Issue No 18 Februray 1996
'Sudan News & Views' is an independent electronic Newsle tter working to advocate peace, human rights and humanitarian aid for the Sudan.
Editor: Dr. Yasin Miheisi
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In this issue:


Ninety one people aboard a Sudanese military transport plane were killed when it crashed on February 26, 40 km south of Khartoum.
The plane was flying from southern Sudan via El-Obied, carrying 102 passengers, 12 of whom got off in El-Obied and one passenger picked was picked up. The plane , Hercules C-130, lost contact with the Khartoum control tower 10 minutes before landing.
Witnesses said the plane was in flames as it went down and the wreckage and bodi es had scattered over a large area near Jabal Awliya.
The authorities ruled out sabotage and said a mechanical problem caused the cras h.
Those killed in the crash included several state ministers of Warab State in sou thern Sudan, 21 members of the armed forces, 15 police officers and many civilia ns including 14 women and all crew members. They include the following: Air Forc e Brig. Sharif Zaydan, Air Force Capt. Lu'ay Ali Fath Al-Rahman, Col Eng. Badr A bdel Gadir, Lt Technician Ali Ismail, Lt Technician Abdel Azim Mohamed Babiker, Police Gen. Sadig Awadalla salih, Mr. Abdel Nasir Nyigor, the Minister of Social Affairs in Warab State Mr. Joseph Bai, Abdel Rahman Mustafa, Salah El-Din Hussa in, Lino Gabriel Diu, Samuel Daniel, James Mat Galwak, Osman Abdel Gadir and Bru no Ali.


The US State Department ordered 25 diplomats and guards (all of its embassy staf f) to leave Khartoum because of the 'continuing concern for the safety of Americ an officials in Sudan.'
Washington also urged all American citizens living in Sudan to consider leaving at this time. US officials said they were concerned about the safety of diplomat ic personnel in Sudan who were under threat from militant Islamic groups. Offici als said they did not believe the Sudanese authorities were capable of controlli ng the groups or protecting Americans in the country. The State Department said it was not cutting diplomatic relations, but will set up a scaled-back embassy i n Nairobi to maintain contacts with Sudanese officials.
It was later revealed that the US administration had received information of imm inent operations against its embassies and diplomats in specific areas, includin g Sudan. An American source said the threats and information received by the US were specific and were so serious that the US had to withdraw all its diplomats and their families from Khartoum.
Sudanese Foreign Minister, Ali Osman Taha, said the American move was unjustifie d and was aimed at isolating Sudan in the Islamic, regional and international fo rums.
Dr. Ali El-Hag, Local Government Minister, on the other hand, told a local paper that the withdrawal of the American diplomats is purely for economic reasons. H e said the US had reduced the number of its diplomats in many countries due to e conomic problems, so this whole episode is a purely US internal matter and has n othing to do with Sudan.


In an attempt to show cooperation with the UN Security Council, Sudan asked 3 Eg yptians suspected of involvement in the assassination attempt on Egyptian Presid ent, Hosni Mubarak, to surrender within a week.
The Chief Public Prosecutor, Abdel Rahman Ibrahim, issued a statement in which h e said 'since their whereabouts are unknown to the authorities, the 3 suspects a re required to report to the nearest police station within a time limit not exce eding one week.'
Ibrahim also told a news conference in Khartoum that investigations has shown th at one of the suspects, identified by Ethiopia as Hussain Ahmed Sheet Ali, had a rrived at Khartoum airport, and had carried a Sudanese passport with the name Fa isal Lutfi Abdel Latif.
Ethiopia dismissed the move as trickery of the international community. 'Since S udan knows full well where the three gunmen are being sheltered and protected by its own security personnel, the notice issued by its prosecutor is the latest c onfirmation that Sudan is not about to comply with the request of the Security C ouncil.', said the statement.
The opposition NDA spokesman, Faroug Abu Eisa, said the steps taken so far by th e NIF government regarding the three suspects, paint a very poor and incompetent picture, which the government presents every time the rope is tightened around its neck.


Eritrea has handed the Sudanese embassy building in Asmara to the National Democ ratic Alliance (NDA - Sudanese Opposition group in exile), to use as their head office.
The NDA chairman, Mohamed Osman El-Mirghani, received the keys in a handover cer emony attended by other opposition leaders and Eritrean officials.
The NDA spokesman, Faroug Abu Eisa, said the handover means 'additional recogni tion of the NDA as the legitimate representative of the Sudanese people. It impl ies withdrawal of recognition from the NIF-government in Khartoum'. He also call ed on other countries to follow suit.
Sudan condemned Eritrea for handing over the Sudanese embassy. 'The Eritrean gov ernment decision to handover the Sudanese embassy in Asmara to groups which stic k to violence to overthrow the current government is more proof of the violation s of Afewerki's regime of international law', a Foreign Ministry statement said.
It should be recalled that the three-story building has belonged to the Sudanese government since former President Ibrahim Abboud received it as a gift from Emp eror Haile Selassie in 1960. The building has been empty since Eritrea severed r elations with Sudan in December 1994.


Fresh fighting between government troops and the SPLA had resulted in the killin g of 120 government soldiers and PDF militia, according to a statement by the SP LA. The statement said that on the 7th and 8th February, the government forces m ounted a massive attack on SPLA positions on the Kit, Labonok and Canal Mouth fr onts. The SPLA forces succeeded in foiling the attack and inflicted heavy casual ties on the government army and the supporting Popular Defence Forces (PDF).
In the kit battlefield, the army lost 35 men killed and 129 wounded. In the batt le of Labonok, the government forces lost four of their very important mujahidee n, including Osman Hassan Al-Bashir, the younger brother of President Omer Al-Ba shir. On the same front the army lost another 81 killed, most of them were membe rs of the PDF.


The international human rights organisation Amnesty International had issued two urgent actions in February on behalf of the following:
  1. Moslih Salim Said, truck driver
  2. Lt. Gen. (Retired) Ahmed al-Badawi
  3. Farah Hassan Suleiman, lawyer
  4. Atif Mohamed Idris, medical doctor
  5. Mohiadin Ali Daoud, pilot
  6. Babiker Mohamed Ghariballa, mechanic
  7. Osman Mohamed Ghariballa, mechanic
  8. al-Sir Mekki Abu Zeid, teacher
  9. Hassabu Ibrahim, trade unionist
  10. Walid Abu Seif, businessman
  11. Ahmed al-Tom
AI expressed fears that the above are facing torture following their arrest in l ate January and the first week of February. All are reported to be held incommun icado without charge or trial in an unknown location in Khartoum. They are suspe cted by the authorities of being involved in opposition political activities. AI believes that they may be prisoners of conscience, arrested for their non-viole nt political opposition to the government, and fears that they are at risk of to rture or ill-treatment.


The Vatican had accused Sudan of resorting to torture in order to extort a confe ssion from a local priest accused of plotting against the state.
The Vatican said in a press release its diplomatic representative in Khartoum had written to Social Affairs Minister to protest the torture of Father Mark Lo tede.
It said Archbishop Erwin Joseph Ender, the papal nunzio in Khartoum, accused the Sudanese government of resorting to "torture, intimidation and death threats " in order to incriminate Father Lotede. The letter, dated Jan. 25 1996, said the Sudanese authorities tortured both F ather Lotede to obtain a confession and a student, Simon Peter, to force him to accuse the priest.
Lotede was arrested in December accused of plotting to blow up military insti tutions in the southern town of Juba and of helping students to escape to southe rn areas controlled by the Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA). Lotede was released Jan. 16 after making a public confession.
Ender said the false accusations contradicted all the government's declarations of good will and its claim to desire good relations with the Catholic church.


[] The State Minister for Finance, Abdel Wahab Hamza, told a seminar in Khartoum that his ministry is concerned about the marked deterioration in the value of t he Sudanese currency. He emphasized the need for plans that encourage exports an d curb government and private imports. He expressed objection to importing margi nal goods, such as mineral water and toilet paper. He also revealed that, in the last six months, 1,158 cars (costing $146m) had been imported for government of ficials' use. He said this is done in spite of the war conditions and the econom ic siege on the country.

[] The Finance Minister, Abdalla Hassan Ahmed, told an Arabic paper that there are many difficulties facing the Sudanese economy. He said 'per capita income in Sudan is rather low, amounting to less that $500 yearly. Approximately 20% of the population, that is one million families, are suffering from poverty'. He said those earning 30,000 Sudanese pounds (equiv alent to $25) are below the poverty line.

[] The Sudan had opened its airspace to Nigeria. Sudan had earlier closed its ai rspace to all flights of the Nigerian Airways, following a dispute over non-paym ent of flight charges. The decision to re-open the airspace was taken at the rec ent meeting, in Abuja, between the two heads of state, General Abacha and Presid ent Al-Bashir. The two airlines were directed to solve their debts. Nigeria is o wing Sudan $1.5m as overflight charges.


Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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