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June 15 – July 14, 2003

Part 1 - Sudan

1. Briefs

June 15: Sudanese authorities have decided to release a mainly US food aid shipment held up for more than 10 days on the grounds that it was treated genetically. The United States had earlier complained that authorities were holding up the shipment for no good reason and threatened to divert it to Ethiopia.

15: Sudanese Minister of Justice Ali Mohammed Osman Yassin issued a decree creating posts for attorneys to apply Sudanese laws relevant to fighting terrorism, criminal cases and civil aviation laws.

15: Farmers of the Nashaqah region in Gedaraf state near the border with Ethiopia have urged the government to speed up demarcation of boundaries to resolve a long dispute over the ownership of farm lands. They demanded an immediate demarcation of the borderline to settle a seven-year dispute over ownership of 750,000 acres (300,000 hectares) of highly fertile land seized by the Ethiopians.

15: Sudan Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail rejected Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni claim that Sudan is supporting Lord's Resistance Army rebels because it wants to expand into territory of its east African neighbor. Museveni made the claim during his recent trip to Washington.

15: SPLA soldiers who crossed into Uganda's northern district of Kitgum killed five Ugandan civilians.

15: British envoy Alan Goulty warned Sudanese authorities against withdrawing from the peace process sponsored by the seven nations of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD). The envoy stressed that Sudan should seize the opportunity for a peace agreement.

16: The Sudanese government set up a special branch to prosecute terrorism suspects, particularly religious extremists and "armed bandits." Foreign Minister Mustafa Ismail said that the new branch within the justice ministry was set up in line with anti-terrorism accords signed by the government.

16: LRA rebels in northern Uganda have been getting fresh supplies of weapons from Sudanese government forces since the middle of last year after the fall of the Sudanese town of Torit, fuelling the escalation of the 17-year-long insurgency, claimed members of the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI).

17: The Sudanese envoy to Uganda, Hassan Yousif Ngor, described as unfounded and hearsay reports that Sudan is secretly re-arming the Lord's Resistance Army rebels who are terrorising northern Uganda, as President Yoweri Museveni recently claimed.

17: In an interview with the London-based Arab newspaper Al-Hayat, SPLA leader John Garang rejected a government proposal for a referendum on a future peace settlement and voiced support for a rebellion in the western region of Darfur. "How can a referendum be held in war zones?" he said.

18: British envoy in Sudan Alan Goulty, expressed optimism that a solution would be reached on Sudan's 20-year civil war and said that Britain would help Sudan in its development and reconstruction efforts..

18: Sudan President Omar el-Bashir slammed his leading opponents for advocating a national capital free of Islamic Sharia laws. A memorandum signed by the opposition Popular Congress and a declaration signed by Umma party's Sadeq al-Mahdi and Democratic Unionist's Mohammed Osman al-Mirghani with the south Sudanese rebel movement and its leader, John Garang, were attempts at "foiling the peace process and cancelling Islamic Sharia," he said.

19: About 45 representatives of Sudanese opposition parties and independent opponents of the government were detained in a police swoop consisting of about 30 armed security men on the home of one of them. Opposition lawyer Ghazi Suleiman said all of them were taken to security offices where their names were written down and they were warned against any anti-government political activities.

19: Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Ismail appealed to the Sudan Liberation Army/Movement (SLM) and others in western Darfur to lay their down arms and enter a dialogue with the government.

19: Sudan's leading Arabic and Islamic scholar, Abdallah el-Tayeb, died of a recurrent stroke. He was 82.

20: Sudanese opposition Ummah Party leader Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi has said that he would return to Sudan soon, thus denying reports that he has chosen Cairo as a place for voluntary exile after being subjected to a hostile campaign in Khartoum following his signing of a tripartite agreement last month with the leaders of the Democratic Unionist Party and the SPLM.

20: Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni warned that renewed arming of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels by Sudan threatened to "fundamentally change the relationship" between the two nations "It is true that Sudanese army officers have given fresh supplies to (LRA leader Joseph) Kony," Museveni said in a statement published in the state-owned daily New Vision newspaper.

20: The human rights group Amnesty International urged the Sudan government to stop arresting the country's northern opposition at a time of crucial peace talks with southern rebels to end 20 years of civil war. Amnesty questioned how the government in Khartoum could be engaged in talks with the south's SPLA while conducting a campaign of arrests and harassment in the north.

21: The volume of commercial exchange between Sudan and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia this year reached more than US$1.3 million, said Sudan's Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Uthman al-Dirdiri.

21: Ugandan Defense Minister Amama Mbabazi warned that the recent resumption of supplies to the LRA by Sudan will cause dire consequences.

21: Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir welcomed an opposition official's proposal to merge with the ruling National Congress, saying such a move would help political stability. Sharif Zein-ul-Abdeen al-Hindi proposed the merger in a speech at the first General Congress of his breakaway branch of the Democratic Unionist Party.

23: Greek authorities impounded a cargo ship packed with 680 tons (750 U.S. tons) of industrial-grade explosives heading for Sudan.

23: The Sudanese government began relocating villagers from Marawi, in the north, to make way for a new Nile dam with 120 families due to be resettled in El Mutakil by the end of the month, said the Minister for Irrigation, Osama Abdullah. The dam will be 10 kilometres in length, 65 metres in height and have a capacity of 1,250 megawatts.

23: Sudan President Omar al-Bashir expressed his astonishment over recent accusations by Uganda's Yoweri Museveni that it offers assistance to the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), said Foreign Minister Mustafa Ismail.

24: A Sudanese company, Integrated Chemicals and Development, said that it was importing explosives aboard a ship being held by the Greek government and that the cargo was to be used in civilian projects. An estimated 680 tons of explosives and 8,000 detonators were discovered by the Greeks aboard the Baltic Sea following a tip off from foreign intelligence agencies. Sudan Foreign Minister Mustafa Ismail hit out at Greece for seizing the ship. Meanwhile, Greece pressed on with its probe into the ship.

24: Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir sent a special message to his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni on relations between the two neighboring countries, reiterating the Sudan government's commitment to establishing a strong and stable relationship with Uganda aimed at bringing peace between the two countries and the region.

24: Sudan Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail demanded that Greece release a rusting cargo ship bound for Sudan that was intercepted recently by Greek authorities. The Sudan government criticized the seizure of the ship, which they said was transporting ammonium nitrate to a Sudanese company for civilian use.

24: General Lazaro Sumbeiywo, the chief Kenyan mediator in efforts to end Sudan's 20-year civil war, has begun touring southern Sudan held by the rebel SPLA. SPLA spokesman Yasser Arman said Sumbeiywo's tour was aimed at "conducting the last consultations" with the SPLA before peace negotiations resume in Kenya.

24: The Sudanese government and the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army have agreed to a six-month renewal of their cease-fire agreement in the central Nuba Mountains. The statement from the Joint Military Commission, which is monitoring the cease-fire, said it takes effect July 20 and will last until Jan. 19, 2004. A truce in the area has held since January 2002.

25: Clashes between Sudanese refugees and Turkana tribesmen in northwest Kenya have significantly reduced relief operations in southern Sudan, said the UN's Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS). The unrest, triggered by disputes over cattle-rustling at Kakuma Refugee Camp, has led to the deaths of nine refugees - eight Sudanese and one Ethiopian - and two Turkana tribesmen.

25: Sudan Foreign Minister Mustafa Ismail said he and US Secretary of State Colin Powell last May discussed Sudan's alleged support for terrorism, as well as democracy and human rights and talks aimed at ending Sudan's 20-year civil war. Ismail said Powell had indicated that those issues were of "paramount importance, and the US administration is closely following them."

25: The American think tank Strategic Forecasting said US President George Bush's upcoming visit to Uganda will include discussions on Sudan.

26: A peace deal in war-torn Sudan will not be sustainable if the grievances driving conflict in the marginalised areas of Darfur, Abyei, Southern Blue Nile and the Nuba mountains are not fully addressed, said the Brussels-based think-tank International Crisis Group (ICG).

27: The head of the pro-government Popular Defence Forces (PDF), Ahamed Abbas, vowed to protect the faith and the nation against enemies' endeavours to halt the march of Islam already started in Sudan. During an exceptional show of force in Khartoum by the PDF, Abbas told his fighters to safeguard the "revolution of national salvation" under Sudan President Omar el-Bashir.

27: The UN's Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) resumed full relief operations to southern Sudan that were scaled back due to clashes between Turkana tribesmen and Sudanese refugees in neighbouring Kenya.

27: The United Nations launched the first database of available socio-economic information on Sudan, with a view to assisting the humanitarian effort in the country. The UN Sudan Transition and Recovery Database, known as Starbase, contains information on demography, agro-ecological zones, administrative bodies, security, displacement and operational agencies and programmes. The sectors included are food security, education, health, water and infrastructure. To view the website see

28: Sudanese authorities confiscated the entire press run of the Saturday edition of independent Al-Sahafa newspaper.

29: Sudan President Omar el-Bashir said the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) would become the main partner in a new government after a settlement of the 20-year civil war. "We have to forget the war bitterness toward the rebel movement and accept the developments of peace when the movement enters the government as the main partner," he told the government daily newspaper Al Anbaa.

29: Government experts from Ethiopia, Sudan and Turkey are scheduled to meet in Addis Ababa this week to consider financing a 2,000 kilometre railway project that would link Port Sudan with the southern-most Ethiopian town of Moyale bordering with Kenya.

29: Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa arrived in Sudan, hoping to boost efforts to end Sudan's 20-year civil war.

29: The Common Market for East and Southern African Countries (COMESA) inaugurated a court of justice in Khartoum. The court - made up of seven judges - would play a role in supervising and implementing the rule of law among member states and help to promote the confidence of African firms operating within the organization's limits.

30: The Sudan government and the SPLA fighting a 20-year civil war extended their cease-fire agreement for another three months.

30: Sudan President Oman el-Bashir said that peace in civil war-ravaged southern Sudan is imminent. "There will be no wars, there will be no more death, there will be no more rifles and instead there will be hospitals, electricity and public services," he said.

July 1: Kenyan mediator Lazarus Sumheiywo is due to arrive in government-controlled areas in south Sudan to verify positions there.

2: Sudanese authorities arrested a key northern opposition figure, lawyer Ghazi Suleiman, just hours before the opposition was due to hold a press conference. The conference was called to unveil the "Khartoum Declaration," a document supporting the peace process between Khartoum and southern rebels and which backs an end to one-party rule in Sudan.

4: Leading Islamic scholars have issued a fatwah -religious edict - declaring communists, socialists and others adhering to non-Shariah (non-Islamic) law in Sudan as apostates who deserve to be killed. "Whoever approves or calls for the application of a ruling other than the Islamic Shariah - like those who call for socialism or communism or other subversive beliefs that contradict Islamic thought - is, frankly, an apostate," according to the fatwah signed by 14 prominent scholars, including two university professors.

5: The Sudan government said it views the rebel Ugandan Lord Resistance Army (LRA) as a terrorist and outlaw organization. Meanwhile, Ugandan Defence Minister Amama Mbabazi said that a team of senior army officers had been in Khartoum to make their country's case over Sudan's renewed arming of the LRA. Church leaders in northern Uganda last month charged that the LRA was again getting arms supplies from Sudan to sustain their bloody operations in northern Uganda.

6: Peace talks between the Sudan government and southern rebels resumed on Sunday at the Kenyan Rift Valley town of Nakuru, 160 kilometres (100 miles) west of Nairobi. The talks will centre on the main outstanding issues of power-sharing, wealth-sharing and security arrangements during a six-year transition period.

6: Sudanese authorities have arrested four more opposition activists who helped draft a document calling for the capital Khartoum to be free of Islamic law. They helped draft the "Khartoum Declaration," which was to have been unveiled at a press conference at the office of lawyer Ghazi Suleiman, who heads the Democratic Forces Front group and the Sudanese Human Rights Group.

8: A total of 115 people were killed when a Sudanese airliner crashed in eastern Sudan after reporting technical problems, leaving a two-year-old boy as the sole survivor, official sources said. Foreign Minister Moustapha Osman Ismail said the crash was the direct result of US sanctions against the country because the airliner couldn't get the spare parts and servicing it needed. A US spokesman denied the claim.

8: China hopes to further cooperation with Sudan, said State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan in Beijing. Tang spoke during a meeting with Sudanese National Assembly Speaker Ahmed Ibrahim Al-Tahir.

8: The US State Department will host a meeting Wednesday in Washington to bring together representatives from the government of Sudan, the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), donors and the United Nations to plan for a post-war period in Sudan.

9: The rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) accused authorities in Khartoum of trying to scupper hard-won gains in the country's long-running peace process by calling for a change in mediators. He said the SPLM/A had learned that the Sudanese foreign minister was circulating a proposal at the African Union summit calling on the pan-African grouping to take over the Sudan peace process from IGAD.

9: Crude oil production in Sudan could exceed more than half a million barrels per day (bpd) in 2004/05, said Sudan's Minister of Energy and Mines Awad Ahmed al-Jaz.

10: In a survey of rebel-controlled Abyei county, the Irish charity GOAL found that there are no health services available to a population of about 32,000 people, forcing them to walk for between two and three days to access medical care.

10: The rebel Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA) leader John Garang arrived in Kampala to try to meet members of US President George W. Bush's entourage on Friday.

11: The ongoing peace talks between the Sudanese government and the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) have come to a crucial stage with the drafting of a document expected to form the basis of a peace agreement.

12: The latest session of the Sudan peace talks ended with no progress on resolving key issues that are preventing the Sudan government and rebels reaching a peace agreement. The talks were adjourned after the government delegation refused to discuss a draft framework that mediators had presented in a bid to resolve disputes over power and wealth sharing, security arrangements and three disputed areas in central Sudan.

12: The independent newspaper Khartoum Monitor has been ordered to close and pay fines by a Sudanese court said Ngor Kolang the newspaper's legal advisor. He said Monitor newspaper editor Nhail Bol and reporter William Ezekiel were convicted of crimes against the state for trying to prove slavery practices against people in southern Sudan.

12: About 30 Sudan Liberation Army rebels and an undisclosed number of government troops were killed during fighting in the Darfur region of western Sudan near the border with Chad.

12: Sudan government official Amin Hassan Omer said the regional grouping of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) responsible for the collapse of the sixth round of peace talks resumed in Nakuru, Kenya. Saying it sought to divide Sudan "contrary to the contents of the Machakos framework," Omer said the draft agreement itself was "unfair, contradictory and unfit to constitute a basis for negotiation."

12: The Umma, the Democratic Unionist, the Communist party, and other opposition parties called on Sudan President Omar el-Bashir to carry forward the peace process with the southern rebels, and expand it to include their factions as well.

12: Sudan's Presidential Adviser for Political Affairs Ghazi Salah al-Din demanded that the seven-nation African regional group Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) amend its draft peace agreement between the government and Sudanese rebels.

13: Presidential Peace Advisor Ghazi Salah Eddin Atabani said the failure of the latest negotiations in Kenya to produce a draft peace deal between the Sudan government and the southern rebels is a "setback" and waned the Sudan government's hope that a peace settlement could be reached by August.

14: Riak Quai, vice president of Sudan's ruling National Congress party, asked Arab League chief Amr Mussa to urge mediators from the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to withdraw its draft peace accord.

14: Sudan President Omar el-Bashir defended Islamic law and told Kenyan-based mediators they can "go to hell" if they insist on pushing a draft peace settlement rejected by his negotiators.

14: The Sudan Liberation Army launched fresh attacks on a small town in western Sudan, two days after 30 of their fighters were killed by government soldiers in the same area, the Sudanese army said.

2. Refugees in Kenya sidelined by peace process

(This report was produced July 24 by the United Nations' news service IRIN. Please see IRIN's website - - for more details).

KAKUMA - As the Sudanese peace process has reached what many are calling the make-or-break stage, many southerners who fled the country's civil war are wondering how it is going to affect them.

In Kenya's northwestern Kakuma refugee camp, there is much talk about whether there will be a peace deal hammered out between the government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), and whether the refugees will be able to return home as a result. For the 65,000 southerners who live in Kakuma, some of whom fled to Kenya 20 years ago, this is of pivotal importance.

But the details of what sort of peace might emerge, what rights they will have if they do return, and what kind of negotiations are taking place between the government and the rebel group remain extremely sketchy.

As with most peace negotiations, the people whose lives are most affected by them feel they are largely being kept in the dark.

Philip Ayuel, a Sudanese man, tells IRIN, "generally people know that peace is being discussed in Nairobi, and everybody is looking for an outcome, but we don't know what is being negotiated".

While there are some televisions in the camp, watching them costs money, making it way beyond the reach of most people. In the absence of any newspapers, this leaves radio and word of mouth as the only sources of outside information. "I hear from the BBC. I understand a bit, but not a lot," says Tia Alumda Tia. He says he's concerned about what his leaders are negotiating, but can't access any information about it. "I'm worried. I hear from the radio but we want to witness the things ourselves."

Santino Monybot, a 'chairman' of the Sudanese community, says the SPLM/A, which is negotiating on behalf of the refugees, should keep its supporters informed of developments. "We know nothing about it, we just hear from the radio," he says. "We want people to come from the SPLM in Nairobi to tell us."

After over twenty years of waiting to go home to Sudan, Monybot feels the refugees have a right to be involved. "We have so many intellectuals here who could take part," he says. "We want participation and information, because peace is for all of us."

For most of the Sudanese women in Kakuma camp, the peace process is even more distant and obscure than for the men. Deborah Elijah Agok says the majority know nothing about it at all. "No one brings us news here, and we're very far away," she says. If she has a spare moment she listens to the radio, but with seven children to look after, food to cook, and water to fetch from 6 a.m. until dark, she has no time.

Apart from that, many of the women haven't been to school and don't understand the terminology used, she says.

"We know nothing about the peace," agrees Rebecca Achol. "We don't have a radio, we are poor, we know nothing."

Mary Bosco, who speaks good English and would like to know more, says "I have no radio. I never hear news, only rumours". Only the men have the chance to keep themselves informed of current affairs, she says. "We have a lot of housework to do. Men, they just sit around talking about politics. Very few men do any work according to our culture."

She would like to purchase a radio for herself, to know what's going on in the world, but she doesn't have the 2,500 ksh (over US $30) to buy one. "I would like to know because we need to go back to our country. We have been in exile long enough," she says.

While most of the refugees agree that they would like to be better informed, they say they would go home if a national peace deal was signed. Monybut told IRIN he would tell people to go home "immediately" because Sudan needed reconstruction and development. "The majority will be happy to go," he said.

Peter Ayiik says he doesn't have any idea what the SPLM is negotiating, but says "we have to accept it if they sign it". He would go home very soon, he says, because in Kenya he is lacking many things. "I am idle, I have no work, I can do nothing."

But others are more circumspect. Elijah Marey says he would only go home if there was "real" peace. "We would analyse which kind of peace there was," he says. "Words would not be enough."

James Young says people would not be prepared to go immediately, and that the peace talks may well yield nothing anyway. "It's not the first time they're having talks. We don't see any results. They had no success in the past, so I'm not hoping for peace."

"They might say there is peace and later it will collapse," he adds.

Deborah Alijah Agok agrees. She says many of the women, in particular, will have nothing to go back to anyway - no home, no husbands, no relatives and no means of survival. "I don't want to go back to Sudan," she says. "I saw my relatives killed in front of me. I would prefer to live in Kenya on the border so I can run away again."

3. Interview with Mukesh Kapila

(This report was produced June 20 by the United Nations' news service IRIN. Please see IRIN's website - - for more details).

NAIROBI - Mukesh Kapila is the newly appointed United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan, and recently spoke to IRIN on the current humanitarian situation in Sudan. He told IRIN about recent improvements in humanitarian access to people in need following progress in peace negotiations, and the potential for the UN to help improve the lives of Sudanese people in the context of a post-conflict Sudan.

QUESTION: What is the United Nation's role in the ongoing Sudanese peace process?

ANSWER: The United Nations is an observer in the peace talks and is working with the parties to help them reach an agreement. A particular role of the UN is also to help the parties to sustain the peace. We have offered our support to help them build their capacity in order to meet the expectations of the people of Sudan, of providing peace and bringing relief and assistance. We are helping both sides to prepare for this, otherwise the fragile peace will be undermined and the confidence will be shattered.

Q: What is your overall assessment of the prospects for peace in Sudan?

A: There is a good reason to be cautiously optimistic. We are collectively moving in the right direction and there have been many gains in the last months. However, there is no room for complacency. If the expectations of the Sudanese people are not met, there is a prospect for a resumption of the conflict. This therefore gives the impetus and urgency of ensuring that a lasting peace is achieved in Sudan. The UN is committed to assisting in any future role it is asked to play.

Q: What is the current status of humanitarian access in Sudan? Are there areas where access still poses a major problem?

A: The good news is that we've got a degree of access which is unparalleled in the history of UN operations in Sudan. This is reflected in an extra million people whom we have been able to reach over the past year. The reopening of the Nile corridor has also significantly improved access. Since 12 May, 1,000 tonnes of food have been transported to Sudan on barges, and for each tonne, we have saved US $250 in operation costs. It means that extra dollars are available for relief to assist additional people.

The last time that corridor was used was 1998. The agreement to reopen it was brokered by both parties, and both sides have honoured it. There are, however, problems and challenges. We still have difficulties getting cross-line access for our national staff. Getting permits and permissions to travel is still a fairly cumbersome process. There is still a lot more to be done, but I am encouraged by the cooperation from the two sides.

Q: What are the UN's plans for assisting Sudan in the immediate post-conflict period?

A: In terms of the UN's assistance strategies, I see the following: the humanitarian activities that have been there under the framework of OLS [Operation Lifeline Sudan] will continue to be a significant part of our effort. This time, we expect to bring humanitarian support to more people than before. Access to all people in need has been difficult, especially in areas which were cut off by conflict.

Secondly, we have come up with the Quick-Start Peace Impact Programme. This is a rapid mobilisation of resources and activities that will bring tangible results for the country in order to maintain the peace. A peace agreement does not mean peace. The peace has to be made to work.

This programme will include the rehabilitation of infrastructure, training of teachers, and developing skills so the Sudanese people can get employment. It also means supporting and developing the media, because most people in Sudan are either not adequately informed or are misinformed about what is going on. We need to create in the media the positive influence of sustaining peace.

Quick-start activities also are to include restoring public administration in areas where this has been absent. Because Sudan has suffered many years of hunger, poverty, destruction and sanctions, this is a job that will not be done overnight. But the Sudanese people have to feel its impact in order for peace to thrive.

The UN is well placed to do this, because it is the only organisation with agencies that have established and maintained strong networks in the country over many years. These networks, supported by the activities of OLS, can be re-tuned to build the requirements for peace.

Q: Are these changes likely to significantly affect the OLS humanitarian programmes?

A: OLS has been a remarkable achievement in securing an agreement between the parties - the UN, nongovernmental organisations and other partners - to develop some ground rules on humanitarian assistance in Sudan. Despite ups and downs, it has been stable for many years. OLS activities will continue for as long as is required, and the principles of OLS will be given support more widely.

However, when the peace agreement happens and we make progress towards peace-building, we have to give space to new institutions that will emerge, including the new institutions of governance to take their rightful responsibilities, so we can move to the areas of support and capacity building, which are also a crucial part of peace-building. OLS will reflect new realities and when the time comes, when all those who are part of the OLS framework decide, we should all have a big party to celebrate the success and move on.

Q: The UN assistance plans for Sudan are already moving towards post-conflict Sudan. But what if the peace agreement does not come this year?

A: I am in the optimism business. Sooner or later, peace will come to Sudan. When this will happen, I don't know, but when it does, we will be there to sustain it. Let us not forget that a large part of Sudan is already at peace. A peace agreement is vital, but it should not hold us completely hostage and prevent us from providing motivations to bring peace. There are things we can do, things we must do, and we are starting now. We need to do things that go beyond traditional humanitarian aid. We need to prepare the Sudanese people to gain skills [they can] transfer [to others]. This is something that needs to happen now.

Q: What does the UN need in order to continue to make its role in the peace process and development of a post-conflict Sudan even more effective?

A: We are deeply appreciative of the support the UN has received from member states which have sustained the UN operations in Sudan for many years. In order to continue an effective role, donors need to be consistent and forward-thinking in their support for Sudan and even for the UN wider mandate.

Secondly, member states' political support for the UN is needed to strengthen the UN's role as an impartial facilitator for all sides and all Sudanese people. In substantive terms, this year, the UN system has appealed for around $270 million for its programmes in Sudan. So far, halfway through the year, we have received around 30 percent. Donors are requested to accelerate their disbursements so we can carry out agreed programmes in a timely manner.

We also have plans under discussion for quick-start programmes to provide peace dividends, so donors should get their own planning in order now so we can start with the peace-building after the peace agreement. Delays in funds disbursements can undermine any fragile peace that has been achieved.

Part II - Northern Uganda

1. Briefs

June 17: Catholic missions in northern Uganda were on high alert after the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) declared that they would be the next target for its attacks on the civilian population of the north. LRA leader Joseph Kony ordered the attacks to be directed against Catholic priests, nuns and missions throughout the areas in which the rebels are operating.

19: Sudan strongly denied accusations made by the Acholi Religious Leaders' Peace Initiative (ARLPI) in northern Uganda that the Sudan army is continuing to arm the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebel group.

20: Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni described rebel attacks on refugee camps for displaced people in northern Uganda as "desperate" attempts to get food and drugs.

20: The chairman of the Oduru Kuc committee, a new body comprising local, national, and international organisations working to try to rekindle peace talks between the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels and the Ugandan government, has launched an impassioned plea to the international community to intervene to stop the country's 17-year civil war.

25: The Ugandan army has denied earlier reports that 100 schoolgirls were abducted by Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels in the Kaberamaido district of northern Uganda. According to Ugandan radio, army spokesman Major Shaban Bantariza said 29 girls had been kidnapped when rebels attacked Rwara school near the town of Soroti.

26: The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) has expressed horror over the abduction this week of a number of schoolgirls in Uganda by the LRA rebels.

July 7: The rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) has intensified its attacks in northern Uganda in recent weeks with the main objective of forcing internally displaced persons (IDPs) out of camps protected by the Ugandan army, the Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS) has said. It its June situation report on northern Ugandan relief operations, the URCS said the LRA's military strategy now seemed to be focused on dismantling the camps, established by the Ugandan government, which house an estimated 800,000 civilians.

9: The head of the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO), Constanza Adinolfi, stressed the need for "honesty and attention" from all parties involved in the northern Uganda conflict and called for wider international support for the reconciliation process.

11: In a letter dated 9 July, the Acholi Religious Leaders' Peace Initiative (ARLPI) organization called on US President George Bush to use his influence with the international community to seek a peaceful solution to the insurgency in the north.

11: The final 50 former combatants with the Lord's Resistance Army, who registered in Kenya with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) to benefit from the Ugandan Amnesty Act, are to return home.

14: Renewed fighting between government forces and the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) over the past year has led to a sharp increase in human rights abuses in northern Uganda, a coalition of local and international human rights organisations said in a 73-page report entitled "Abducted and Abused: Renewed War in Northern Uganda."

Part III- Horn of Africa

1. Briefs

June 16: A total of 8,700 Eritreans expelled from Ethiopia in 1998, and who have been homeless ever since, have been given farmland by the Eritrean government.

16: UK-based Article 19 - which campaigns for greater freedom of expression - said in its June report that the latest changes to Ethiopia's controversial draft press law as not going far enough. In particular, Article 19 complained of "excessive sanctions" against journalists, "excessive restrictions" on journalistic content, and noted that the proposed Press Council would be in the hands of the government.

16: Ethiopia could start exporting oil within four years after signing a multi-million-dollar exploration deal with Malaysian oil giant Petronas, said Minister of Mines Ambassador Mohamoud Dirir.

17: After days of bargaining, Somali groups meeting in the Mbagathi suburb of the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, have failed to reach agreement over the number and mode of selection of the members of a future interim parliament. Meanwhile, Amnesty International called on delegates attending Somali peace talks to choose leaders who will protect the human rights of all Somalis.

18: Irish troops serving as peacekeepers with the UN Mission to Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) completed their six-month tour of duty and were replaced by a contingent of Finns.

18: Top military leaders from Ethiopia and Eritrea have agreed to allow remains of 164 soldiers killed during their border conflict to be repatriated from the 25-kilometer buffer zone for burial.

18: Seventy-four Eritreans and 153 Ethiopians were repatriated over the past few days from Ethiopia and Eritrea respectively, said the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

19: Ambassador Bethuel Kiplagat, the chairman of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) technical committee and Kenya's special envoy to the Somali peace talks, said that a new Somali government should be formed by early July. Kiplagat had earlier set a target of 18 June.

19: UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has appointed the former Finnish president, Martti Ahtisaari, as his special envoy for the humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa, in response to a severe drought that has affected large parts of Eritrea and Ethiopia.

20: Seven people have been killed by newly laid landmines in 2003 in the border region of Eritrea and Ethiopia, said the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE). Phil Lewis, who heads UNMEE's Mine Action Coordination Centre (MACC), added that close to 30 people were injured.

23: Eritrea has been announcing the names of its war dead from the two-year conflict with Ethiopia, nearly three years after the end of the war.

23: The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) has condemned attacks targeting children in Somalia. It described the recent killing of three schoolgirls and the hijack of a bus carrying children as "abominable acts."

23: Somalia's Transitional National Government (TNG) urged the Kenyan government to reconsider its ban on flights to the Horn of Africa country, imposed because of security fears. "There is no danger of terror attacks from Somalis or from Somalia," said TNG Information Minister Abdirahman Ibbi. Kenya imposed the ban over the weekend after the US warned of a possible imminent attack on its embassy in Nairobi.

23: Authorities in the self-declared republic of Somaliland have detained Gen Jama Muhammad Ghalib, a former interior minister and police chief of Somalia, according to his son Abdirahman Jama. Ghalib opposes Somaliland's unilateral declaration of independence from the rest of Somalia.

24: Gen Jama Muhammad Ghalib, a former interior minister and police chief of Somalia, was "deported" to Djibouti.

24: The Nile should act as a springboard for economic development, ministers from Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt declared at a summit aimed at harnessing the river's power. The ministers, meeting for key two-day talks, are drawing up plans to develop at least seven projects aimed at harnessing the potential of the river. The initiative is part of the Eastern Nile projects directly backed by Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia whereby all three countries have agreed to set up specific schemes on the river.

24: The UN's 4,200 peacekeeping forces are to remain as a buffer between Ethiopian and Eritrean security personnel during the crucial demarcation of the border, according to UN Force Commander Major General Robert Gordon.

25: The influential Mogadishu-based faction leader, Muhammad Qanyare Afrah, said the Somali peace talks, currently underway in Kenya, are in danger of collapse if a compromise solution is not found to the selection and number of future parliamentarians.

25: The repatriation of 394 Eritrean refugees from Sudan resumed this week after the operation was suspended for 11 months due to bad weather and heightened tension between the two governments.

26: A UN mine-clearance pilot project in the self-declared republic of Somaliland has been so successful that it is planned to extend it to other regions of Somalia, said the UNDP. Two teams in the Somaliland police force have destroyed 10,000 items of UXO and mines since they became operational in July 2002.

26: Top security chiefs from seven African countries, all members of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), held key talks on combating terrorism attacks in the Horn of Africa.

30: Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of the Somali capital, Mogadishu, to protest against continuing violence and abductions in the city. The protest was organised by a grouping of 46 civil society organisations. These included women's and human rights groups, professionals and Koranic schools.

30: US military adviser Marine Col Paul Melshen told a regional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) conference on preventing and combating terrorism that a world war is under way and stressed it is essential for African states to eliminate terrorism.

July 1: Lare Okungu, the Africa regional director of Geneva Call, a Swiss NGO dedicated to landmine action, said Somalia's faction leaders have shown encouraging support to the international community's efforts to curb the use of landmines, and to clear out mines that have been buried for years throughout the country.

2: The chairman of the pro-interim government Juba Valley Alliance [JVA] militia based in Kismayo, Col Barre Adan Shire Hirale, said his rival Gen Muhammad Sa'id Hirsi Morgan is preparing to attack the southern Somali port city.

2: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) called for "decisive and urgent" action by Eritrea to confront what it described as the enormous economic challenges ahead. challenges include addressing the severe drought in the country, accelerating the demobilisation and reintegration of some 200,000 combatants, re-establishing macroeconomic stability and laying the foundations for sustained economic growth and poverty reduction.

4: The UN said have been five shooting incidents involving the Ethiopian armed forces at Humera, in the western sector of the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea, since the beginning of the year, three of them fatal.

7: Hundreds of medical workers in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, held a one-day work stoppage to protest against the killing of a prominent doctor in the city last week. Unidentified gunmen gunned down Dr Husayn Muhammad Nur, one of the best eye specialists in Mogadishu, and younger brother of faction leader Hasan Muhammad Nur Shatigadud, in front of his clinic on 3 July.

7: Delegates to the Somali peace talks, taking place in Kenya, signed what was termed an "historic" agreement on July 5 to set up a federal government, but confusion was created when some political groups such as the Transitional National Government (TNG) denounced the agreement the following day.

8: A flight ban imposed by the Kenyan government on flights to and from Somalia was lifted.

9: The US counter-terrorism force in the Horn of Africa has begun a three-month training exercise with the Ethiopian defence force. The exercise is being held at the Hurso training camp near Dire Dawa. Infantry forces assigned to the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) are providing infantry skills training on small unit tactics.

10: Two days of heavy fighting in the south of Mudug region, have left at least 43 people dead and over 90 injured. The fighting broke out between the Sa'ad, Habar Gedir subclan and the Dir, and was concentrated in and around the villages of Towfiq and Awle, some 200 km east of Galkayo.

11: The independent claims commission, which is looking into post-war claims by Eritrea and Ethiopia, has announced partial awards regarding the issue of prisoners-of-war. In a lengthy document issued on July 8, the commission, which sits at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, made awards to the parties after they filed their claims regarding the treatment of their POWs. All prisoners were finally released in 2002.

14: Dr Admasu Gebeyehu, who heads the newly-formed United Ethiopian Democratic Party (UEDP), pledged wide-ranging land reform as the key manifesto strategy for the 2005 Ethiopian elections. The UEDP, with 20,000 members, is made up of the Ethiopian Democratic Union Party and the Ethiopian Democratic Party.

2. Asha Abdalla: Africa's first woman president?

By Cathy Majtenyi

When Asha Ahmed Abdalla was a teenager in her native country of Somalia, she used to daydream about what it would be like to be Somalia's first lady, and decided to set her sights on achieving that goal.

But Abdalla grew up, and so did her dream. After a lifetime of humanitarian and political activity, the 45-year-old mother of three has set her eyes on the ultimate prize: to become Africa's first woman president.

"Women should use their power," she says, a warn grin lighting up her youthful features. "I've always loved politics. I love to fight for people's freedoms. Also, I like equality, especially women's equality."

These days, Abdalla is campaigning for the presidency at the Somalia National Reconciliation Conference, a peace process that has been going on in Kenya for the past year. The conference, organized and facilitated by the seven-nation Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), brings together the country's warlords, traditional elders, and others to find a peaceful solution to the bitter war that has rocked Somalia since 1991.

Analysts say that the war in Somalia is primarily a struggle between 23 or so clan and sub-clan-based factions fighting with one another to maintain control of particular areas. Technically, the country is being led by the Transitional National Government (TNG), an interim government that was put together at Somalia's last peace conference, held in 2000 in Arta, Djibouti.

In reality, the TNG only controls sections of Somalia's capital Mogadishu and other small parts of the country.

Conference participants spent long months discussing and debating such subjects as conflict resolution and reconciliation, disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration, land and property rights, and economic recovery. They have put together a constitution and are now in the process of selecting a 351-member parliament that will ensure that all four of Somalia's clans and civil society will be represented.

The Members of Parliament, in turn, will elect a president who will lead the interim government for four years until an election can be held in Somalia. At the moment, observers say Somalia is still too unstable and volatile to be able to host elections.

According to the conditions of the Arta conference, the current TNG's term expires next month. Abdalla is currently the TNG's Minister of Demobilization, Disarmament, and Reintegration.

She has some stiff competition in her bid to become president. More than 40 big-name contenders are running for the position, including Hussein Aideed, son of former faction leader General Mohammed Farah Aideed, former International Football Federation official Farah Adow, and Dr. Najib Abdulkarim, a lecturer in a U.S. university.

But the energetic and enthusiastic Abdalla - whose campaign poster says "Give Somalia a Mother's Nurturing!" - is not worried about her heavyweight rivals or the fact that she's the only woman running in a society that has traditionally shunned her sex from the political arena.

"[The decision to run] came from my friends," she says, adding that during her term in office, she acquired the reputation of being tough but fair-minded and law-abiding. "If I become president, I will bring law and order back, and things will come back to normal."

She has come up with a "Twelve Point Agenda" that commits herself to taking action on issues including disarmament, rehabilitation, judicial reform, healthcare, regional governance, economic revival, universal education, employment creation, and, of course, women's empowerment.

Asha Abdalla was born in 1958 in Ergaro, a city on the tip of Somalia stretching into the Gulf of Aden. She spent her early childhood in Yemen and returned to Somalia in the late 1960s.

That was around the time that Abdalla's uncle was running for Member of Parliament. His young niece, who helped him manage his campaign, was impressed by the flurry of activity, attention, and discussions on issues. It was then that her political ambitions were born.

A decade later, while attending Latole University in Mogadishu, the student was caught up with the causes and effects of the Ogaden War, a bloody conflict between Somalia and Ethiopia. She saw her people suffering, and got into heated discussions and debates about how to stop the war and help its victims.

It was also during this time when Abdalla met her future husband. They married and immigrated to the United States. There, she led a life packed with educational and humanitarian achievements that included: a BSc from La Guardia College in New York; a Master's from the City University of New York; and the chairmanship of the Washington-based Somali Relief Agency, which also dealt with Somali refugees' welfare in the U.S.

In 2000, Abdalla - who by this time also had her American citizenship - was persuaded to attend the Arta conference where, because of her pivotal role, she was elected Member of Parliament in the TNG and then was later named minister. She hasn't looked back since, even though during the course of her work, she has received several death threats from those angry at her policies.

Abdalla credits her family - particularly her father, who died last year - for who she is today. "He taught me to be honest, to be straightforward, to believe what I believe, and to work with others for good things. [He taught me] never do what somebody else tells you to do if it's not right."

She also urges women to recognize their rights and to fight for them. "I'm asking women around the world to work on peace together."

3. Interview with Edna Ismail

(This report was produced July 24 by the United Nations' news service IRIN. Please see IRIN's website - - for more details).

ADDIS ABABA - Edna Adan Ismail is the foreign minister of the self-declared republic of Somaliland which is seeking international recognition as a separate independent state. On an official visit to Ethiopia - 12 days into her new job after being appointed Somaliland's first female minister - she tells IRIN about the quest for recognition.

QUESTION: Is Ethiopia ready to recognise Somaliland following your talks with the foreign minister Seyoum Mesfin?

ANSWER: Recognition is something that will take its natural course, but what we talked about were the bilateral relations of the two countries, the trade relations, and the common concern about security in the region. We discussed food aid coming in from the European Union through the port of Berbera, flowing freely without being looted, without military escort across Somaliland.

Q: But as your most important ally did he say in a year's time we will recognise Somaliland?

A: That he did not say, but it has been said before that Ethiopia will not be the first to recognise us. But they certainly will not be the third.

Q: Who is going to be the first?

A: We think the smartest country will, because recognition of Somaliland is something that is bound to happen. The independence of Somaliland, in the fifties, came about as a result of mutual agreement and treaties, with pomp and pageantry, with signatures of documents. At that time when Somaliland gained its independence from Britain, 34 nations recognised Somaliland including the Security Council members of that time. We have never severed relations with any of those countries so technically we are still recognised by 34 countries of the world. The problem now is our former partners, our Somali brothers, are in such disarray, such confusion that there is no way we can part like we did with Britain. Somaliland is not self-declared unless somebody is brave enough to tell me Britain does not exist.

Q: Why then won't Britain recognise Somaliland?

A: I think probably I would attribute it to humility, stiff upper lip. I don't know. Britain has not been as forceful as Italy has been to defend Somalia. And I think it may be because they are afraid it may be seen as nepotism. A former territory, supporting it blindly - whereas it may be seen as more credible if it is a country that has no links with Somaliland recognising it on its merits.

Q: Who in Africa are you targeting as the key countries?

A: We are looking at South Africa, Mozambique, Senegal, Uganda, Ethiopia, and many African countries. Most of them are very understanding, but many misinformed about how the emotional union of Somaliland and Somalia came about. It was never a domination of one country over the other; it was the union that came about because people wished to share a destiny.

Somaliland is the most senior of the two partners, the first born of two twins. It should have been triplets because Djibouti in 1977 opted not to join that union wisely. When the union, an emotional union that was never ratified, which never had benefited from legal documents being signed, between Somaliland and Somalia got into trouble and ended in a very long and hard civil war of 11 years, we closed our borders and got down to the hard task of rebuilding our country. On the other hand in Somalia regretfully they had destroyed their own country, their own cities, and it continues to disintegrate. It is very sad. We hope one day our brothers in Somalia will understand the wisdom of peace and stability so we can sit across the table and have a dialogue.

Q: Will you try and get those countries to pressure the African Union to recognise Somaliland?

A: I don't think pressure - convince perhaps, inform perhaps. Somaliland is a bright example of what Africans can do with their own resources, determination and self-help. Somaliland held a referendum in May 2001 when 97 percent of our people opted for separation from Somalia. Now we have managed to build ourselves up, we can look for a headway because at the beginning we were very preoccupied with clearing our country of landmines, bringing our people home from refugee camps in Ethiopia.

Q: But the fear is that recognition will lead to the further disintegration of Somalia?

A: How much more disintegration can happen in Somalia? How many factions are there - 17? ... I don't think Somaliland can be blamed for the disintegration of Somalia. They didn't need Somaliland to help with their disintegration. I think the disintegration of Somalia has been caused by the funds pouring in from international taxpayers. Money has poured in and much has been looted to buy more guns and create more warlords. It has been a comedy. The world expects us to produce a divorce document when there has never been a marriage. It cannot be done. If Somaliland is recognised we will play a very major role in the reconciliation of the clans in Somalia. We know them better than anybody else.

Q: What is it like being the foreign minister of a country that is not recognised?

A: For me a sense of pride, a duty that gives me great honour to perform.

Q: But it must be very frustrating being a foreign minister that no-one recognises?

A: No way. I am proud of the achievements of my country, and I am proud to be the foreign minister of that great country that is Somaliland. We have achieved far more than other countries have. Look at Liberia, look at Zaire, look at Sierra Leone, and look at Ivory Coast. I would rather be the minister of foreign affairs of Somaliland than the minister of foreign affairs of some countries. I am proud of Somaliland.

Q: When will Somaliland be recognised?

A: I think 2003 is a good year. So many good things have happened in Somaliland. Recognition would be the icing on the cake. We are paying a heavy price for being peaceful. There is nothing sensational happening, there are no bodies of dead marines being dragged through the streets of Somaliland like there were in Mogadishu. There are no international troops to keep peace in Somaliland. We maintain our demobilisation and our peace ourselves. There are no foreigners kidnapped or no hijacks. Nothing sensational happens. It is just a very dull country that is getting on with its daily life, rebuilding.

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