President Mubarak of Egypt. At a press conference in London held after the Khartoum government's announcement of imminent releases of political prisoners, the NDA spokesman Mubarak al- Fadil al-Mahdi attacked the government on several issues. He claimed that recent changes in the regime's line-up were "camouflage", and linked them to the need to "allow for the same policies to continue under new names". (NDA 25/Aug/95)


DOUBTS OVER RELEASES: The Sudanese National Security Council announced on 23 August 1995 that it had decided to release all political detainees within seventy-two hours. The Council stated that, "The National Salvation Revolution feels that it is no longer under any threat and that it confidently stands on solid ground."

The Sudan Human Rights Organisation in London said that it `welcomes the decision of the government. However, we would like to stress that this decision, even if fully implemented, does not spell out the end of the practice of arbitrary detention under the current regime. Article 6 of the Second Constitutional Order which was issued on 30 June 1989 provides for a state of emergency which is still in force and accordingly the Head of State or those authorised by him are invested with the power of detaining any person or persons suspected of threatening political or economic security.

`SHRO would like to call to mind that the current regime had announced a similar measure in April 1991 and had actually released at the time 299 political detainees while keeping sixty in custody. A few months after this measure, the regime re- arrested some of those it had released, and made more fresh arrests. Since then, the holding of these detainees without charge or trial continued to date. SHRO is particularly alarmed by the government's emphasis of its confidence in terms of its security considerations, as this clearly demonstrates that the regime does not conceive of a peaceful transfer of power.

`As a human rights organisation we would like to stress that under the current state of emergency and in the absence of basic freedoms and the denial of judicial independence, any seemingly positive development is very likely to be short-lived. We believe that the way out of the country's crisis is a genuine recognition of the human rights of the Sudanese, who should be able to express their free political will and who should enjoy the freedoms of thought, expression and association... ' (SHRO 25/Aug/95)


SADIQ CALLS FOR DIALOGUE: Following his release from prison on 26 August, former Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi has called for an all-embracing national conference on Sudan's political and economic problems. Urging all the country's opposition political groups to join in, he said he supported dialogue with the government of Lt-Gen al-Bashir.

He told the privately-owned Sudanese daily Akhbar al-Yom on 28 August that such a conference should try to find solutions for problems including the war in the South.

A frequent prisoner of the Bashir regime, Sadiq was detained this year on 16 May. The government said in early August that he would face trial for sedition, but freed him along with 32 other political prisoners three weeks later.

Sadiq al-Mahdi, who is 59 and was educated at the University of Oxford, is leader of the Umma Party and of the Ansar religious sect founded by his grandfather in the 19th century, notes Reuter. In his interview he rejected the idea of foreign intervention and said that he was, in principle, in favour of peaceful dialogue with the Bashir government. (Reuter 31/Aug95; Akhbar al-Yom 28/Aug/95)


US WELCOMES RELEASES: The United States embassy in Khartoum said it welcomed the release of political prisoners, which it described as "encouraging".

"Taken with President Bashir's announcement of national elections next year, it is an advance towards assuring respect for human rights and a government that will be more responsive to the wishes of the people of Sudan," an official embassy statement said. Lt-Gen al-Bashir announced presidential and parliamentary elections for next year, but did not say whether he would run. (Reuter 31/Aug/95)


TANZANIA HELPING UGANDA? The Northern Ugandan rebel "Lord's Resistance Army" (LRA) has claimed that Tanzania has sent up to 15,000 soldiers to fight alongside Ugandan government troops. The LRA Nairobi office issued a statement saying that a captured Tanzanian officer revealed the deployment before dying of his injuries. The Ugandan government, which has previously accused Sudan of aiding the LRA, rejected the claim. (VoA 31/Aug/95)


BREAD SHORTAGE: Khartoum is suffering a serious shortage of bread, the worst for several years, according to Reuter. `Bread is scarce, prices have risen and the size of loaves has been reduced,' reports Alfred Taban for Reuter. `Housewives complain loaves are so small that they cannot make sandwiches for their children to take to school.'

People are obliged to queue outside bakeries from early in the morning, or else pay exorbitant prices to street vendors. The supply of flour to the capital has been almost halved, from 18-20,000 sacks of 50kg to about 11,000 sacks per day. While the state used to provide all the flour for the bakeries at a protected price, now it only provides 60 per cent.

Akhbar al-Yom newspaper quotes Khartoum Governor Badr ad-Din Taha as saying the reason for the shortfall was that the price of wheat on the international market had risen by 30-40 per cent. `He urged bakery owners to buy the extra wheat flour from the open market,' says Reuter, which points out that the free market charges Sud 13,000 ($22) compared with the government-issue flour at Sud 8,200 ($14). Since the price per loaf is controlled, bakers have responded by reducing the size of the loaf.

In the past Sudan obtained wheat from the USA on concessionary terms or as a gift, but this has changed since Sudan's relations with the USA soured.

The self-reliance policy of the Bashir regime ("We eat what we grow") has failed to produce sufficient wheat to meet demand, and the country has had to import large quantities to make up the deficit. Last year it imported 200,000 tonnes. (Reuter / Akhbar al-Yom 31/Aug/95)


GOVERNMENT DENIES BANNING FLOUR IMPORTS: `The Ministry of Commerce issued a statement [on 9 August] denying a [previous] report in Akhbar al-Yom which said the import of flour had been banned because of extreme emergency conditions,' according to Republic of Sudan Radio. Next season's domestic wheat crop would be harvested in April, and a decision had been made to purchase it from farmers at a fixed price of Sud 140,000 per tonne, it added. (RSR/SWB 9/Aug/95)


YO-YOS AND PUPPETS: `Never has Sudan been the focus of such interest on the international oil markets,' comments Middle East International. `The share prices of Vancouver-based Arakis [Energy Corp] have raced up and down like a yo-yo, with millions of dollars' worth of stock changing hands - or at least changing paper - within minutes. What is not entirely clear is who is pulling the strings.

`The price rocketed, from around $16 to over $26 (from $4 in January) on the announcement that Arab Group International (AGI) was investing some $750m... The turmoil began after the Saudi government let it be known (though never, of course, through a public announcement) that it was not investing heavily in Sudan and that AGI's Prince Sultan [hitherto rumoured to be a grandson of Saudi Arabian heir apparent Prince Abdullah] was not a member of the inner circle.

`Inner royal family involvement had indeed seemed unlikely. King Fahd's antipathy towards the Khartoum government is deep. It is based on three main issues: the perception that the National Islamic Front government is trying to destabilise the family through its alliance with Saudi Islamists; Khartoum's Gulf War support for Iraq; and a stream of invective from Khartoum, the most famous being President Omar al-Bashir's declaration that Fahd was not a fit Guardian for the Two Holy places (Mecca and Medina).

`Encouraged by states such as Egypt and Tunisia, the Saudi government has been putting on the pressure to stop Saudi money flowing to Sudan. Nevertheless, enough money still flows in for the waters to have been sufficiently muddied when Arakis announced AGI's involvement, thus boosting the stock.

`The result has been that, while half the brokers are selling stock, the other half has been buying. This has little to do with the reality on the ground, or even in the ground. "There's a herd mentality on [Wall] Street," one New York financial source observed to MEI. "They don't seem to care that you can't get oil out of the ground nor out of the country."... (MEI 25/Aug/95)


DECLINING INCOME: `Exports - mainly cotton and gum arabic - have declined from an average $450m in the 1980s to a mere $53m in 1993-94,' reports InterPress Service Africa Bulletin. `On the other hand, Sudan's foreign debt stands at a whopping 15 billion dollars.

`The country depends heavily on remittances from its nationals abroad, but uneasy relations between Khartoum and its former Arab friends have forced about 300,000 Sudanese expatriates to return home in recent years.

`As a result, remittances have fallen from $500m in 1989 to $60m in 1994. Foreign aid has dwindled from about $800m a decade ago to about $10m last year, and is expected to decrease further to five million dollars in 1995.' (IPS Africa Bulletin 1- 15/Jul/95)


ELUSIVE BENEFITS OF `SALVATION': Louise Tunbridge writes in The Electronic Telegraph: `As Sudan's military Islamic regime enters its seventh year in power, there are growing signs that its aggressive fundamentalist agenda is making it as unpopular at home as abroad. New suburbs of opulent houses are springing up on the dusty outskirts of the capital, and roads as wide as runways are driven through shanty towns. But for the average man and woman in Africa's biggest country, an estimated 94 per cent of whom live below the poverty line, the benefits of the Islamic revolution are elusive.

`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. "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."

`But in the narrow streets of Omdurman market, ordinary Sudanese complain of rampant inflation, unaffordable commodities, high unemployment and frequent power cuts. Here, the government's proclaimed "national salvation" programme is little appreciated. "They talk and talk about Islam. The Prophet Mohammed never had a big house like theirs. We the people are left on the street waiting for something to eat," said a trader.

`Opposition figures accuse the government of corruption, including selling public assets to insiders. Citizens remark on the overnight enrichment of neighbours joining the National Islamic Front, the minority party behind the government. Business and export licences are granted to only the party faithful. Graduates say the best jobs are reserved for party zealots.

`Donald Petterson, American ambassador to Khartoum, says the regime has eradicated basic freedoms and is guilty of "widespread human rights violations". Elections this year were a sham...' (The Electronic Telegraph 31/Jul/95)

TURNING TO TREES: `When two years ago, a U.N. agency urged people on the banks of the Blue Nile to plant trees, they refused, partly because they feared it was a ploy to confiscate their farms,' reports InterPress Service. `Now, they are appealing for seedlings. Mohamed Abbas, a farmer in Horga, says the change of heart has come about because the wood and charcoal the district's roughly 5,000 people depend on for fuel has become scarce in the case of the former and expensive in the case of the latter. He says people there have now begun planting trees to replace those cut down over the years, but they need more seedlings.

`When his people, the Hallawin Arabs, migrated from the Sahara to the Blue Nile many decades ago, the area was forested, says the 56-year-old Abbas. Now the desert has caught up with Horga and people have even had to build their houses from bricks instead of wood since almost all the trees are gone. In 1993, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) proposed a community-based project which would have produced a green belt some 40 kilometres from the village. Mistrust killed the initiative. Said another farmer here: "We though it was a plan to take our land. Our leaders did not tell us about the energy crisis which is now happening. All our forests have disappeared and we have no wood for building our houses let alone wood for fuel. Now we, as farmers, are encouraging people to plants trees in compounds for use as fuelwood."

`FAO project coordinator Mohamed Gamal told IPS that the U.N. agency had proposed to the villagers of Horga to plant trees on an plot of about 14.35 hectares and had planned to distribute 55,118 seedlings to 127 farmers. "But," he said, "this was rejected simply because there were conflicts among the tribal leaders with the government over registering of (an agricultural) scheme. This indirectly affected the FAO program and we moved to the neighbouring villages of Koki and Khamsim to help the people there. The villagers also said the area where the trees were to be planted was too far from the village proper.

`"They said `Who will protect the trees from animals?' - They argued that since the area was far from the village, animals would break through the fences when the trees matured," Gamal explained. "Because of this, the FAO decided to pull out because without the people's support, you can't work in Sudan."

`Now things have changed. "When I visited the area in may this year, the people who know me said everyone in the village is struggling to get hold of the seedlings," said Gamal. He added: "The cry `Give me seedlings!' can be heard all round the FAO (branch) office in Wad Madani", the administrative capital of the central Sudanese province of Gezira, where Horga is located.

`Formerly wood collected from the surrounding trees by young Hallawin girls used to be made into charcoal for sale as far away as the capital, Khartoum, some 280 kilometres west of Horga. Now area residents buy charcoal from Koki and Khamsim and the prices have increased by about 60 percent in recent years. One elderly woman, who insisted that her name not be used, said: "The forest used to be beautiful and we really profited from it. But now the good old days are gone. When I was young, I used to collect wood and take it to market in order to support my family, but now my daughters are sleeping 24 hours. They have nothing to collect because the trees have been cut down."

`About 18.6 percent of Sudan's land area, which totals 2,376,000 square kilometres, is forest and woodland. According to UN figures for 1992, roughly 1.1 percent was lost each year in the 1980s. However, the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources here says a reforestation program begun in 1992-1993 and supported by the FAO has registered "83 percent success" and that about 28,000 hectares had been replanted by the first half of this year.

`Much of the pressure on Sudan's forests stems from the widespread use of wood and charcoal for fuel. According to World Bank figures for 1988, charcoal consumption increased from 32 million cubic meters in 1987 to 46 million cubic meters in 1988. Omer Abdel Karim El Wasila, a senior official in the state-owned Forestry Corporation, says the demand has risen in recent years as a result of higher oil prices and now more than 80 percent of Sudan's 26 million people use wood-based fuel for cooking. Sudanese forest experts predict that by the year 2000, an additional 20 million hectares of forest will be felled if the present rate of deforestation continues. To offset the loss by replanting trees in rain-fed areas, Sudan needs the equivalent of about $35 million, according to El Wasila. In the meantime, the people of Horga have set out to plant the trees they had rejected in the first place.

`Coordinator Gamal said the village was no longer on the FAO project list, "not because we don't want to help people, but because our work in Koki and Khamsin villages has encouraged the people in Horga to plant trees for their needs without our support." But he added that the FAO could still support their efforts if donors provided funds for this.' (IPS 14/Aug/95)

KABLI CONCERT AND RECORDING: The celebrated Sudanese singer and lute player Abdel Karim el Kabli is scheduled to appear in concert in London on Saturday 14 October. The venue will be Kensington Town Hall, Hornton Street, London W8 7NX, from 8pm-12pm. Tickets are 10. Kabli's first CD recording, "Limaza", recorded in Paris in May this year, will be released shortly before the concert. Details from Rags Productions - Tel: +44 (0) 171-735-8702 Fax: +44 (0) 171-735- 8743.

BALABIL - `REUNION OF NIGHTINGALES': Sudan's best-known female singing group, Balabil, performed in concert at the Odeon in Asmara, Eritrea on 22 August. The trio, who began singing professionally in 1971, were welcomed by an Eritrean audience which included President Issayas Afewerki. Eritrea Profile recalls that although their first release, "Meshena" ("We went"), `shot to the top' in 1971, in Eritrea as well as in Sudan, Balabil's public appearances have been rare in recent years. "We used to meet in person to sing for TV shows and in audio cassettes, but Asmara is the place where we got reunited on stage," remarks Hadia, who now lives in the USA. Sister Amal lives in the UAE, and Hayat in Sudan.

The concert also featured Hussein Shendi and Abdel Aziz el Mubarak, for whom `the audience clapped their hands in complete abandon. Some even went onto the pit and danced to their hearts' content, snapping their raised fingers in time, the way the Sudanese did.

`However, when the three Nightingales appeared on stage wearing traditional (highland) Eritrean costumes, the audience whistled and shouted, deeply impressed by their new look. And when Hadia punctuated her songs with a sideways movement of the neck a la Tigray, it sent a wave of enchanted feelings through the spectators...'

`.... No Eritrean who has frequented the crowded and noisy tea-shops of the 50s can possibly remain untouched by Sudanese songs. For those who are above 40, Sudanese songs have left an indelible imprint on our musical life, and the mere smell of a highly spiced and highly sweetened tea evokes memories...' says Eritrea Profile. (Eritrea Profile 26/Aug/95)


CONFLICT AND MINORITIES: The Minority Rights Group has published a 42-page

report entitled "Sudan: Conflict and Minorities". It examines the position of various minority groups in Sudan, and places them in a clear historical context. Contributors include Sara Malet Kuol, on displaced people and migrants; Dr MA Mohamed Salih, on the Nuba; Dr AbdelSalaam Sidahmed, on the Beja; AbdelSalaam Hassan, on the Copts; Dr Wendy James, on the Uduk; and Dr Douglas Johnson, on Southern Sudan and child soldiers. Peter Verney, editor of Sudan Update, wrote sections including women, politics, religion and ethnicity, and served as coordinating editor for the project.

The aim of the publication is to break away from the simplistic media portrayal of the conflict in Sudan as a battle between North and South, Islam and Christianity, and to assist moves towards peace, stability and human rights.

Sudan: Conflict and Minorities (42pp) ISBN 1-897693 65 6, available from bookshops and direct from Minority Rights Group, 379 Brixton Road, London SW9 7DE. Tel: +44 (0) 171-978-9498 Fax: +44 (0) 171-738-6265.


WATER RESOURCES AND CONFLICT IN THE MIDDLE EAST: Three main water systems, including the Nile, are examined in this rigourously researched book by a professor of geography at Israel's Haifa University. Professor Nurit Kliot examines the amount of water available in each system, how much each affected country has been using, and the codes of international law applicable to cross-border waters. Significantly for Sudanese, she `also notes that the African upstream states are not going to accept for ever the de facto domination of its water by Egypt and Sudan for ever,' according to a review in Middle East International on 9 June 1995. Her main argument is that cooperation, particularly on eliminating wasteful use, is the only way to avoid future conflict over increasing demand. (Water Resources and Conflict in the Middle East by Nurit Kliot - Routledge, London 1994, 85.00).


YOUSIF BEDRI: The pioneer of education in Sudan, Yousif Bedri, died during a visit to Tunisia on 19 July 1995. He was over eighty years old, and had been taken suddenly ill. He will be remembered especially as an advocate of education for women.

`His family founded the Ahfad system of education in the 1930s, starting with primary education and developing to the present Ahfad University,' comments Sudan Democratic Gazette. `The Ahfad schools are private and co-educational through secondary level, the university being for women only. The success of the important institutions is largely due to the life-long devotion of Yousif Bedri...' (SDG Aug/95)

Date: Wed, 6 Sep 1995 11:21:41 BST
From: Peter Verney sudanupdate@GN.APC.ORG
Subject:Sudan Update V6 No 14 (7Sept95)

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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