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September 15 – October 15, 2002


Part I – Sudan

1. Back to the table
2. Chronology

Part II- Northern Uganda briefs

Part III- Horn of Africa briefs

Part 1 – Sudan

1. Back to the table

By Cathy Majtenyi

The Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) headed back to the negotiating table October 14 in Machakos, Kenya, appearing to have been compelled to do so by the international community.

Until the first week of October, prospects for the two sides coming back together to iron out the details of the historic Machakos Protocol appeared shaky. As late as September 28, the Government of Sudan said it would only resume talks if there was a ceasefire between the two sides and if the SPLA promised not to bring up issues that the government says have already been covered in previous talks.

But on October 4, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a group of African countries that is facilitating the talks, announced that both sides have agreed to resume talks on October 14, with no preconditions.

On the first day of the resumed talks, the two sides are expected to sign a Memorandum of Understanding that will cease hostilities while negotiations are taking place, Dr. Samson L. Kwaje, official spokesperson for the SPLM/A, told The East African.

“The IGAD mediators have suggested that the SPLM/A and the Government of Sudan will observe cessation of hostilities while talking,” so that there can be a “conducive environment” during the talks, he said.

The fact that the Government of Sudan is returning to Machakos without a guarantee of a ceasefire and other preconditions suggests that it may be being pushed to do so.

In an interview in mid-September several weeks after Machakos II collapsed, Dirdeiry Ahmed, Charge D’affairs in the Embassy of Sudan in Nairobi told The East African that the Government of Sudan is under “tremendous pressure” from “all corners of the globe” to return to the table.

“It is always better to have a convinced partner willingly coming to negotiate rather than somebody who has been brought under pressure,” he had said. “If the international community is going to intervene and just ask the government to go back to the table for negotiations, period, otherwise we’re going to do so and so, this will not be fair to the government and will not be fair to the cause of peace itself.”

However, when asked whether the Sudan government was under international pressure to come back to Machakos now, Ahmed told The East African: “I don’t think I’d be in a position right now to talk on that subject.”

“After we left Machakos, there was a lot of international pressure on both sides, from the Americans, the British, from envoys, President Moi,” said Kwaje. “For us, there was no pressure on us [to come back now]. We’ve been saying all along that we are at the table – the Government of Sudan walked away.

“But I think there was a lot of pressure on Khartoum to come back,” he said. “If there is that attitude [that they have been pressured], then I’m afraid that the government may come back with a half-hearted approach, so I’m not confident that we can really tackle the issues. But I hope that they can come not just because they are pressurized but really to come and talk peace.”

The second round of talks began in mid-August following the signing of the historic Machakos Protocol on July 20 by Dr. Ghazi Salahuddin Atabani representing the Sudan government, and Commander Salva Kiir Mayardit on behalf of the SPLM/A.

The Machakos Protocol 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 Sudan or secede. The protocol and associated negotiations seek to end Sudan’s 19-year civil war, which has killed an estimated two million people.

During Machakos II, the two sides were supposed to have ironed out issues contained within the protocol and its implementation. On September 2, however, the Sudan government pulled out of the talks following the capture of Torit by the SPLA, saying that it could not negotiate while hostilities continued on the ground.

The SPLM/A had also “backtracked on so many (points) made in the Machakos Protocol,” Ahmed had told The East African. He said that, during Machakos II, the SPLM/A had called for a secular capital, two states (one set in the north, and one set in the south), and the redefinition of the “south” to include the Nuba Mountains, southern Blue Nile, and Abyei, issues that were not up for discussion since they were already dealt with in the first round, he said.

According to Kwaje, the government ended the talks because “Khartoum does not want to share power with the SPLM/A. They want to absorb the SPLM/A into their system.”

Topping the agenda of the latest round are issues dealing with power sharing, wealth sharing (particularly of oil revenues), human rights, and the rule of law. The second part will focus on security arrangements, which include a ceasefire and who is to be in charge of security in the south.

In recent weeks, there has been a flurry of international movement to get the Government of Sudan and the SPLM/A talking together again.

Leading up to IGAD’s October 4 announcement were visits to both sides by Tom Eric Vraalsen, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's envoy to Sudan, a message by President Moi to Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir, and other meetings.

On October 7, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that, among other things, empowers President George Bush to impose economic sanctions against Sudan if the U.S. determines that the Government of Sudan is not negotiating in good faith to end the war. Weeks before that, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Walter Kansteiner urged the Sudan government to resume negotiations.

Observers are greeting the latest round of talks with cautious optimism.

“I know that there was international community pressure on both parties,” said Lazim Suleiman Elbasha, deputy executive director of the Nuba Relief, Rehabilitation and Development Organization (NRRDO) based in Nairobi.

“Due to this pressure, they [both sides] will come,” he said. “The pressure is for the good of the people, because they are fed up with the war and they want peace. Also, the international community wants peace for Sudan.”

Elbasha said negotiators need to discuss: the re-definition of the south to include the Nuba Mountains and other areas; the issue of self-determination; the Sudan government’s lifting of jihad (Holy War) against the Nuba Mountains and other areas; the respecting of human rights; and other issues.

“We are very much in need of peace,” he said. “We need the help of every person, every country, the United Nations, and in particular the friends of Sudan to bring peace and an end to the conflict.”


September 15: A top government advisor outlined the conditions under which the Government of Sudan will come back to the negotiating table with the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA). The SPLA must withdraw from Torit in southern Sudan, agree to a truce and respect agreements in place such as "the relation between religion and state, the boundary of the south, the issue of self-determination, and the claim for a confederation by the rebel movement".

15: Khartoum agreed to a visit in October by UN human rights rapporteur Gerhart Baum after refusing to meet him in Khartoum earlier this month. Baum was requesting details on how Khartoum spends its oil revenues.

16: Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Ismail says that a military strike against Iraq is "imminent" and will be launched from U.S. bases in Arab states.

16: The SPLA denied claims by Sudan's ambassador in Egypt, Ahmed Abdul Haleem, that the SPLA is receiving arms and training from Israel. He dismissed these claims as lies aimed at drumming up support from the Islamic world.

17: Officials from the European Union call upon Khartoum and the SPLA to return to the suspended peace talks as soon as possible. Greece's ambassador says the EU is ready to back the peace process and urges the two sides to resume negotiations as soon as possible.

17: The Brussels-based think-tank International Crisis Group (ICG) released a report, “Sudan’s Best Chance for Peace: How Not to Lose It,” which urged mediators to encourage proposals that favour the country's unity rather than secession of the south, arguing that Khartoum is likely to stick to the peace process with the SPLA if it believed that the risk of partition is minor. The SPLA's interest in the peace process will, on the other hand, be sustained if it is assured of the government's commitment to the "redistribution of national power and wealth," the report said.

18: USAID’s Famine Early Warning System Networks (FEWS Net) reports that the food security situation facing western Upper Nile (Wahdah State) is "precarious,” having deteriorated over the last month due to continued conflict. Also, thousands of people displaced by fighting from Western Upper Nile into neighbouring Bahr-al Ghazal (whose prospects for the coming harvest are “poor”) and Jonglei States had lost the benefits of the current agricultural season as they have been forced to leave before harvesting their crops, it says.

18: Sudanese special envoy Mahdi Ibrahim says that the SPLA must accept a ceasefire, and withdraw from Torit, before the government of President Omar el-Bashir will return to the negotiating table.

18: The SPLA reported that the government attacked several SPLA positions in south Sudan over the past few days and bombed several villages, killing more than 40 civilians as they slept.

19: Presidential peace adviser Ghazi Salah Eddin told British peace envoy Alan Goulty that Khartoum would only resume peace talks with the SPLA if they agree to a full ceasefire. Eddin, quoted in an official statement, argued that a "cessation of hostilities during the negotiations" was a precondition because it would "provide an atmosphere free of tension."

19: The Sudanese government plans to sell 74 percent of state-owned Bank of Khartoum, the largest in the country. The shares are worth around US$100 million and will be offered to local and foreign investors, says Salah Abdel Aziz, secretary of the bank's board of directors. The state will retain a 26 percent stake in the bank.

20: Interior Minister Major General Abdel Rahim Mohammed Hussein advised people in the southern provinces to prepare to defend their largest city Juba against a possible assault by the SPLA, because of the SPLA’s September 2 capture of the town of Torit some 135 km away.

20: Foreign Minister Mustafa Ismail said the US had promised to help the Sudan government to reach a ceasefire with the SPLA. Ismail said this during a meeting with his U.S. counterpart, Colin Powell.

20: A 30-year-old former Sudanese military pilot identified as Mekki Hamed Mekki and suspected of planning anti-American attacks is being held in the US. The pilot is accused of having links to the al-Qaeda terrorist network believed to be planning to hijack an airliner for an attack on the White House on September 11 of last year.

21: Indian Oil Minister Ram Naik says ONGC Videsh, the overseas arm of India's national oil exploration company Oil and Natural Gas Corp. (P.ONG), will likely complete the purchase of Canada's Talisman Energy Inc.'s (TLM) stake in Sudan by the end of October. India is keen to expand exploration and production operations across the globe.

21: Sudan’s Ambassador in London, Dr Hasan Abdin, announces that Sudanese ambassadors in Europe and North America are expected to meet in London on September 26 and 27 to discuss a post-war strategy, strengthen Sudan’s foreign relations, and drum up support for the reconstruction of war-ravaged areas.

21: Sudan’s second Vice-president Prof Moses Machar says that the government is committed to resuming peace talks if the SPLA show commitment to what had been agreed upon in Machakos (Kenya) and halt all military hostilities. He says the state would provide the displaced people in Juba fleeing from Torit with their major requirements.

21: Raiders from Sudan, on horseback and camels, massacre several dozen villagers in the north of the Central African Republic this month. Witnesses say that the raiders, who were backed by poachers from Am Dafog in Sudan's western Darfur province, were avenging a tribal attack.

22: State Minister Najeeb Al-Khair Abdel-Wahab says Sudanese diplomats in Washington are contacting US officials to learn more about the case of Sudanese pilot Mekki Hamed Mekki, who is being held on immigration charges as investigators try to determine if he is an al-Qaida operative.

22: Abdel Halim al-Mutaafi, the governor of Khartoum state, said the government would not intervene to curb a rise in Khartoum bread prices, which have climbed between 25 and 50 percent in the last three days and sparked protests. He said the rise in bread prices is due to globally high wheat prices.

23: Bombs dropped from Sudanese government aircraft have killed 35 people in southern Sudan in the past five days, said the SPLA. A SPLA statement said the heaviest death toll occurred at Amadi camp for displaced persons near Lui in Western Equatoria province, where 22 people were killed and dozens more wounded.

24: Khartoum said that the US is satisfied with Sudan’s cooperation in the fight against terrorism and was not pushing to send U.S. troops into the country to hunt for al-Qaida elements.

25: Sudanese charge d'Affaires to Uganda Surajuddin Mohammed assured Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni that President Bashir and the Sudanese government are committed to upholding the protocol, signed in March, that allows Ugandan forces to hunt for Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels operating in southern Sudan.

26: The SPLA accused the Sudan government of launching attacks on three SPLA fronts in Upper Nile and Eastern Equatoria.

26: The International Monitoring Team, created under the Civilian Protection Agreement, announced that it would begin operations in southern Sudan within a week to investigate allegations of intentional attacks on civilians by the government, the SPLA and surrogate militia forces.

26: The state owned SUNA news agency reported that Sudanese government troops and the Popular Defence Forces had recaptured Midel area in the southern Blue Nile province, inflicting "heavy losses" on the SPLA.

26: A Sudanese military plane dropped three bombs on the Ugandan army detachment at Palotaka in southern Sudan, injuring seriously three Ugandan soldiers. Ugandan Defence Minister Amama Mbabazi says his Sudanese counterpart apologized and blamed the incident on pilots who had missed their targets.

26: The government of Sudan banned all UN relief flights into Eastern and Western Equatoria provinces in southern Sudan for nine days, leading to speculation that the government is about to launch a major military offensive against the SPLA. There was no immediate explanation for the ban from the government in Khartoum.

26: Judge Ahmed Hajj Nour, the former head of the Khartoum Court of Appeal who helped introduce Islamic law in Sudan and later volunteered to fight southern rebels, was killed in a southern battle zone.

27: U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher condemned the Sudanese government's recent bombing of civilian areas in southern Sudan and urges Khartoum to resume peace talks with the SPLA. He noted in particular a September 21 attack that killed at least 13 people, including four children, at a cattle farm.

27: Major Shaban Bantariza, spokesman of the Uganda army, says Uganda was investigating whether an aerial attack on its troops by Sudanese fighter planes, which injured three soldiers, was intentional or was a mistake. Analysts say the current bombing may sour relations between the two countries.

27: The SPLA announced that it would stop fighting to try to create a conducive atmosphere for the resumption of stalled peace talks with the government. "The SPA is prepared to create a conducive atmosphere during the talks. This will be by way of observing restraint and not engaging in offensive military operations during the peace talks," said the SPLA statement.

27: Concerned that the prospect of peace in Sudan may once again be fading, the State Department's top official for Africa has urged the government of Sudan to join the SPLA in agreeing to end of hostilities and resume negotiations. "The SPLA has stepped up to the plate. They have agreed to days of tranquillity, they are ready to go back to the table any time and now it's Khartoum's turn," Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Walter Kansteiner said.

27: Khartoum announced it welcomed an offer from the SPLA of a "temporary ceasefire" in return for a resumption of peace talks. A presidential peace advisory panel, representing the government, said in a statement that Khartoum's acceptance was aimed at "reaching fruitful results and genuine peace."

27: All humanitarian flights from northern Kenya to strife-torn southern Sudan were grounded after Khartoum imposed a flight ban in the region after fighting escalated between government troops and the SPLA, a UN spokesman said in Nairobi. "All flights are grounded as from this morning," said Martin Dawes, spokesman for the UN-sponsored multi-agency aid group Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS).

27: The SPLA said its forces had killed 1,000 government troops in several days of heavy fighting near the southern town of Torit, which government forces are trying to recapture. The SPLA said in a statement it had shot down a helicopter gunship and killed 250 Sudanese troops as they attacked Lafon, a SPLA-held town 60 km northwest of Torit.

28: Khartoum denied SPLA claims that it lost more than 1,000 soldiers in a failed attempt to recapture Torit. The declarations of the SPLA spokesman Yasser Armane "are unfounded", said a statement from the office of army spokesman Mohammed Beshir Suleiman.

28: A media-monitoring group sent a letter to the U.S. government requesting information on reports that an employee of the Arab satellite channel al-Jazeera was being held at a U.S. naval base in Cuba. The letter by the Committee to Protect Journalists requested information on assistant cameraman Sami al-Haj, a Sudanese national who, according to al-Jazeera, was being detained at Guantanamo's Camp Delta along with al-Qaida suspects.

28: The Kenyan Special Envoy for Peace in Sudan, Gen L Sumbeiywo was due to Khartoum on 1 October to conduct talks with the Sudanese officials on the recent developments in the peace process in Sudan. The minister of foreign affairs, Dr Mustafa Osman Isma’il, announced this.

28: Sudan reiterated its position of demanding declaration of a ceasefire as a condition for resuming suspended peace talks with the SPLA. The so-called Sovereignty Sector stressed that the government would return to the talks only after declaration of a ceasefire and an SPLA commitment not to raise issues already resolved by the first round of talks, said presidential press adviser Abbas Ibrahim al-Nour.

29: A Saudi billionaire, Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, Sunday signed a U.S. $30 million agreement for the construction of a five-star hotel and a U.S. $300 million deal for importing Sudanese livestock. President Bashir invited al-Waleed, a nephew of Saudi King Fahd, to Sudan, his company said in a press release.

30: The Sudanese government is considering lifting a nine-day ban it has imposed on relief flights in parts of southern Sudan, a government humanitarian aid official said. The government imposed the ban in Eastern and Western Equatoria due to fighting between its troops and the SPLA, saying the aim was to protect relief workers.

October 1: The U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) said a government ban on U.N. aid flights to parts of war-torn southern Sudan was depriving half a million hungry people of emergency food supplies. WFP spokeswomen Brenda Barton said the unprecedented restriction, which has been strongly condemned by the United States, also in effect ruled out truck deliveries of food to the needy in Bahr el-Ghazal region and Western Upper Nile provinces.

1: A helicopter gunship belonging to the Sudanese air force crash-landed on the way to Torit, said the state owned SUNA news. The SPLA had announced that it downed a helicopter gunship in the area. However, the government claims the helicopter crashed due to a technical fault, killing all the crewmembers.

2: The SPLA claimed to have cut off the oil supply to Khartoum, saying they blew up the country's main pumping station two days earlier. An SPLA unit "attacked and destroyed" the collection and pumping station at Heglig in western Upper Nile state, cutting off the supply to the capital, the group said in a statement.

2: The UN has suspended a polio immunisation campaign due to start next week in south Sudan after Khartoum's decision to ban relief flights to the war-torn region for nine days, a UN spokesman said. The supplementary vaccination exercise targeting 791,000 children in southern Sudan will not start as scheduled because vaccines and staff cannot be flown in.

2: Zimbabwean Vice President Simon Muzenda met in Harare with Sudanese envoy Mahadi Ibrahim who briefed him on the peace process in the Sudan. Ibrahim told journalists after meeting Muzenda that the Sudanese government was very interested in the resumption of negotiations in the Sudan to bring lasting peace after decades of war.

3: Sudanese opposition forces took control of two garrison towns in eastern Sudan, and were preparing to attack the city of Kassala, SPLA leader John Garang said. The attack on the garrisons of Hamashkurb and Shallob was carried out by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), an umbrella group for the SPLA and forces of the northern opposition to President Bashir's regime, he said in a statement.

3: The Sudanese army denied a report from the SPLA that it had captured two garrison towns in a new flare-up in eastern Sudan. "These are mere allegations through which the rebel movement is trying to divert attention from its setbacks, and internal weaknesses and problems," army spokesman Lieutenant General Muhammad Bashir Sulayman told state radio.

3: Ageing Sudanese Islamist leader Hassan al-Turabi has been removed from jail to a hospital after falling over during ablutions before prayers, colleagues said. The sheikh was performing his late evening ablution...He slammed to the wall and fell unconscious. He was rushed to hospital where he is still being kept," said Mohamed Hassan al-Amin, a leading figure in Turabi's Popular National Congress party.

3: The Sudanese government denied claims by the SPLA to have attacked a major oilrig in southern Sudan, cutting off the flow of oil to the north. "This is a figment of someone's imagination," Muhammad Ahmad Dirdeiry, charge d'affaires at the Sudanese embassy in Kenya told IRIN.

4: President Bashir received a message from his Kenyan counterpart, Daniel arap Moi, containing ideas for resuming peace talks with the SPLA, an official said. A Kenyan envoy, General Lazarus Sumbeiyo, conveyed the message Bashir adviser for peace Ghazi Salah Eddin told the state-run Omdurman radio.

4: The Sudanese government and the SPLA agreed to a cessation of hostilities and the resumption of peace talks, regional mediators said. In an unsigned statement faxed to AP, the secretariat of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development said peace talks would resume on October 14.

4: A top UN official said he had failed to convince the Sudanese government to lift a ban on delivery of humanitarian aid to two southern provinces, which has left more than 500,000 people without food aid for nine days. Kenzo Oshima, the top U.N. official for humanitarian affairs, said he had met with Sudanese Vice President Ali Osman Mohammed Taha, but the latter made no commitment to reverse it, Oshima said.

4: Sudan accused neighbouring Eritrea of participating militarily in a rebel offensive in the east of the country and made no mention of a resumption of peace talks announced by mediators in Kenya. Defence Minister Bakri Hassan Saleh briefed an emergency cabinet meeting chaired by President Omar al-Bashir about the "Eritrean aggression", presidential spokesman Abbas Ibrahim Nur told the official SUNA news agency.

5: Eritrea has denied Sudanese government accusations that it is involved in an SPLA offensive in eastern Sudan, saying that it would welcome a commission of enquiry into the matter, the Libyan JANA news agency reported.

5: Sudan has welcomed a resumption of stalled peace talks with the SPLA in an effort to end the war, the daily Akhbar al-Youm reported. IGAD announced that Sudanese government and the SPLA had agreed to resume halted peace talks soon and to stop fighting.

5: Sudan has closed its border with Eritrea after accusing its neighbour of backing a rebel offensive, a government newspaper said. The government of the eastern province of Kassala "has closed the border with Eritrea to prevent rebel movement through the border," said Al-Anbaa daily.

6: The UN resumed food aid flights to war-torn southern Sudan after Khartoum lifted a flight ban imposed eight days ago, a UN spokeswoman told AFP. "We started flying this morning after the government of Sudan told us that we can resume flights," said Brenda Barton, spokeswoman for the UN World Food Programme (WFP).

6: The Sudanese army said it pulled back from an area on the border with Eritrea that came under rebel attack. The government accused the SPLA of attacking its army posts in the eastern province of Kassala, about 400 km east of Khartoum, with Eritrea's help. Eritrea denied the accusation.

7: Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Sudan are hostile to certain minority religions, a US State Department report on religious freedom said.

7: A Sudanese pilot working as a taxi driver in North Carolina pleaded innocent to immigration charges. Mekki Hamed Mekki Hamed Mekki, 30, was indicted by a federal grand jury on nine counts of violating immigration laws. The judge scheduled a trial for November but indicated it might be pushed into December.

7: The Nuba Mountains Cease-fire Agreement in the Sudan is holding despite renewed hostilities in some areas further south of the country, the chairman of the Joint Military Commission (JMC) said. In a statement, JMC chairman Brigadier-General J.E. Wilhelmsen of Norway said the agreement has been in effect for nine months without any hostilities.

7: The US House of Representatives passed a bill that calls on President George W. Bush to impose economic sanctions on Sudan if he determines that its government is not negotiating in good faith to end the civil war. The House voted 358-8 for the measure that could lead to sanctions.

7: The Sudanese army vowed it would recapture within 48 hours two garrison towns that have fallen to the SPLA in the country's south and east. Army spokesman General Mohamed Beshir Suleiman told reporters that Khartoum's troops "have destroyed the capabilities" of the SPLA "around Torit," near the border with Uganda. The Sudanese army forces "have began marching to clear the rebel pockets surrounding Hamashkurb," near the border with Eritrea, he added.

7: Frustrated by slow progress toward a peaceful settlement in Sudan, the US House of Representatives called for a war crimes investigation in the violence-wracked African nation, to hold those who slaughtered civilians responsible. US lawmakers believe the US government should know the names of the perpetrators of those crimes to make their subsequent prosecution possible.

8: The Sudanese army recaptured the key southern garrison town of Torit from the SPLA, reports from both sides said. At the same time the rebels claimed to have seized an important garrison in the northeast of the country and cut the strategic road from Khartoum to Port Sudan on the Red Sea.

8: The African Union asked Eritrea and Sudan to avoid raising the temperature over reports of fighting in Sudan along their border. Amara Essy, head of the regional body, called on the countries to exercise restraint as relations deteriorate over Sudanese accusations Eritrea harbours groups fighting Sudan.

9: Sudan's ambassador to Lebanon said Khartoum was ready to restart talks with the SPLA, a day after the government retook the strategic southern town of Torit. "We will return to the negotiating table, but we will return on our terms: the cessation of assaults and no discussion of issues we have already talked about," said ambassador Ahmed al-Bakhit said after meeting Lebanese foreign ministry officials.

9: The SPLA captured two towns in eastern Sudan, cutting traffic on a strategic road linking the capital with the country's main Red Sea port, their spokesman said. Rasai I and Rasai II were captured when a rebel force drove out the 500 soldiers guarding the two towns, about 440 kilometres east of the capital, Khartoum.

9: President Bashir said his negotiators would return to peace talks in Kenya but vowed to fight on against rebels in eastern Sudan while hoping for a truce in the south, state radio reported. "Our negotiating delegation will go to Nairobi after tomorrow on our conditions of a cessation of hostilities and commitment to the first Machakos agreement," Bashir was quoted as saying on Omdurman Radio.

9: President Bashir belittled a call by the U.S. House of Representatives to sanction Sudan if its government does not negotiate in good faith with the SPLA. Such threats mean nothing to Sudan, Bashir told a gathering of deputies outside the headquarters of his armed forces' general command.

10: The Sudanese opposition warned that the people in drought-stricken northeastern Sudan suffered from "acute shortages" of food and water and accused the government in Khartoum of hiding the problem. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA), an umbrella grouping of both southern and northern rebel and opposition factions, said it discovered the crisis after rebel forces scored victories in the area this month.

10: Talisman Energy is holding private talks with potential buyers for its controversial Sudanese oil property and will decide in a few weeks whether to sell or keep the lucrative asset. Company president Jim Buckee told analysts that discussions with potential suitors are ongoing in private, "but as a sort of help, I think the matter should clarify in about four weeks."

10: President Bashir said he was still waiting for the east African sponsors of the Sudanese peace talks to clarify the terms of its negotiations with the SPLA. "We are still waiting for a reply from the secretariat" of the Kenya-based Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Bashir said at a press conference with visiting Burundian President Pierre Buyoya.

10: President Bashir visited Torit town, recaptured by the government troops from the SPLA. In his address to the soldiers, Bashir said the army should proceed with the operations until all territories held by the SPLA were "liberated".

10: President Bashir said Sudan will send a delegation to Kenya next week for talks with the SPLA, but warned that peace negotiations can resume only if fighting stops. Bashir said that SPLA has yet to reply to his conditions for the resumption of peace talks, which included an end to fighting in southern Sudan.

10: Kenya has denied allegations that it plans to import oil from the Sudan. However, Energy Minister Raila Odinga told members that local oil marketing firms were free to import their petroleum products from their preferred sources as dictated by market forces.

11: The Sudanese army is tightening its siege of Old Rassai in eastern Sudan on the border with Eritrea, while New Rassai town is still under government control, the regional governor said. "The army and Popular Defence Forces have imposed a tight siege on Old Rassai to clear it of rebel and Eritrean forces," Kassala state governor Adam Hamid Mussa said, quoted by the official news agency SUNA.

11: Arab League Secretary-General Amr Musa said the League is making intensive contacts vis-a- vis the Sudan crisis. The contacts aim at achieving peace, putting a stop to the decimating fighting there and maintaining the unity and integrity of the Sudanese territories.

11: Sudan's top peace negotiator was due to travel to Kenya to sign a ceasefire agreement with the SPLA as a pre-condition to resuming peace talks at the end of next week, a member of his delegation said. Amin Hassan Omar will lead the bulk of the government's delegation to sign a memorandum of understanding prepared by IGAD.

12: Eritrea is amassing troops on its border with Sudan, a Sudanese newspaper reported, a week after Khartoum accused Eritrean forces of attacking areas in east Sudan. "Information has been revealed to Akhbar al-Youm of fresh amassing of Eritrean troops in the area of Gormika and Khor Hawora on the border of Kassala state in eastern Sudan and of new reinforcements which have arrived at Eritrean posts on its border with Sudan," the pro-government Akhbar al-Youm said.

12: Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Ismail Saturday branded as "unbalanced and unobjective" a US Congressional resolution calling for sanctions against Khartoum. "We believe the resolution was unbalanced and unobjective and would not help in pushing the different parties to carry on with the peace process," Ismail told AFP.

Part II- Northern Uganda briefs

September 17: The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has condemned an attack by LRA rebels on an aid convoy in northern Uganda, which has resulted in the suspension of relief food deliveries to some 120,000 people. "It is totally unacceptable that humanitarian aid would be the target of such attacks," WFP Country Director for Uganda, Ken Davies, said in a statement.

20: The rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), which is active in northern Uganda, is resorting to crude weapons such as machetes and axes because it has run out of firearms and ammunition, a senior army official said. Media organisations reported that the LRA had attacked a village in the northern district of Gulu, and hacked 14 people to death using machetes and axes.

27: The British-based human rights organisation, Amnesty International, has expressed concern over the safety of 20 prisoners held by the Ugandan army at a military detention facility in the northern town of Gulu. It said the prisoners were "illegally removed" from Gulu Central Prison on 16 September, when the Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) raided the prison and rounded up 21 men. October 1: A group of religious leaders has vowed to continue pressing for talks between the Ugandan government and the LRA rebels despite a presidential order preventing them from making further contact with the rebels. The Ugandan media reported that President Yoweri Museveni had written a letter to John Baptist Odama, the Catholic archbishop who chairs the Acholi Religious Leaders' Peace Initiative (ARLPI), instructing him to stop visiting the LRA. 3: The Sudanese and Ugandan governments have delayed extending a defence protocol because of a new situation created by the recent upsurge in fighting between the Khartoum authorities and the SPLA in southern Sudan, a senior Sudanese diplomat said. Siajudin Hamid, the charge d'affaires at the Sudanese embassy in the Ugandan capital Kampala, told IRIN the two governments were still holding consultations on terms for extending the protocol.

4: The Ugandan army said that the Sudanese army had attacked positions of the LRA rebels in southern Sudan killing 12 fighters and injuring 12 others. Army spokesman Major Shaban Bantariza said that the Sudanese army had responded to attacks by the Ugandan LRA rebels at Nisitu, near the southern Sudanese town of Juba.

4: The LRA rebels have attacked a Sudanese refugee camp in northwest Uganda, killing five government soldiers and burning down 65 dwellings, a spokesman for the Ugandan army said. Army spokesman Major Shaban Bantariza said the five soldiers killed were defending the Amaji refugee settlement, about 440 kilometres north west of Kampala.

4: The Ugandan army has ordered civilians displaced by LRA rebels to return to government-protected camps within 48 hours. Maj Shaban Bantariza, the Ugandan army's spokesman, told IRIN that the civilians had been ordered to return to the camps so that they would be protected against the LRA, as well as against any possible fall-out arising from the army's stepped-up offensive against the rebels.

Part III- Horn of Africa briefs

September 17: The Representative of the UN Secretary General for Somalia, Winston Tubman, has urged the Somali people to observe an 'International Day of Peace' on September 21 as part of the global effort to focus on peace. According to a statement from his office, Tubman said the day was an opportunity for Somalia "to reflect on the scourge of many years of civil conflict".

26: The UN Security Council has called on Somalis to participate "constructively" in next month's national reconciliation conference. The conference - which should have been held in April - is due to take place on 15 October in the Kenyan town of Eldoret, after months of debate and postponements.

October 3: The southwestern Somali town of Baidoa fell to the rivals of the Rahanweyn Resistance Army (RRA) chairman, Col Hasan Muhammad Nur Shatigadud, who has been in control of the town since July, a local business source told IRIN. Forces loyal to Shatigadud's two deputies and rivals for power - Shaykh Adan Madobe, the RRA first vice-chairman and the second vice-chairman, Muhammad Ibrahim Habsade – had seized control of the town.

8: Women representing five regions in southern and central Somalia held a meeting in the town of Marka, 100 km south of the capital, Mogadishu. The workshop, which came a few days before the Somali peace talks are due to open in Eldoret, Kenya, is expected "to give the women a forum to discuss, debate and develop an approach for peace that can succeed in Eldoret", said a press statement.

9: Invitations to attend the much-postponed Somali reconciliation conference in Eldoret, Kenya, have been sent out, sources close to the talks told IRIN. "Everything is on track and the invitations to all the political entities were sent by yesterday, 8 October," the sources said.

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