July 15 - August 15, 2002
Part I – Sudan
2. Doubts greet talks resumption
3. Khartoum: MACHAKOS PROTOCOL RECEIVES MIXED REACTIONS
4. All set for peace breakthrough
Part II- Northern Uganda briefs
Part III- Horn of Africa briefs
Part 1 – Sudan
Below is a chronology of events in the Sudan over the last one month:
15: The second high ranking SPLA/M official Salva mayadit claims that the government’s delegation to the Machakos peace talks is harbouring a hidden agenda which would inhibit peace settlement. He told the World Council of Churches general Secretary Rev. Dr.Konrad Raiser that the meeting, held under the auspices of IGAD, was a non-starter. .
17 :A special Sudanese court has sentenced 87 people to death for their involvement in a clash between two tribes in western Sudan which left more than 50 people dead. 96 people were put on trial after the clash in May between the al-Muaalia and Reizagat tribes in Southern Darfur state. In addition to those sentenced to death, one received 10 years in jail and the rest were acquitted.
17 :A campaign to educate people on HIV/AIDS kicked off at weekly Friday sermons in the nation’s mosques. Sudan officially has recorded 8,669 cases of AIDS and HIV infection since 1986, said Mahjoub Mekki, director of Sudan's national AIDS program. But he estimated the real figure to be at least a half-million people, most of them 20-35 years old.
18 : Sudan's ruling National Congress (NC) struck a provisional deal for power-sharing with a breakaway faction of the opposition Umma party as part of a reforms programme. Presidential political adviser Qutbi al-Mahdi and Mubarak al-Fadil al-Mahdi, a dissident from the mainstream Umma party, issued a joint statement on the deal. Their statement called for a national programme aimed at establishing a democratic state with respect for "all religions and beliefs".
18:Sudan protested the presence of armed rebels of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) in Kampala and its environs, warning that this could stand in the way of normalising relations between the two countries. Khartoum said it was "unhappy with the opportunity" accorded to the SPLA to stage a two-day event from May 19 -20 in Kampala to mark the 19th anniversary of its formation in 1983.
19 : Indonesia and Sudan agreed to raise their joint commission to a ministerial level committee, spokesman of the Indonesian Foreign Ministry Marty Natalegawa said . The spokesman disclosed that the two countries would sign a relevant memorandum of understanding when Sudanese Vice President Ali Osman Muhamed Taha visits Jakarta between July 20-23.
20: Representatives of Sudan's government and its main rebel faction signed parts of a peace deal that could mark the beginning of an end to the country's 19-year-old civil war. Sudan’s Charge d’affaires in Nairobi Ahmed Dirdery said the deal outlines a centralized system of government with a bicameral legislature and provides autonomy for several states in the Southern Sudan.
20:American president George Bush sent diplomats , international monitor and aid in an effort to end the nearly two decade civil war.
20:Britain welcomed the deal reached between Sudanese government and the southern rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), calling it "a "significant breakthrough".
22: Gulf newspapers hailed the peace accord signed by Khartoum and rebels of southern Sudan as a step towards a final settlement of the 19-year-old civil war in the African country. "It's an historic accord which offers a chance for a complete settlement," Al-Yawm of Saudi Arabia said. "It feeds the hope of the Sudanese people for an end to the most complicated conflicts in Africa," which has claimed the lives of an estimated 1.5 million people and displaced nearly four million others in southern Sudan.
22: The Southern Sudan Liberation Movement (SSLM) and its military arm signed in Nairobi what they termed a political charter with the Khartoum government to give room for a cease-fire as well as allow for consultation for a comprehensive peace agreement in Sudan.
22: UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan welcomeed the progress in the peace talks on the conflict in Sudan, voicing his hope to see "a definitive peace agreement" in the next round of talks.
22: 2002 While it did not celebrate yet, Talisman Energy hopeed peace plans in the African country of Sudan will end 19 years of vicious civil war and encourage the sharing of riches from its burgeoning oil industry. The Calgary-based oil and gas giant remained vague about its plans following a breakthrough in the talks
23: Eritrea welcomed a peace deal signed by the Sudanese government and the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M), calling it an "important first step" towards ending the conflict. .
23: A Sudanese court sentenced 15 people, including a woman, to death for deadly April attacks on two villages of the Fur ethnic minority, the official SUNA news agency reported. The emergency court in the Southern Darfur provincial capital of Niyala found the 15 guilty of murder, banditry and illegal possession of firearms, the news agency said. Two other defendants were jailed for 10 years for the attacks in which prosecutors said four villagers were killed and livestock and other property carried off.
24: The newly-created African Union hailed a peace agreement between the Sudanese government and rebels from the south of the country as a "breakthrough," and said it hoped the parties would push ahead to a comprehensive settlement.
26 A Sudanese minister called on neighbouring Egypt to help preserve Sudan's unity, despite a peace deal which offers the south the option of breaking away through a future referendum. Sudanese Agriculture and Forests Minister Mazjoub al-Khalifa Ahmed said Egypt had an interest in preserving the unity of Africa's largest country after 19 years of civil war.
26: Sudan's first vice president said he did not expect the sensitive task of dividing up the country's oil resources to derail efforts to reach a final comprehensive peace deal with rebels. "This should be no problem. As a matter of fact, thanks God, we have managed to agree on more difficult issues, for example the relationship between state and religion...," Ali Osman Mohamed Taha told a news conference on a trip to London.
27: The president of Sudan and the leader of southern Sudanese rebels met and endorsed a framework for peace talks worked out by their representatives. During the two-hour meeting, President Omar el-Bashir and John Garang, leader of the Kenyan-based Sudan People's Liberation Army, pledged to "ensure that all efforts are deployed to resolve the outstanding issues, which will be discussed in the next phase of peace talks," according to a communique released after the meeting in the Ugandan capital.
27: Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni and his Sudanese counterpart Omar al-Beshir agreed to step up security along their border to stem cross-border raids by Ugandan rebels. The two leaders "agreed to continue developing their current cooperation for the mutual benefit of their countries," said a joint communique issued after Beshir's two-day visit to Uganda. "In particular, they recommitted themselves to work together towards total peace and security along their common border and its environs," the communique said. .
27: Sudan called on Libya to keep up its peace efforts, following the signing of a protocol accord between Khartoum and southern rebels. Sudan's Information Minister Mahdi Ibrahim delivered the call, contained in a message from President Omar al-Beshir, during a meeting with Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi, officials said.
27:An estimated 60,000 Sudanese refugees would be repatriated back to their country under a tripartite agreement involving Kenya, Sudan and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). Sudanese Charge de Affairs to Kenya Mr Ad Dirdery Mohammed-Ahmed said refugees from the Kakuma camp would be repatriated under the programme. He said the return of the refugees is part of the rehabilitation programme for displaced persons agreed under a peace framework recently signed by the government and the SPLM/SPLA.
29: UGANDA and Sudan moved a step further to normalise their relations when President Yoweri Museveni and his Sudanese counterpart Gen. Omar el Bashir agreed to upgrade diplomatic representation to ambassadorial level.
The new development came after talks in Kampala in which the two presidents agreed to establish a joint ministerial committee to oversee cooperation between the neighbours. Museveni accepted an invitation by Bashir to visit Sudan.
1: A Sudanese diplomat said 7,000 people have been displaced by recent fighting in the south between government troops and rebels, but added that the fighting had stopped. "Movement of population has mainly been from SPLA (rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army) areas to government-controlled areas of Western Upper Nile (State)," Ahmed Dirdeiry, the charge d'affaires in the Sudanese embassy in Nairobi, told AFP. The SPLA has put the civilian death toll during a weekend attack by government forces on southern Mayom county at 300 people, with up to 100,000 displaced.
1: Nine people, including a woman, were killed and an unspecified number wounded in a shootout in a marketplace in Juba, the main city in southern Sudan, a press report said. Reporting from Juba, capital of Bahr el-Jebel State, the independent Akhbar Al Yom daily said a group of armed men of the local Morle tribe attacked Konj Konj Market, shooting indiscriminately, and killed four merchants, four security men and a woman. .
2:The African Union endorsed a recent peace framework signed between the Government of Sudan and rebels who have been fighting for the autonomy of the South. A statement from the AU said the framework would provide further avenues for ending the conflict which has persisted for two decades. The Union's secretariat in South Africa further lauded Kenya's role in the peace process, saying the country's leadership had made immense contributions towards the process. .
3: The Egyptian press accused the United States of working for the secession of south Sudan by overriding a three-year-old Arab initiative to end the country's 19-year civil war in favour of its own. "The major objective of the United States is to eliminate the Egyptian-Libyan influence and to abort their initiative and to separate the south of Sudan from the north on any basis," columnist Salama Ahmed Salama wrote in the state-owned Al-Ahram daily. He attributed the policy to "the discovery of petroleum in (southern) Sudan (which) attracted the interests of Americans and Europeans."
5: The Sudanese government accused the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) of preparing to launch an offensive in southern Sudan despite drawing up a roadmap for peace last month. The state-run SUNA news agency quoted a "high-ranking" official in Sudan's defense ministry as saying the SPLA "continues assembling its men, moving heavy weapons, equipment and supplies" into Eastern Equatoria in southern Sudan. The official, who was not named, warned the SPLA of heavy retaliation if it attacked. However, the SPLA not only denied the charges but accused the Sudanese government of using them as a "cover" to launch its own offensive in Eastern and Western Equatoria as well as continuing its assault in southern oil regions.
6: The United Nations refugee agency said that it wants to move thousands of Sudanese who fled an attack by rebels in Uganda to a safer camp away from the conflict zone. Kris Janowski, spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, said the Acholipii camp in Uganda had been deserted by its 24,000 Sudanese residents following Monday's raid by the rebel Lord's Resistance Army. The pre-dawn attack left at least 14 people dead. Rebel fighters drove away 100 Ugandan soldiers, abducted four Ugandan aid workers, stole supplies and burned buildings and vehicles. .
8: Ugandan rebels gave Sudanese refugees and aid organizations one week to leave northern Uganda and southern Sudan or face continued attacks, an official from an international aid group said. The ultimatum from the Lord's Resistance Army rebels was delivered to officials of the American-based International Rescue Committee who were negotiating the release of four of the group's Ugandan employees abducted by the rebels, said Timothy Bishop, IRC Uganda country director, in a telephone interview from Kampala.
8: First Vice-President of the Republic Ali Uthman Muhammad Taha, affirmes the government's keenness to realize stability and peace and to boost the national unity in the country.
8: Two foreign aid workers held hostage in southern Sudan for more than five days were are released and flown to freedom in Kenya.
The two men, Andrew Omwenga of Kenya and Ekkehard Forberg of Germany work for the Christian relief agency World Vision. Forberg, 31, limped off the Red Cross plane with some assistance while Omwenga, looking worn and thin, walked unaided.
Their release came after a United Nations security officer flew to the town of Yuai to negotiate with the South Sudan Liberation Movement (SSLM), the pro-government militia group holding the hostages.
9: Oil exploration group Lundin Petroleum says it expects to resume drilling in Sudan in February if a preliminary peace agreement is finalised as planned in mid-September after two decades of civil war.
The timetable remarks by Chairman Ian Lundin and Chief Executive Ashley Heppenstall at a teleconference confirmed the company's assessment last month, when peace in Sudan began to look possible, that drilling there would not resume until the end of this year at the earliest. The company's aim was to restart its operations in Sudan, on hold since January because of civil war, as soon as possible, "...in February, early next year," he said. Sweden-based Lundin Petroleum has a 40.375 percent stake in the Thar Jath field located in the Muglad basin in southern Sudan.
10: Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir declares that his government is committed to halting military operations on all fronts against the southern rebels. The official Al Anbaa daily quoted Beshir as saying at a political gathering of the ruling National Congress that his government "is committed to cessation of military operations in all fronts and the (government) armed forces will not use arms except in self-defence."
He appreciated the support of the Arab countries to the Machakos Protocol which was between Sudan government and SPLM [Sudan People's Liberation Movement] for realizing peace in Sudan.
12: A second round of government and rebel talks aimed at ending almost 20 years of civil war in Sudan began in Machakos, Kenya.
Issues of provisions for a ceasefire, sharing power and wealth as well as details of a six-year period of autonomy for the south impoverished and populated mainly by Christians and animists, in contrast to the Muslim, Arabised north also featured prominently.
12: Sudanese government negotiators are given "clear orders" to bring home a "final peace" deal from talks with southern rebels from President Omar al-Beshir.
"I have given the delegation clear orders that they have to come back to Khartoum only with a final peace agreement," Beshir told a rally of more than 4,000 people here, nearly all of them from southern Sudan. "We can rightly celebrate peace as it is definitely approaching ... It is a matter of days and peace will prevail," he said.
14: The Sudanese government will be committed to a peace deal with the southern rebel group, the Sudanese ambassador to Cairo, Ahmed Abdel Halim. After his meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher, Ahmed Abdel Halim said, they had discussed ways to boost bilateral cooperation in terms of reaching a peaceful settlement in Sudan.
14: The U.S. special envoy for Sudan said Wednesday Sudanese unity was desirable but it would hinge on whether the government recognized the rights of southerners. Speaking after a meeting with Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa, envoy John Danforth told reporters almost all parties recognized that a unified Sudan was desirable. "The issue is what will happen in the next six years," he said. "Whether there will be a just peace. Whether the rights of the people who are in the minority and the people in the south will be recognized and whether they will be full participants in the country."
15: Sudan's ruling party, the National Congress, has decided to change its bellicose slogan - Jihad, Victory and Martyrdom - to something the rather more conciliatory.
The new slogan - Peace, Unity and Development - is meant to promote peace with the largely Christian and animist areas in the south, said Ibrahim Ahmed Omar, the Secretary General of the party.
Many people in southern Sudan felt the slogan depicted the civil war as a holy one, pitting Muslims against non-Muslims, with the reference to jihad - holy war - reflecting the Islamic character of the government.
Chronology: major events in Sudan's 19-year civil war
The Sudanese government and rebels held peace talks in Kenya Monday to end the 19-year civil war in Africa's largest country.
The following is a chronology of major events in the Sudan since the civil conflict broke out in 1983.
1983: The Arab-dominated government adopted Islamic sharia law, angering the Christian south. Rebels began to organize the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) led by John Garang.
1986: Sadiq al-Mahdi became prime minister of the Sudan and led a coalition government for three years.
June 30: Lieutenant-General Omar Hassan al-Bashir seized power in a coup and dissolved the parliament.
June 14: The SPLA agreed to mediatory recommendation proposed by the Organization of African Unity.
Jan. 1: Bashir announced to establish a transitional national commission to prepare legislative elections.
Feb. 24: The transitional parliament was set up.
July 12: The government forces seized the SPLA headquarters at Torit.
Feb. 22-23: The government officials and the rebels held the first talks in Uganda.
April 26: Peace talks resumed in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria.
Oct. 16: Bashir declared to be president and the cabinet resigned collectively on the following day. Bashir named new ministers on Oct. 30.
Oct. 31: The Sudanese army called off 5-year curfew in Khartoum.
Oct. 29: Bashir announced the attacks against the rebels to cut their connection with Uganda and the former Zaire.
June 25: The rebels held meeting in Eritrea to claim the right of self-determination for the south and propose to abolish Islamic sharia law and establish an exile government.
Aug. 12: The cabinet was reshuffled and the minister was dismissed for the relation with an assassination attempt on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in June.
March 6: The presidential elections began and Bashir won 75.7 percent of votes.
April 26: The UN Security Council passed a resolution to impose sanctions against the Sudan for its sponsoring terrorism.
May 27: Bashir called for a national reconciliation and peace talks with rebels.
April 21: The government signed a peace accord in Khartoum with the South Sudan Independence Movement and three other rebel groups without the participation of the SPLA.
Oct. 29: The government and the SPLA began peace talks in Nairobi, Kenya after some military losses.
Nov. 4: The US government imposed economic sanctions against the Sudan.
May 6: The government and the SPLA reached an agreement after three-day talks in Nairobi to vote on self-determination for the south.
Aug. 20: The US fighters raid a pharmacy factory near Khartoum and wounded at least 10 people.
Aug. 2: The rebels announced in Tripoli, Libya that they agreed to hold direct talks with the government and stop civil war.
Dec. 12: Bashir declared a nation-wide state of emergency and dissolved the parliament with the removal of Speaker Hassan al- Turabi.
Feb. 21: The government officials and the rebels including the SPLA resumed peace talks in Nairobi, Kenya. However no agreement was reached during six-day talks. The SPLA statement said two sides failed to agree on the issues of self-determination and the relationship between the religion and state.
March 12: The government declared the extension of the state of emergency till the end of the year.
Oct. 16: A three-day preparatory meeting for national reconciliation was held in Khartoum to propose peace talks and a united country.
Jan. 3: Bashir declared the extension of the state of emergency in the country for 12 months.
Feb. 12: Bashir was sworn in for another five-year term as president.
July 4: The government accepted a peace proposal initiated by Libya and Egypt.
Sept. 28: The UN Security Council resolved to lift sanctions against the Sudan. But US economic sanctions remained in force.
Jan. 19: The government and the rebels signed a ceasefire agreement in Switzerland.
June 16: The government extended the limited ceasefire with the rebels for six months.
July 20: The government and the rebels agreed on key issues of self-determination and the separation of the religion and state and a framework for future talks to end the 19-year civil war.
July 27: Bashir met SPLA chief Garang for the first time and held peace talks with him in Kampala, the capital of Uganda.
Aug. 12: The government officials and the rebels met again in Machakos, Kenya for talks hopefully to end the civil war that killed 2 million people in the past 19 years.
2. Doubts greet talks resumption
With the resumption of peace talks between the government and the Sudanese People Liberation Army (SPLA) in the Kenyan town of Machakos, the southerners have their own misgivings, doubting the seriousness of the Khartoum Government.
By Cathy Majtenyi
As representatives of the Sudan government and the rebel group Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) resume their talks in the South- Eastern Kenyan town of Machakos, ordinary South Sudanese are greeting the progress made so far with a mixture of anticipation, suspicion and fear, say sources who have visited South Sudan recently and/or are involved in projects in the south.
The Machakos Protocol, signed July 21 by Dr. Ghazi Atabani representing the Sudan government and Commander Salva Mayardit on behalf of the SPLM/A, commits the Sudan government to confining Sharia (Islamic law) to the north. It also grants south Sudan a six-year period of administrative autonomy, after which the population can decide in a referendum whether to stay in a united Sudan or secede.
Analysts have hailed the agreement as a major breakthrough in the war between the north and the south, the latest round of which has been raging since 1983. According to the reports of scores of human rights groups throughout the years, the Khartoum government has violently imposed Islam and Arab culture on southern populations, which are mostly followers of Christianity and traditional African religions.
There have also been bloody battles over the rich oil reserves found in the south, particularly in Bentu state, as well as human rights abuses committed by the SPLA itself. Overall, the war has left an estimated two million people dead.
The next round of talks, which resumed in Machakos on August 12, is meant to work out a comprehensive ceasefire between the government and rebel armies, the sharing of oil wealth, power sharing, human right issues and how the country will be governed during the six-year interim period. The Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is hosting the talks chaired by President Daniel arap Moi’s special envoy to the Sudanese Peace Initiative, Lt. Gen. Lazarus Sumbeiywo. Special envoys from the US, Uk, Italy, Norway, Eritrea, Uganda and Ethiopia are attending as observers.
While people on the ground are happy to hear about the milestones gained in the Machakos Protocol, and are excited about the possibility of the war ending, there remains a lot of mistrust because of the past, sources say.“People were very cautious when they received the news [of the Machakos Protocol],” said Lazim Elbasha, deputy executive director of the Nuba Relief, Rehabilitation and Development Organization. “Unless this peace process is monitored by international friends and we have good guarantees, we will not be convinced with this process that is going on right now.”
Elbasha said that, ever since the Sudan government declared a jihad (Holy War) against the Nuba Mountains in 1992, there has been “genocide” in the area, with people being killed, and churches and even mosques destroyed.
He explained that, traditionally, religious tolerance in the Nuba Mountains is very high, with up to three religions – Christianity, Islam, and traditional African religion – found in one family.
“When those people [Sudan government] came in 1989, they imposed Sharia on Nuba, and made divisions among the families of Nuba,” he said, adding that even the Muslim population were called “infidels.” As a result of their experiences over the past 10 years, the people find it hard to believe that the Sudan government is sincere, he said.
“I found a very frightened community,” said Mitch Odero, executive director of All African News Agency (AANA), about his trip several weeks ago to villages in Upper Nile. “To them, Khartoum is so powerful.”
He said that during his trip, even as negotiators were talking in Machakos, the area where he visited was still declared a “no-fly zone” by the Sudan government, meaning that relief workers could not deliver badly-needed supplies to the people there.
On the question of self-determination for the south, the wording of the Machakos Protocol is ambiguous and very worrying for people on the ground, said Dr. Haruun Ruun, Executive Secretary of the New Sudan Council of Churches, which has among its projects the “People to People” peace process of reconciliation amongst warring communities in the south.
The Machakos Protocol states that: "the unity of the Sudan, based on the free will of its people, democratic governance, accountability, equality, respect, and justice for all citizens of the Sudan is and shall be the priority of the parties and that it is possible to redress the grievances of the people of South Sudan and to meet their aspirations within such a framework."
“The emphasis on unity for them is frightening,” said Ruun, who had just returned from a two-day consultation of communities in south Sudan. “They think this will override the self-determination… Is unity going to be used as a means of depriving southerners from carrying out their referendum?”
He said southerners told him that they are uncertain that, if they vote for secession in the referendum, the Sudan government would honour their decision.
People are also confused by the conflicting interpretations of the Machakos Protocol that they are getting from both sides, said Ruun. To the Sudan government, the agreement supports, and focuses on, the unity of Sudan, while the SPLM/A has implied that the agreement signifies the beginnings of self-determination for the south.
“After talking to people, I think the SPLA needs to formalize their interpretation of Machakos,” he said. “The SPLA needs to inform the people that this ‘is our stand’ so then we see how it differs from the other interpretation.”
People also believe that six years is too long to wait for the referendum, said Ruun. People are afraid that, during this time and in the midst of the ceasefire, Khartoum will have the chance to manipulate the referendum and peace process and re-group its army. Most people think that a period of two to three years is sufficient preparation time for the referendum, he said.
“Almost everybody is not happy with six years,” said Riak Majok, board member of the Bahr el Ghazal Youth Development Agency.
“Of course, there will be people saying that in these six years we will be able to educate our people in order to know whatever they are going to vote for,” he said. “In one way or another, everybody on the ground would like to separate from the Arabs immediately because they have suffered a lot and they don’t want more suffering.”
People believe that Egypt and other Muslim countries want to use Sudan as a gateway to spread Islam into East Africa and eventually across the continent, said Majok, adding that Egypt’s fear that a strong and independent south will threaten its water supply through controlling the Nile River is a smokescreen. “We don’t need Nile water,” he said, adding that the south has so many rivers and lakes of its own.
Another weakness with the negotiations is the fact that discussions on wealth sharing are only revolving around the sharing of oil wealth in the south, said Ruun. “What about in the north? Don’t they have things to be shared? Why is the emphasis on things in the south to be shared?” For instance, access to, and the revenues of, Port Sudan, the Gezira Scheme (a plantation of gum trees), and the Kenana sugar factory are initiatives in the north that can be shared with people in the south, said Ruun.
3. Khartoum: MACHAKOS PROTOCOL RECEIVES MIXED REACTIONSThe recently signed Machakos (a town in Kenya where the protocol was signed) protocol that is expected to usher the Sudan into the coveted ocean of peace, has yet generated a wave of heated debates in the capital Khartoum. Some views are in favour and fully support the protocol, while others almost condemn the deal. By: Dominic Ladu Hussein
Ghazi Suleiman, an Advocate and Human Rights Lawyer, also an Economist (he comes from the north) says, "I am for peace. I am an Advocate for peace in a new Sudan but I am against this particular document, the Machakos protocol."
He seems to believe that this protocol would eventually lead to the separation of the southern part of the country especially when he said, "Our programme is for a united and diversified Sudan. The Machakos protocol will lead to the separation of the South and the dismantling of the Sudan."
"Many regions in Sudan are suffering just like the South only that they do not have guns. However, they are still oppressed. Once the South goes, the Sudan itself will disappear," Suleiman asserted.
In fact, Suleiman fought for the rights of southerners caught up in urban Khartoum as Internally Displaced People (IDPs). "I am against religious and ethnic groups that do not respect others. I have campaigned for the catholic Club to go back to the Catholic Church and I have condemned the turning of the Church at the Republican Palace into a Mosque," he reiterated.
He is referring to the Catholic Church's only Club in Khartoum that was confiscated by the ruling
National Congress in 1998, and since turned into the party's headquarters. The reason for
confiscation of the Club is the its location. It faces the outlet from the Khartoum's International Airport such that visitors especially those from the Arab Countries are often amazed to be met by a cross right at their entrance into the city while the Sudan has been proclaimed an Arab and Islamic country.
The Church, which has been turned into the "mosque," is the Anglican Cathedral that was annexed to the Presidential Palace along the Blue Nile River. It has actually been turned into the palace's military guard headquarters but not into a mosque.
"I am consistent. I am the same person who is against dictatorship. I have no personal interests. I oppose the distortion of the country," said Suleiman. He said the inclusion of other political forces in the peace process would not help. "We are calling for the holding of a national constitutional conference to discuss all issues," he concluded.
Makuac Teng Youk, a Southerner and a State Minister in the Ministry of Federal Relations, warmly welcomes the protocol. "We welcome the protocol and I appeal to all political forces, especially those in the South to bless it," Youk said.
He said the southern Sudanese are suffering and they need peace. Despite our differences, we should support the Machakos deal," he asserted. He said the Machakos Peace Deal is an extension of the Khartoum Peace Agreement, which they signed in 1997. "It is built on the foundation we made," he said.
Youk, who is also the official spokesman of the United Democratic Salvation front (UDSF), a junior coalition partner in the government, which was formed by the signatories of the Khartoum Peace Agreement, said his party is for peace. "It does not matter who brings peace, what is important is the peace itself." He reiterated.
He called on both the government and the Sudan People's Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M) to include other political forces in the peace process. "You cannot confine the negotiations only to the government and the SPLA/M. Peace cannot be brought by Bashir and Garang alone," said he.
"Other political groups should be involved either as active participants or advisors. If both sides want people's support, they must include them in the negotiations and make a comprehensive peace," he added.
Meanwhile, the Union of Sudan African Parties (USAP) Secretary of Information and Mobilization, Peter Riek said the opposition parties that are not directly involved in the war should not be allowed to participate in the next round of peace talks which began on August 12 in Kenya. He explained that the participation of political forces in the talks would be a drawback for the peace process. "Personally, I do not like them to be involved," he stressed. He also stressed that the SPLA/M and the government of Sudan should be given a chance to work out a complete package of peace for the Sudanese people. "For us, we do not mind who brings peace, but the government and the SPLA/M have better chances," he said.
He perceives that the role of the other political forces is to throw their weight behind the efforts of the government and the SPLA/M. "The intention of the northern-based political parties is to break down a just peace settlement. Their plan is always to get peace without settling the issue of separation of religion from state, which the Machakos Protocol has resolved. They want to undermine that process," he asserted.
According to Riek, "the deal is fair compared to the Addis Ababa Accord of 1972 and the Khartoum Peace Agreement of 1997 because the agreement on self-determination and separation of religion from state is a major breakthrough."
"The Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Sudan (ELC) has received the good news of peace and the signing of the Machakos Protocol between the Sudan Government and SPLA/M with great delight and appreciation," says the ELC press release published in the Khartoum Monitor issue of July 30, 2002.
However diverse the opinions are, this protocol has received a nationwide acceptance. The Sudan Council of Churches (SCC), The Southern Sudan Student Union (SOSSU), and the United Democratic Salvation Front (UDSDF) the party composed of the southerners who signed the Khartoum Peace Agreement and now enjoys a tiny coalition with the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) as well as Women Organizations, have expressed their acceptance of the protocol in the widely read English Daily, the Khartoum Monitor.
On the human-interest part of it, as soon as news of the breakthrough in the peace talks reached Daud (from the Nuba Mountains but based in Khartoum as a displaced person and not even impressed by the Nuba mountains ceasefire) he dived into a canal beside the Independence Street in the city center. That scene attracted a lot people.
Asked why he did that, he said, "why so soon! I cannot believe it. Peace in Sudan! It must come over my dead body." That action was interpreted as a "peace shock." At the government level, top officials seem unable to behave, a sign that this deal took them off-guard. It is not a homegrown peace deal. It must have been imposed. Critiques inside doubt very much that this government could voluntarily sign a protocol that includes self-determination for the south and separation of religion from state.
The first Vice President, Ali Taha, an Islamist hardliner, has sarcastically said he would be more than happy to relinquish his position if John Garang wants it. But sources close to the Vice President say he is not happy with the Machakos protocol.
Egypt is not happy with the Machakos Protocol. "An advisor to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak reiterated Cairo's opposition to the partition of Sudan in remarks in Khartoum Monitor, August 1, 2002, following the signing of a landmark self-determination agreement for the country's war-torn south."
There also seems to be a rift among the ranks of the ruling National Congress Party with supporters of Ali Taha on the one side, and the supporters of Omer Al-Bashir on the other. The Machakos Protocol disgusts Taha’s supporters as they had vowed not to allow the south to break off. They claim that the government's acceptance of the right to self-determination for the south is a slap on the face of the martyrs like former Vice President Zubeir Salih, Mohamed Shams El Din and others. These two died in a plane crash while on a dubious mission southwards of the country.
Ironically, the death of Shams el Din brought a sigh of relief to southerners because this he was behind the massacre of southern intellectuals and officers in Juba in 1992 after SPLA soldiers infiltrated the town and virtually captured it for a few days before withdrawing. He has been accused of gross human rights violations ranging from extra judicial killings to tortures and shooting officers right in the front line for inefficiency and complicity with the rebels.
4. All set for peace breakthrough
Following the Machakos protocol of July 20, IGAD member states and the Arab countries of Yemen, Syria and Saudi Arabia are optimistic that the agreement will lead to a ceasefire on the 19- year civil war pitting the Sudan government against the Sudanese People Liberation Army (SPLA)
By Linda Frommer
The government of Sudan and the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA) announced July 20 that they had reached an agreement on a framework for ending the civil war that has rocked the country since 1983. The agreement was reached in Nairobi under the auspices of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) led by Kenyan President Daniel Arap Moi and his special envoy to the talks, Lt. Gen. Lazaro Sumbeiywo.
The agreement was followed a week later by discussions in Kampala, Uganda, between John Garang and Sudan President Omar el-Bashir. Following the meeting, President Beshir told the press, "After we met with President Museveni, there have been developments. These developments have eased the tension in the war the considerably, but it is hoped that a ceasefire agreement would be agreed on once both parties meet in Kenya in August."
The breakthrough, termed the Machakos Protocol, centers on concessions from the Sudan government on the overriding issues of self-determination, religious freedom, secularism as the national stance, and regional autonomy in the south. For its part, the SPLA wanted the borders of the south to be limited to those from 1955 and not enlarged, a sticking point on previous negotiations. "We are talking of a new Sudan," SPLA spokesman Samson Kwaje told the press July 22. "There will be an overhaul of the central administration."
"The parties have reached specific agreement on the Right to Self-Determination for the people of South Sudan, State and Religion," the Machakos Protocol states at the outset. But it also notes as its first principle that "the unity of the Sudan, based on the free will of its people, democratic governance, accountability, equality, respect, and justice for all citizens of the Sudan is and shall be the priority of the parties and that is possible to redress the grievances of the people of South Sudan and to meet their aspirations within such a framework traditions.
The agreement came as the result of the new international context first marked by the coming to power in Washington of the Bush administration and its shift in policy toward Sudan away from the hardened war stance of the previous Clinton administration. President Bush appointed a special envoy to Sudan, Sen. John Danforth, who negotiated a ceasefire and agreement for the Nuba Mountains region.
The shift was accelerated by the events of September 11. Relations with Sudan became a higher priority with a two-fold objective: gain Sudan's collaboration in the war against terrorism and also gain access to Sudan oil exports as part of a U.S. policy to find in Africa alternatives to reliance on Mid -eastern oil. In short, as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Walter Kansteiner stated, African oil "has become of national strategic interest to us."
Accordingly, the United States has put quiet but heavy pressure on both Khartoum and the SPLA to come to the negotiating table in a serious manner and end the war that has claimed more than 2 million Sudanese lives over the last 19 years. Immediately after the announcement of the protocol, the Sudan government announced that a three-year "diplomatic offensive" to gain the support of the international community for the peace agreement and also securing the support of the country's Arab allies who have helped finance the government's war since 1995.
The African Union, the successor organization to the Organization of African Unity, affirmed its support for the agreement in a statement issued Aug. 2. On the Arab side, the education ministers of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Syria were in Khartoum Aug. 8, and according to the Sudan News Agency Suna , affirmed their governments' support for the peace process. Saudi Crown Prince, Abdallah Bin-Abd-al-Aziz, reported Suna, sent a message to President Beshir related Saudi support for the Machakos Protocol. Abu Dhabi has also signaled its support for the agreement.
However, closer to home, the plan was greeted with suspicion by the Egyptian government, which is committed to maintaining the unity of Sudan at practically all costs because it believes that is the only way to ensure the continued flow of the Nile River waters to a parched Egypt. An article in the Egyptian government newspaper Al-Ahram Aug. 4 charged that the major objective of the United States in pressuring for an end to the Sudan civil war "is to eliminate the Egyptian-Libyan influence and to abort their initiative and to separate the south of Sudan from the north on any basis.
Although Egypt had been invited to attend the IGAD-sponsored negotiations in Machakos as an observer, she declined. However, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher told visiting Sudanese Minister of Information Mahdi Ibrahim Aug. 3 in Cairo that "Egypt supports unity [of Sudan] in the context of one country in which all people have their own rights."
However, it is recognized by the Sudan government that if Sudan is to remain one country, then it must find the means to deliver development and progress to the southern Sudan, where modern infrastructure, medical services, electricity, and economic production is practically nonexistent. Gutbi Mahdi, a political adviser to Bashir, was quoted by Suna as urging Arab states to support economic development in southern Sudan to persuade the south to remain within the Union. Even before the Machakos Protocol was announced, on July 14, the Islamic Development Bank agreed to finance the expansion of the southern Sudan Roseras Reservoir, which will boost electricity generation in the area by 50 percent. But that is only a tiny fraction of the development efforts required for the devastated south.
The most important support required for the peace agreement, however, is the support of the people of southern Sudan. The Machakos Protocol is not dissimilar to the Khartoum Agreement of April 1997, which was signed by Dr. Riek Machar and seven other leaders of the southern opposition. That agreement called for a referendum after three years, and Machar became the chairman of the Southern Sudan Coordinating Council and a vice president of Sudan.
John Garang and the SPLA did not agree to the Khartoum Charter, and with the active support of Washington, Garang continued to fight in the south. When the oil resources of Unity state in the south, under the jurisdiction of Machar, were opened up for export in 1998, the Sudan government abrogated the agreement by taking military possession of the oil fields, forcing Machar to withdraw from the agreement and head back south. Now, Machar's armed forces have joined the SPLA again in an uneasy and increasingly fragile alliance. Given the strength of Machar's fighting forces and also their presence in the oil regions of the country, no peace can be expected to last without the support of Machar and his commanders.
Whereas, the Southern Sudan Council of Churches has issued cautious and qualified support for the protocol, the Sudanese Civil Society of the south has condemned the Machakos Protocol, and called upon the United States to effectively continue to back the war effort. As negotiations open for the second round of the Machakos Protocol, it will be up to the Sudan government to make the concessions that ensure the people of southern Sudan that they will have full rights of citizenship in a unified and hopefully prospering Sudan.
Part II- Northern Uganda briefs
For the first time since December 2000, when Ebola fever struck Northern Uganda, the New York Times took notice of the plight of the Acholi people of the region whose lives have been shredded by the 17-year war between the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) of Joseph Kony and the Ugandan government of President Yoweri Museveni. In a story entitled “Uganda’s Terror Crackdown Multiplies the Suffering,” Times correspondent Mark Lacey writes from Gulu that the Ugandan and Sudanese governments both took advantage of the placement of the LRA on the State Department list of terrorist organizations to root out the LRA from its hiding grounds inside Sudan, launching Operation Iron Fist in late Februay. The result has not been the decimation of the LRA, but the return of the “Olum”—as the Acholis called Kony’s group of captive child soldiers—into the three districts of northern Uganda. From the mountainous regions that run along the Ugandan-Sudan border, Kony’s rebels have increased their terror strikes against Northern Ugandan civilians even hitting deep inside the country as far south as Lira.
This was precisely the outcome predicted by the Acholi Religious Leaders’ Peace Initiative led by Catholic Archbishop John Baptist Odama and Anglican Bishop Macleord Ochola. The ARPLI has been working to force peace negotiations between the LRA and the Museveni government, noting that Kony was ready to talk both in 1999 and 1994, but both negotiating attempts were scuttled by the Museveni government. Peace is important not only to end the assault on the Acholi people, but also to bring home the children Kony has abducted from the districts and that have become the chief cannon fodder for his rebel group. The ARPLI and the region’s elders want to bring these children—now believed to be about 6,000 in number—home for rehabilitation and reconciliation with the Acholi community.
The disruption of the Kony camps in southern Sudan, however, has resulted in the freeing of some of women and young children by the rebels. The Missionary News Service (Misna) reported on such “wife” of an LRA commander who managed to make the long trek back to Uganda from the Rubanga Tek camp in southern Sudan. Carrying her youngest child and pregnant with another, she walked six to eight hours each day, at times coming under heavy fire from the Ugandan Popular Defense Forces (UPDF). According to her story, “with the Ugandan soldiers in hot pursuit, the rebels did not hesitate to leave behind the weaker ones, or often to eliminate those that did not keep up. To make the situatoin more tragic, aside from the incessant rain and desperation of the made escape, was the malaria. Sixty-six people died along the road in thet two-week march.” She, along with 30 other “wives” and children were released by the LRA commanders once they had arrived in Uganda. She is now under the care of Caritas in Kitgum. In the last month, the LRA attacks in the district have increased in tempo and ferocity, as the following chronology shows:
13: LRA attacked and burned down huts in Lukome, and abducted several people. 14: LRA clashed with the UPDF at Aroyo in Madi Opei, Kitgum district, with 30 rebels reportedly killed. Five rebels were killed in a clash in Okun-Gedi. The LRA burned several huts in Alokolum and set a UPDF detachment afire at Seven Corner.
15: LRA abducted 20 children at Keyo, burned down two houses, and stabbed a woman. 17: LRA aducted 5 people and killed the defense security for Local Council 1 at Agwee in Laroo division of Gulu. Kony and 150 rebels entered the country, according to New Vision. Four people were abducted at Laweny village on the road leading to Patiko subcounty. Two men of the four were released, but the younger ones were taken.
18: LRA attacked Kasubi area, Gulu, shooting to UPDF soldiers. LRA attacked Attiak, with eight people dying in the exchange of fire between the rebels and UPDF.
21: LRA burned down 346 huts at Aparanga camp, abducting several people. 23: LRA released 13 women and 18 children (see above) at Pajule in Pader District. LRA burned a vehicle along the Gulu-Kitgum Road. LRA group attacked Coo-Pe camp in the morning, burning 83 huts and abducting 7 people, of whom 6 were released. LRA raided Namakora Lapana in Chua County, Kitgum District, and abducted several children between the ages of 8 and 20, and also the elderly brother to the late Gen. Tito Okello Lutwa. The government of Uganda launched an appeal for $21.5 million to help the civilian victims of northern Uganda. Money is required for food aid.
24: LRA killed 46 people in an attack at Mucwini in Kitgum district. LRA raided Ariyaga north of Gulu, burning down 33 huts, abducting 4 people, of whom three were later released. 25: LRA abducted 7 girls and 10 boys at Lukome. LRA killed a UPDF soldier near Cwero. 27: LRA group released a second group of about 50 people, all of them women and children. LRA ambushed and burned a trick at Loyo-Ajonga, Gulu.
30: Gulu MP Reagan Okumu reported that the LRA has completely withdrawn from Sudan and is now settled in the area of Aboro. Okumu reported that the number of “mobile displaced persons”—aside from the 550,000 internally displaced people in camps—is 40,000 at Lacor Hospital alone. He said schools in the three districts are closing for fear of attack. 31: LRA attacked Acholi Pii camp of Sudanese refugees near Lira in Lira district but were repulsed by UPDF. LRA attacks Purangao subcounty in Pader District, killing four.
August 1: President Museveni arrives in Gulu to “streamline UPDF weaknesses” and to oversee Operation Iron Fist.
5: LRA attacked Acholi Pii camp, overrunning the camp. Up to 60 people are reported dead, many of them mowed down as they tried to escape into the bush. Among the dead were 8 UPDF soldiers. LRA abducted 15 people in the attack, including four workers of the International Rescue Committee, which administers the camp. The rebels destroyed the dispensary and the church. 6: LRA released 19 captives at Amuru subcounty, Nwoya, Gulu District, and another 11 at Awere in Aruu, Pader.
8: LRA isues ultimatum to all United Nations and other aid agencies, demanding that they pull out of northern Uganda by Aug. 14, as a condition for the release of four aid workers for the International Rescue Committee.
9: LRA released 28 girls from Gwengdiya parish in Awach subcountry, and another 50 men and women from Ogul village in Aswa. LRA attacked Bungatira, a suburb north of Gulu, with three-hour battle with UPDF. Minister of Defence Amana Mbabazi reports that the UPDF has captured anti-aircraft missiles (SAM 16) from the LRA. He also announced that the agreement with Sudan for pursuit of the LRA inside Sudan is due to expire the third week of August. 12: LRA releases four aid workers from the International Rescue Committee.
Part III - Horn of Africa briefs
16:Ethiopia reportedly witnessed an encouraging economic performance, with a remarkable increase in real Growth Domestic Product (GDP). according to the Economic Report on Africa (ERA 2002), Ethiopia’s real GDP growth averaged six percent a year during 1992-2001.
The report further indicated that Ethiopia’s exports grew by about five percent a year, annual inflation averaged about four percent and by 2000/01, investment had risen to 16 percent of GDP.
"--- and the positive trends are expected to continue, with GDP growth of 7.0 percent in 2001/02," it said.
19: The Italian cabinet decided to return the Axum obelisk that has been looted from Ethiopia more than sixty years ago, ministry of foreign affairs said.
The ministry said that the Italian ministry of foreign affairs faxed the decision of the cabinet to the Ethiopian embassy in Rome.
The Italian government signed agreements in 1947,1956 and 1997 to return the monument to the rightful owners, the Ethiopian people, it said.
22: Ethiopia and Djibouti have expressed desire to further consolidate the existing bilateral relations between the two sisterly countries, presidents of the two countries said.
President Girma Wolde-Giorgis and Djiboutian president Ismail Omar Guelleh said the governments of the two countries were also exerting utmost efforts to enhance the people to people relations in the years ahead.
Ethiopia and Djibouti have recently taken constructive measures believed to be instrumental in revitalizing their cooperation particularly in the political and socio-economic spheres, the presidents indicated.
They said the two countries were exerting joint efforts to realize the prevalence of peace and in the horn of Africa in accordance with the established principles of the Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
1: The chairman of the Rahanweyn Resistance Army (RRA), Col Hasan Muhammad Nur Shatigadud, took full control of the southern town of Baidoa, a local source told IRIN. Baidoa, is the headquarters of the RRA, and has been the scene of fierce factional fighting between two RRA factions over the past month. The fighting first broke out on 1 July between forces loyal to Shatigadud and those of his two deputies, Shaykh Adan Madobe and Muhammad Ibrahim Habsade, in an apparent power struggle.
5: Some 37 HIV/AIDS Surveillance Stations established in rural and urban areas with the objective of studying the magnitude of the epidemic in order to be able to launch a consolidated preventive activities begun operation, the Ministry of Health.
Diseases Prevention and Control Department Head with the ministry, Alemayheu Seifu said the establishment of the stations is believed to be instrumental in the HIV/AIDS prevention activities as the they could identify the impact of the pandemic on the society.
He was speaking to a five-day workshop organized for health professionals to review the situation of HIV/AIDS and other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).
5: The United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) has announced plans to provide demining support for the demarcation of the border between the countries. UNMEE's move is based on the expectation that the UN Security Council will soon formally mandate the Mission to provide such aid, UNMEE spokeswoman Diane Bailey said.
"By the end of this week, all three UNMEE MACC Boundary Commission personnel will have assumed duties," she said. The three lieutenant-colonels from Sweden, the Netherlands and Ukraine will respectively perform the functions of boundary commission project officer, military liaison officer in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, and field military liaison officer in Adigrat, northern Ethiopia. 7: The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) confirmed that Simret Seyoum of the banned private weekly Setit has been in detention since early January 2002. In a statement released on 6 August, the committee said Simret - a writer and manager of the publication - was arrested on 6 January while attempting to cross the Eritrean border into Sudan in a mini-van. The van's driver and passengers were arrested after border control agents opened fire on the van and gave chase. At least one passenger, a journalist, escaped and reached the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, days later, the CPJ reported.
It described Simret as a "hero of Eritrea's 30-year independence war against Ethiopia". He is reportedly being held in solitary confinement at the Hadish Maaskar detention facility near Gyrmayka, on the Sudanese border.
7: Former Asmara University Student Union President Semere Kesete was reported to have escaped from detention and is now in Ethiopia, a source in the Eritrean capital, Asmara. According to reports, he arrived in Ethiopia on 1 August, accompanied by "one of his prison guards", after walking for five days, the pro-Ethiopian government Walta Information Centre reported.
Semere was arrested in 2001 with some 3,000 other students after accusing the government of interference in university affairs and student summer work programmes. Most of the students were later released.
8: The Netherlands government signed a pledge of 3.9 million euros (US $3.8 million) for Ethiopia's tuberculosis (TB) and leprosy control programme, the Royal Netherlands Embassy in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, announced. "Within the context of poverty reduction and sector-wide approaches, the two sides decided last year to concentrate development efforts on three sectors: health, education and food security," the embassy said.
Most of the money will be used to buy anti-TB drugs, laboratory reagents and equipment. The embassy said the rest would support the technical activities of the control programme at the Ethiopian Ministry of Health.
The grant is part of the 24-million-euro ($23.2 million) annual budget of the Netherlands-Ethiopian Development Cooperation.
12: United Nations officials welcomed the release, on 2 August, of 15 Ethiopian prisoners of war (POWs) by Eritrea. In a statement released on 9 August, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinsoncommended Eritrea for resuming the process of releasing POWs, describing the move as a "positive step" towards reinforcing peace between it and Ethiopia. "This is a positive development after the long standstill which has characterised the process of releasing prisoners of war so far," she said.
Robinson said she hoped the releases would continue and encouraged both governments to build on the momentum thereby gained to address other outstanding issues. She added that this "significant development" confirmed the path chosen by both countries towards peaceful coexistence and cooperation.
The 15 POWs were released at the Mereb River Bridge, which links Eritrea with Ethiopia. The process was observed by the Human Rights Office of the UN Mission (UNMEE) in both countries and assisted by the International Committee of the Red Cross.
13: Col Abdullahi Yusuf captured the town of Qardho, 240 km south of Bosaso, the commercial capital of the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland, northeastern Somalia, a local journalist reported.
Forces loyal to Abdullahi entered the town without a fight, with forces loyal to his rival for the presidency of the region, Jama Ali Jama, having retreated, said Fadumo Yasin of the Bosaso-based Midnimo radio. Qardho is a strategically important town and was one of Jama's last remaining strongholds.
13: The oil tanker, reported as having been hijacked off the northeastern coast of Somalia, is not UK-registered, but rather a North Korean-registered, Greek-owned vessel. Members of the crew, who had been disembarked, were still being held in various locations "in and around" the coastal village of Bareda, 150 km east of Bosaso, the commercial capital of the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland, Mukhtar Sa'id of the Bosaso-based Midnimo Radio, told IRIN.
The 15 militia who originally seized the tanker, using speedboats, had now been joined by "many other militia from the area" said Mukhtar. The hijackers were now reportedly asking for a ransom of US $600,000, he said.
15: The Horn of Africa region has become a leading destination for illicit weapons, which have in turn fuelled insecurity, economic decline, and political instability, a small arms conference in Nairobi was told. Bettina Gruber, the head of administration at the German Technical Cooperation Agency (GTZ), said this had caused untold human suffering among the region's civilian population.
"Nowhere in Africa is the concentration and effect of illicit small arms felt more than in the Horn of Africa sub-region," she said.
15: The mandate of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) is adjusted to include mine clearance, and administrative and logistical support for the field offices of the independent Boundary Commission, the UN reported.
A resolution adopted by the UN Security Council stated that the adjustment would permit UNMEE to assist in the "expeditious and orderly" implementation of the Boundary Commission's decision on the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
15: The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) sponsored Somali reconciliation conference is scheduled to convene on 16 September, in the town of Eldoret, western Kenya, A Kenyan foreign ministry official told IRIN.
Kenyan Foreign Minister Marsden Madoka told a press conference in Nairobi on Wednesday that the prospects for a successful conference were good, because the TNG and all the Somali faction leaders had told the IGAD technical committee they would attend it.
Contact: Clement Njoroge, Editor, Africanews