November 15 – December 15, 2002
Part I – Sudan
2. Report unearths blatant abuse
3. Book review: SPLM/A: Inside an African Revolution
Part II- Northern Uganda briefs
Part III- Horn of Africa briefs
Part 1 – Sudan
November 18: Sudan's government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) agreed to extend a cease-fire until next March. The two signed an agreement in the Kenyan capital Nairobi to cease hostilities in Africa's longest-running civil war until March 31, 2003.
19: Sudan will not renew an agreement allowing Uganda's army to pursue Uganda’s Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels into Sudanese territory, a government minister said. "The Sudanese government took the decision (not to renew the protocol) due to the failure of the Ugandan government to answer some question concerning the limit of time needed for Uganda troops to remain within Sudanese territory," the official SUNA news agency quoted Foreign Minister Mustafa Ismail as saying.
19: The US is pleased with the extension of a truce between Sudan's government and the SPLA and believes an initial pact on power sharing bodes well for the future, a senior State Department official said. This is "very good news coming out of Kenya," Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Walter Kansteiner said.
19: Foreign Minister Mustafa Ismail described as a "step forward" the deal reached between the government and SPLA to extend a truce signed in October and to continue peace talks. He explained to reporters here that the government "is concerned with the southern problem but is responsible for all of Sudan, and any agreement should observe the interests of all Sudanese."
19: The multi-agency Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) appealed for US$225 million dollars for the development of 64 humanitarian projects next year in the country, it said in a statement released in Nairobi. "The appeal covers a total of 12 different areas of activity and includes funding for food and agriculture, health, education, human rights and protection, emergency land mine action and funds for OLS," the statement said.
20: Uganda has not been notified of whether the Sudan would renew the agreement to allow Uganda's army to pursue the rebels inside the Sudanese territory or not, a Ugandan daily, New Vision reported. Uganda's Defence Minister Amama Mbabazi said that Uganda had not been notified of the development.
20: A senior Sudanese presidential aide left for Uganda to discuss the Kampala government's request to renew a security agreement allowing Ugandan troops to pursue LRA rebels into southern Sudan. A statement carried by SUNA said presidential aide Mubarak el-Fadel el-Mahdi would discuss "security questions" with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.
20: An internationally backed government committee has recovered 2,000 abductees in Sudan from Arab tribal captivity and aims to complete its mission by end 2003, the committee chief announced. The Committee for Eradication of Abduction of Women and Children (CEAWAC), set up less than two years ago, has traced and recovered 2,000 women and children, mainly members of the southern Dinka tribe of Bahr el-Ghazal, said Ahmed al-Mufti.
21: The US is planning seminars for the Sudanese government and the SPLA to tackle key issues that divide the two sides ahead of a new round of peace talks in January, a U.S. diplomat said. Jeff Millington, US charge d'affaires in Sudan, was speaking after a second round of talks wrapped up in Kenya.
21: Top Sudanese security officials were said to be ready for talks with the Ugandan government on the renewal of permission for Uganda to use Sudanese territory to track down the LRA rebels. Sudanese Ambassador to Uganda Surajudin Ahmed said the delegation are ready for the talk and they will also discuss the contentious issue of extending the protocol that allows the Ugandan army to enter southern Sudan to hunt Joseph Kony and his LRA rebels.
21: Khartoum agreed to indefinitely extend Kampala's right to pursue Ugandan LRA rebels in southern Sudan, a senior Sudanese government official said. "The protocol will remain as long as it is needed to finish the job of flushing out Kony, and the (Sudanese and Ugandan) ministers of defence will meet very soon to work out the technicalities and details of the job," President Omar el Bashir's special envoy Mubarak el Fadil el Mahdi said in Kampala.
21: The Sudanese government will stand against a draft resolution to soon be tabled before the UN General Assembly on human rights abuses in Sudan and will try to persuade member nations to vote against it, Foreign Minister Mustafa Ismail said. "We consider it a bad, biased resolution and we will therefore vote against it even if we are certain that it will obtain the majority of the votes," said Ismail.
22: A senior US diplomat has predicted a peace accord between the Khartoum government and the SPLA will be signed early next year. Charge d'affaires Jeff Millington, quoted in the Sudanese daily, Khartoum Monitor, said the latest round of peace talks held in Kenya was "very successful."
22: Sudanese riot police were congratulated and rewarded for forcibly suppressing recent riots at the University of Khartoum, independent newspapers reported. Police chief General Omar al-Haj al-Hidhairi praised the riot police's "success in handling the incidents and thwarting a major security coup plot with participation by circles other than the students," Al-Sahafa daily wrote.
23: The Sudanese army expressed its support for a political agreement reached between the government and the SPLA, and urged steps be taken to break down barriers between the warring sides. "We in the army, we welcome all steps that would lead to realization of peace in our homeland," Gen. Mohammed Bashir Suliman was quoted in the independent Akbar al-Yowm daily newspaper as saying.
23: Four Egyptians accused of smuggling arms from Sudan pleaded not guilty at the opening of their trial before the high state security court, judicial sources said. Tourist agent Mahmoud Abdel Satar, 31; herdsman Issa Khalil, 24; driver Mahmoud Awwad, 21; and worker Mohammed Rahma, 28, are accused of "possessing without authorization 119 automatic weapons and munitions" and bringing them into Egypt from Sudan illegally.
23: The Sudanese government insisted that whatever happens, it will not give the post of Vice President to the SPLA chief, John Garang. A member of the government delegation to the peace talks in Kenya, Dr Abdulrahman Ibrahim said, "We have closed the chapter of John Garang becoming the first Vice President”, Ibrahim told Radio Omdurman.
23: The Sudanese government and the SPLA agreed that a post-war government should include representatives from "all political parties", President Bashir's peace advisor said. Ghazi Salah Eddin Atabani told reporters that agreement on this point was reached during the second round of talks with the SPLA in Kenya.
24: The Sudanese government declared solidarity with the peoples of Ethiopia and Eritrea in confronting the reportedly severe famine in those neighbouring countries.
The foreign ministry said in a statement that Khartoum "has been following, with utmost anxiety, news reports by UN agencies of this famine and the aggravation of the situation in those sisterly states."
24: Workshops were being organised in the United States, Germany and Britain to prepare for a third round of negotiations between the Khartoum government and the SPLA, a government negotiator was quoted as saying. The meetings, one of which is already in session in Germany sponsored by the European Union, are aimed at "softening positions and bringing closer the viewpoints of the two negotiating parties so as to keep them in the atmosphere of negotiation and the search for peace," Amin Hassan Omar was quoted by the official Al Anbaa daily as saying.
24: The Council of Ministers convened an extraordinary meeting yesterday to evaluate the peace talks, which wound up sessions in Kenya on November 18 between the government and the SPLA. Presidential advisor, Dr. Ghazi Salah El-Din said the meeting had recommended that the other political groups in Sudan participate in the talks but outside the umbrella of the Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD).
25: Sudan asked the UN World Food Programme (WFP) for help in transporting food aid to Eritrea and Ethiopia to alleviate famines there, a Sudanese newspaper reported. State Foreign Minister Chul Deng made the request to WFP director in Sudan Stefano Borretti, who promised to relay it to WFP headquarters for approval, the Al-Anbaa daily said.
26: Washington invited Khartoum and the SPLA to meet in the US for discussions to iron out differences ahead of a new round of peace talks in January, a Sudanese paper said.
"The government received an official invitation from the United States of America to attend meetings with the SPLA in Washington next month with the aim of narrowing viewpoints on issues of difference," the daily al-Rai al-Aam said, adding that the SPLA had also received an invitation.
27: Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel said his country and the European Union (EU) are interested in normalising and strengthening ties with Sudan, Omdurman Radio reported. Michel, who said this is in Khartoum, said Belgium would seek to further diplomatic efforts at ending the war.
27: A Sudanese government committee trying to stop tribal abductions in Sudan said it had reunited 29 abductees with their families, SUNA reported. However, SUNA did not say when the Committee for the Eradication of Abduction of Women and Children (CEAWC) had returned the 29 to their families.
27: Oil revenues contributed US$527 million to Sudan's treasury in the first nine months of 2002, accounting for 41 percent of total revenue, Finance Minister Al-Zubair Ahmed Hassan said.
27: An Egyptian court sentenced three Egyptians to life in prison with hard labour for smuggling in weapons from Sudan, court sources said. A high state security court found Mahmud Abdel Sattar, 31, Eid Issa Khalil, 24, and Mahmud Ahmed Awwad, 21, guilty after a four-day trial. A life sentence in Egypt is 25 years.
27: Sudan said that it suffers no food shortage and that agricultural production this year exceeds the amounts needed to feed people living in government-held areas. "Sudan's agricultural production this year is estimated at 6.7 million tonnes while its consumption stands at 5.4 million tonnes, which means a surplus of 1.3 million tonnes," according to Mohammed Mahmoud al-Hannan, the Agriculture Ministry's first undersecretary.
28: The National Assembly endorsed an order against the US Sudan Peace Act, which the American President George W. Bush signed last month. The order condemned the US Act, stating it was mainly supporting the SPLA and inciting the whole world against the Sudan government.
29: The Sudanese cabinet endorsed the country's 2003 budget, which boasts no new taxes and would boost state employees' salaries, public radio said. For the first time, the budget is free of any tax hike and provides a 20 percent increase in salaries for government employees, the radio said quoting Finance Minister Al-Zubair Ahmed Hassan.
December 1: President Bashir created two new ministries, one for investment and the other for humanitarian assistance, and appointed a new transport minister, SUNA reported. Al-Samani al-Wasila al-Sheikh, a member of the opposition Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) is the new transport minister.
1: Sudan scrapped exit visas for its nationals wishing to travel abroad as of January, Foreign Minister Mustafa Ismail said. Ismail told journalists the decision to abolish exit visas was taken by the government and the interior ministry would implement it "as of early January." The only exception would be for those facing trial.
2: Ugandan Defence Minister Amama Mbabazi flew to Khartoum over the renewal of the protocol, which the two neighbouring countries signed to hunt LRA rebels. Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) Chief of Staff Brig. Nakibus Lakara and Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence boss Col. Noble Mayombo accompanied Mbabazi.
2: A Sudanese government newspaper said a plan by the SPLA to issue their own currency contradicted the terms of a peace agreement they signed with Khartoum in Kenya. The plan " contradicts the Machakos protocol and manifests the secessionist nature of the rebel movement despite its claim of advocating unity of the Sudan," wrote the daily Al Anbaa.
2: US Secretary of State Colin Powell, in a rare telephone conversation with President Bashir, promised to do what he could for peace in Sudan, the State Department said.
Powell spoke to both Bashir and Garang.
2: The Sudanese government will ask France to play a role in efforts to end the war in Sudan, presidential advisor said. Ghazi Salah Eddin Atabani told reporters. He said he would convey this request during a December 18-20 visit to Paris.
3: SPLA leader John Garang went on an unprecedented visit to the Nuba Mountains area where a yearlong truce is in force between the Khartoum government and the SPLA. Rebel spokesman Yasser Arman told AFP Garang arrived in the area aboard a private aircraft "without the authorisation of the Khartoum government."
3: Forty-one Sudanese died in fighting between refugees at a camp in Ethiopia, the UN refugee agency said. Officials from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees plan to meet with refugees from the various ethnic communities at the Fugnido refugee camp to try to reduce tensions that have been simmering for much of the last six months.
4: Sudan's warring parties have accused each other of arming and supporting Uganda’s LRA rebels.
5: The African Union (AU) called on the leaders of Eritrea and the Sudan to exercise restraint from any act likely to heighten tension and to undermine the efforts aimed at promoting peace and stability in the region. The AU reiterated its appeal to the two countries' leaders to strive, through dialogue, to solve their dispute in conformity with the principles enshrined in the Constitutive Act the AU.
5: The SPLA said that the people of the Nuba Mountains also want six years of self-rule, as has been agreed for the south of the country. Around 300 "representatives" of the region agreed during a conference that the rebel group negotiates on their behalf with Khartoum.
6: Sudan has in principle accepted the proposal by the African Union (AU) to hold a meeting with Eritrea with the aim of establishing a mechanism, which could lead to the deployment of AU observers along the borders of the two countries. The Sudanese ambassador to Ethiopia, Ambassador Osman al-Sayyid, said Sudan had called for the establishment of a committee to investigate the issue of Eritrean aggression on Sudan's eastern borders.
8: The secretary-general of the Arab League, Amr Musa, was due to contact Arab financial institutions, funds and Arab ministers of finance with respect to the establishment of the South Sudan Development Fund. Foreign Minister Mustafa Ismail expressed Sudan's gratitude to the keen desire of the Arab countries to contribute to the peace process in Sudan.
9: Pakistani police are questioning a Sudanese man they suspect delivered a tape-recorded message last month from Osama bin Laden to an Arab television network reporter in Islamabad, a security official said. The man worked for the World Assembly for Muslim Youth, a Saudi Arabian-based charity.
9: Khartoum says people in the Nuba Mountains will stay on the course of peace and not fall for the "propaganda" visit made recently by SPLA leader Garang. Foreign Minister Mustafa Ismail dismissed the visit as a "sort of a propaganda" ploy and accused the SPLA of "attempting to stand in the way of the sweeping trend for peace."
9: Sudan said it had rejected bids to improve relations with neighbouring Eritrea, adding that ties would be normalised only if Asmara stopped backing the SPLA.
9: Foreign donors have paid Sudan less than half of some US$170 million pledged as humanitarian aid, threatening development work in one of Africa's poorest nations. The funds had been pledged by a string of governments and non-governmental organisations through the UN 2001 aid appeal.
9: A Sudanese official urged EU envoys to support "sustainable development and investment" in Sudan as their contribution to negotiations aimed at ending the war. Presidential adviser Ghazi Salah Eddin Atabani said he had stressed to the EU envoys from Denmark, Greece and Belgium that peace was "a strategic option" for his government.
10: Fifteen political and military groups from southern Sudan opposed to the Sudanese government converged in Kampala, to look at strategies for reconciliation and peace in the country. The SPLA, civil society organizations, religious leaders and chiefs attended the meeting organized by the New Sudan Council of Churches (NSCC), Sudan Council of Churches and the Uganda Joint Christian Council.
10: The World Food Programme (WFP) said it could be forced to cut aid to thousands of hungry refugees in Kenya unless it receives help from donors. WFP spokeswoman Christiane Berthiaume said 220,000 Sudanese and Somalis who have fled years of conflict in their home countries depend on the agency's food deliveries to camps in Kenya.
10: The government won over a leading SPLA commander who had posed a major threat to the oil fields in south Sudan's Unity State. Commander Peter Gadet has arrived in Khartoum after the government persuaded him during long, painstaking negotiations to defect from the SPLA and become a government ally.
10: The EU has signed a deal with Khartoum to release preliminary funds for development, a EU official said. But Danish foreign ministry undersecretary Peter Lysholt Hansen, who is heading a EU troika delegation to Sudan, said development cooperation, would not start until a peace deal was signed.
12: Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir and the rebel Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA) chief John Garang are due for another face-to-face meeting to be brokered by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, reported the New Vision newspaper on Thursday. Sudanese Ambassador to Uganda Hamid Sirajuddin was quoted as saying that "the request for the meeting has been placed by President Museveni to have the parties sit down before the next round of talks in Machakos."
12: Peter Gadet, whose Nuer tribe faction allied with rebels of the Sudan People's Liberation Army, defected to the government, the SPLA and government have announced. Gadet, who is active in the oil-rich Western Upper Nile area, said in a statement that he had taken "this rational step" in part out of concern for the security of Sudan's oil wealth.
12: French Foreign Ministry official Jean- Christopher Pierre said his country would appoint a peace envoy to Sudan next year. A French envoy to the region would mark the third recent attempt by a major power to mediate a peace. The U.S. had sent Senator John Danforth and Britain had dispatched Alan Goulty. The Arab League also has attempted to broker a peace.
12: Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Mahir met with Sudanese Foreign Minister Dr Mustafa Usman Isma'il during the Africa Union meeting of foreign ministers. Mahir said discussions dealt with joint moves to ensure that settlement in the Sudan is based on the interest of the Sudanese people, who should maintain their unity and territorial integrity and live in peace in a country in which all enjoy equal citizenship rights and complete equality.
13: Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir is to visit Paris in February for a French-African summit and for talks with officials on France's backing of Sudan's peace process, a senior official said. Peace Advisor Ghazi Salah Eddin Atabani, who has represented the Khartoum government in peace talks with the southern rebel movement, will for his part visit Paris next week, State Foreign Minister Najeib al-Khair Abdel Wahab said.
14: The Sudanese government's pointperson on the peace process is to head to Kampala on Sunday to brief Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on negotiations with southern rebels. "We will work for mustering Ugandan efforts to the peace process," Presidential Peace Advisor Ghazi Salah Eddin Atabani told reporters Saturday.
15: U.S.-led investigators have found that a Sept. 21 bombing raid by government warplanes in southern Sudan, which killed 12 civilians - including four children - was not premeditated. "They did not intend to attack and kill," Herbert Lloyd, the American head of the team, told reporters in the Sudanese capital. The investigation was carried out under an agreement signed in March between the Sudanese government and the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) to protect civilians in combat zones in southern Sudan.
2. Report unearths blatant abuse
By Zachary Ochieng
Against the backdrop of the recent peace talks and other signs of openness, the Sudan government continues to repress political parties and civilians, conduct torture against its opponents, squash press freedom, harass Christians, and commit other human rights violations, according to a recent report by Human Rights Watch (HRW), the New York-based international human rights watchdog.
"Human Rights Developments: Sudan 2002 Report” says that the government kept in force a state of emergency to suppress non-Islamist and other opposition to the ruling Islamist party over the past two years. It was increasingly aggressive in pursuing the 19-year-old civil war, particularly in southern oil fields where its militias and army forcibly displaced thousands of residents.
"The war reflected a failure among Sudanese to agree on the role of religion in government, tolerance of diversity, and sharing of resources between the marginalized majority and the politically dominant Arab-Muslim minority", says the report, released late November. The report details cases of human rights abuse in Sudan between 2000 and 2002.
The report notes how President Omar El Bashir's ruling National Congress (NC) party won the December 2000 presidential and legislative elections, which all main opposition parties boycotted and excluded those living in rebel-held areas. After the elections, the government amended the National Security Act, permitting the government to detain suspects indefinitely without charge and deny judicial review for up to six months. It extended the state of emergency through a second year, until December 31, 2001.
According to the report, government opponents in the People's National Congress (PNC), a NC splinter party that Islamist political leader Hassan Turabi founded in 2000, were harassed and jailed without being charged.
In February 2001, Turabi signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) and called on Sudanese to rise up against El Bashir. Security forces arrested Turabi and at least 20 other PNC leaders. The government charged Turabi with crimes punishable by death or life imprisonment, and authorities periodically rounded up PNC members.
The damning report also documents cases of vicious torture and ill treatment. A Sudatel employee, fleeing the July 2001 SPLA capture of Raga, was reportedly beaten daily by government forces and given little food or water after his detention. Security forces reportedly pulled out the fingernails of another man detained during the same exodus, and those in Juba continue to use a large metal shipping container as a detention cell, a practice that subjects detainees to life-threatening heat.
Not even the press has been spared, according to the report. The two English-language newspapers in Khartoum, The Khartoum Monitor and The Nile Courier provided a political forum for southerners. Security forces or the Press National Council periodically suspended The Khartoum Monitor. On April 12, 2001, security forces briefly detained its editor-in-chief Alfred Taban at a church-called news conference. In February 2001, a Sudanese court fined the independent Al Rai Al Akhar newspaper an astounding U.S. $390,000 and fined the editor and a journalist another $5,800 or three months in jail each, for libelling local government.
The report also chronicles the harassment and discrimination of Christians. In April 2001, police injured and briefly detained Christians demonstrating against a government order transferring an Easter service (convoked by a visiting German evangelist) from Khartoum to a suburb.
The following day, police tear gassed students who were protesting against these arrests outside All Saints' Episcopal Church, which police later stormed. Three people were seriously injured and 57 arrested on this second day of disturbances. They had no legal representation at their trial, which lasted less than one hour. Six girls were detained and several boys flogged; the rest were sentenced to 20 days in jail each.
The report adds that the Ministry of Health of Khartoum State illegally occupied half of the Episcopal Church of Sudan’s headquarters in Omdurman. Churches complained that Christian students undergoing obligatory military training in camps near Khartoum were denied their right to worship, in contrast to Muslim students. Muslim students were also not allowed to convert to Christianity.
Justice, particularly for women, was skewed. "In the north, destitute southern women continued to brew and sell traditional southern alcoholic drinks, for which they were arrested,” said the report. “More than 900 women were held in the Women's Prison in Omdurman (designed to house 200 women) as of December 2000 in grossly poor conditions. The prison also housed southern women with 20-year sentences for dealing in cannabis, and women sentenced, sometimes for indeterminate periods, for financial crimes,” says the report.
According to the report, the government did not tolerate matters pertaining to democracy. On June 23, 2001, the authorities raided a "Democracy and Gender Issues" workshop organised by the Gender Centre in Khartoum. Four speakers were arrested and released the same night. The authorities interrogated all participants in the workshop about their political affiliations, and they recorded the participants’ addresses.
The report, however, notes that the most severe abuses occurred in the civil war fought in the south, the central Nuba Mountains, and the east. "The Sudan government and its ethnic militias continued to displace, starve, abduct, rape, and kill civilians outright--while burning, and bombing, villages, churches, hospitals, and schools,” says the report.
The rebel-held Nuba Mountains were hit especially hard in May 2001. The government attacked the region, bombing extensively and burning down six villages, resulting in the displacement of more than 15,000 people. According to the Nuba relief office, an estimated 400,000 people were in SPLA-controlled territory as of June 2001. The government persistently denied humanitarian access to civilians in the SPLA-held Nuba Mountains, through flight denials and shelling of airstrips used for unapproved relief deliveries.
The report notes that the government's use of new, heavier arms, including surface-to-surface missiles and helicopter gun ships, and high-altitude Antonov bombing of southern and Nuba operations took a heavy toll on the civilian population. Government aerial bombing destroyed the Episcopal Cathedral in Lui, Eastern Equatoria on December 29, 2000.
Despite government pledges to stop bombing civilians and civilian structures, more bombing raids occurred. In June 2001, government Antonovs bombed three towns in Bahr El Ghazal, including one in which a World Food Program (WFP) relief operation was underway. Such attacks targeting relief deliveries in progress were increasing.
The report notes that, although the government of Sudan signed the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, it did not ratify it and has not begun to destroy its stockpiled antipersonnel land mines. There were strong indications that both government and rebel forces in Sudan continue to use antipersonnel mines, but the government denied its forces did so. In October 2001, the SPLA signed an agreement at an NGO conference in Geneva to ban the use, production, storage, or transfer of antipersonnel land mines in its territory.
In partnership with Chinese companies, three new arms factories near Khartoum produced small arms and ammunition, using government oil revenues to do so.
The report also highlights abuse of children's rights. According to the report, the recruitment of boys aged 16 and 17 into the Popular Defence Force, a government Islamist militia, proceeded as government policy, and occasional press-gangs seized even younger children for this military service. The government-backed ethnic militias also recruited child soldiers in the south, sometimes forcibly, as did rebel groups.
"The SPLA admitted in 2000 it had about 10,000 child soldiers. Following an agreement with the SPLA, in February 2001 UNICEF began demobilizing some 3,000 SPLA child soldiers from northern Bahr El Ghazal. The children were disarmed and given schooling in transition camps, and by late August 2001, returned to their villages of origin," says the report.
The report highly indicts both the government and SPLA/M in rights violations. For instance, the government stopped supplying the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a Ugandan rebel group with a horrendous human rights record, in 2001 pursuant to an agreement with Uganda. The LRA subsequently began forcibly looting food from southern Sudanese, thousands of whom took refuge in Nimele and in northern Ugandan refugee camps. An LRA ambush on a relief agency vehicle travelling from northern Uganda to southern Sudan killed six Sudanese.
The SPLA openly opposed a broadening of civil society when it prevented civilians in its territory from attending two south-south peace and reconciliation conferences convened by the New Sudan Council of Churches (NSCC) in 2001. The NSCC and others condemned the SPLA's violations of freedom of movement, association, and speech. The Africa-Caribbean-Pacific-European Union (ACP-E.U.) mission noted that the SPLA's record on human rights was "far from being acceptable,” says the report.
The report also accuses the Sudan government of persecuting human rights defenders. Ghazi Suleiman and Ali Mahmoud Hassanein, well-known advocates and human rights activists, were detained without charge by security forces from December 9, 2000 until February 17, 2001, after they condemned the arrests. Suleiman was reportedly tortured, sustaining a head injury and being hospitalised twice during detention.
2. Book Review: SPLM/A: Inside an African Revolution
By Zachary Ochieng
Masterminding a revolution is no easy task. It requires patience, wit, unwavering courage and determination, not to mention the risks involved. It entails a great degree of sacrifice. Such are the trials and tribulations that the men behind the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) have been contending with since the movement became active way back in 1983.
Dr Lam Akol, a former university engineering lecturer turned politician highlights these issues in his book SPLM/A: Inside an African Revolution, published in 2001 by the Khartoum University press. The book attempts to shed light on the origins and organization of SPLM/A and the war conduct of the movement. The author’s own experiences are also widely captured.
The book traces the cause of discontent among the southerners to 1980, when the High Executive Council and the Regional Assembly Act of 1980, issued by the then president Jaafar Mohammed Nimeiri, dismissed the Regional Assembly of the southern Sudan and the High Executive Council under the presidency of General Joseph Lagu.
Thus, the Act replaced the Self Government of provinces Act of 1972 – otherwise known as the Addis Ababa Agreement- without following stipulated amendment procedures. It is this agreement that had ended the country’s first civil war in1972.
What followed were wild demonstrations and protests from the south. Although Nimeiri intervened and solved the dispute, this event marked the beginning of suspicion and mistrust between the north and the south. According to the author, controversy was to rear its ugly head again in 1981. The main bone of contention this time round was the location of Sudan’s second refinery to refine oil discovered in Bentiu, southern Sudan. Whereas the southerners wanted it built in Bentiu, the Central Government wanted it located in Kosti in the north.
Although the southern public and the government in Juba were strongly opposed to its being located in the north, the southern regional government eventually gave in and the refinery was located in the north.
This decision precipitated the emergence of several underground movements at different times, all claiming to proffer solutions to the agony of the southern Sudanese. According to the author, the situation was ripe for a “revolution”. Though different in organizational structures, all the movements called for a separate sovereign state in southern Sudan, to be realized through an armed struggle. A common argument advanced at the time was that the Arabs were determined to oppress the south and impose their Arab-Islamic culture to supplant African culture of the southerners.
However, real guerilla movement began in the early eighties with the emergence of the SPLA. In 1983, it declared itself a socialist movement fighting not for the separation of the south as the southerners expected, but for a united socialist Sudan. It was to wage a protracted armed struggle starting from the south, but which would engulf the whole country in a socialist transformation.
The SPLA defined the problem as that of underdevelopment, which was not limited to the south. According to SPLA, power in Khartoum has been a monopoly of pseudo-Arabs, a term later modified to the phrase “minority clique”.
The author joined SPLA in 1986 and was appointed alternate member of the political military high command the same year. He held several military, political and diplomatic positions in the movement.
Dr Akol says that in joining SPLA, he was motivated not by socialism, but basically to have the southerners organized politically to wage a revolutionary armed struggle. For him, what was needed at that stage and given the state of affairs in the south was not a socialist but a broad based national democratic programme that would unite all the active forces of the society and marshall their energies single-mindedly towards waging the people’s war.
The author details his involvement in the recruitment of people to the movement, including those from the army and the police. The recruitment process was however hit by a major anomaly when it was realized that 90 per cent of the recruits hailed from the Dinka tribe. This imbalance was politically disturbing and subsequent meetings focused on how to involve other members of the southern community.
Though active as a movement, SPLA launched its first major military operation in November 1983. The operation shook the regime, which swung into action. The government subsequently published the SPLA manifesto and the Penal Law to prove it was a communist movement.
Although government critics dismissed this as a forgery aimed at tarnishing the movement’s image, it turned out that the documents were genuine. With the unexpected revelation of its secret documents, SPLA moved fast by sending to Europe a delegation in early 1984. The manifesto and the Penal Law were immediately revised, with a view to toning down the doctrinaire language. The military activities were then intensified from mid 1984.
Waging a guerilla war can sometimes be frustrating and very demoralizing. The author cites a case in January 2,1990 when the “Weyane” – Ethiopian rebels supported by elements of the Sudanese army – launched a surprising three- pronged attack on SPLA positions at the border stations of Geizan, Dul and Gatawarge. These were SPLA bases in Southern Blue Nile and contained stores of military materials and foodstuff.
The SPLA could not match the accurate fire by the Sudanese army artillery and armour, besides a huge number of men. By the afternoon of that day, the SPLA force was completely annihilated. Besides this, the author narrates various operations in which he was involved. In the book, he has also reproduced coded messages, which were being used to launch various operations. The code names given are no longer in use.
For those interested in learning the techniques of guerilla warfare in general and those who would like to understand the origins of the 19 year civil war in Sudan, this book is a must read.
Part II- Northern Uganda briefs
18: Relations between Sudan and Uganda have come sharply into focus following recent claims that the Sudanese government has resumed support for the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a rebel group active in northern Uganda. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni last week threatened to sever diplomatic ties with Khartoum over allegations that certain elements within the Sudanese government had resumed support for the LRA.
19: An "urgent and rapid response" to emergency needs in the conflict-affected north would be the main focus of humanitarian efforts in Uganda in 2003, the United Nations said as it launched its US $89 million appeal for the country. The deterioration in security in the north had resulted in new displacement of IDPs and refugees, an increase in human rights violations, and limited access by humanitarian organisations to the displaced, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in launching the Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal (CAP) for 2003. 20: The Sudanese government has withdrawn its permission for a Ugandan army offensive against Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels in south Sudan. The charge d'affaires at the Sudanese embassy in Nairobi, Muhammad Ahmed Dirdeiry, said that the Uganda People's Defence Force (UPDF) would not be allowed to continue its 'Operation Iron Fist' against LRA targets on Sudanese territory. "They have been given enough time to do this job.” 25: The Sudanese government has agreed to allow Ugandan soldiers to continue an offensive against Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels inside Sudan, just a few days after ordering them to leave. Uganda People's Defence Force (UPDF) spokesman Major Shaban Bantariza said that Khartoum had agreed to allow the UPDF to continue to operate in southern Sudan for as long as it took to wipe out LRA bases there. December 3: Uganda and Sudan this week agreed to extend by two months the military protocol authorising the Ugandan army to flush the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) from its hideouts in southern Sudan.
Part III- Horn of Africa briefs
15: The European Commission has agreed in principle to resume development aid to Eritrea, after a 14 month hiatus, if dialogue with the Eritrean government leads to concrete political reforms. The commission suspended all development aid to Eritrea in September 2001, after the government detained 11 of the founding members of the countries only political party, the Peoples’ Front for Democracy and Justice; closed the private media; and detained at least 12 journalists.
18: Demarcation of the disputed border between Ethiopia and Eritrea is expected to start in May 2003, said UN sources. The physical construction and marking of the 1,000-km border will take between four and six months. Only after demarcation has been completed will critical issues such as transfers of land and populations between the two countries be carried out.
19: Ethiopia declined an Eritean offer to use its ports to deliver badly needed to help offset the effects of a drought that threatens millions of Ethiopians. "The problem at the moment is not about ports but how to obtain food," Netsannet Asfaw, the Ethiopian minister of state for information, said. "We have many ports that we can use and there is a difference between rejecting and saying this is not an issue." Both countries have been hit by a severe drought with at least 15 million in Ethiopia and Eritrea in need of aid.
19: The United Nations, in conjunction with the Eritrean government, launched its annual consolidated appeal for aid, asking for US $163.4 million in food and non-food assistance for Eritrea.
19: The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced plans to ship a further 62,300 mt of food aid to Ethiopia where some 14 million people face starvation from the harshest drought that has hit the country in years. The US has now pledged more than 250,000 mt of food to Ethiopia since July, making it the largest contributor.
22: The UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) has expressed concern over the severe drought that has hit millions of people in the region, and said it was looking at the potential implications of the drought on the peace process between the two countries following their border war from 1998-2000.
22: The interim chairman of the African Union (AU), Amara Essy, has appointed a special envoy for Somalia, according to an AU press statement. The envoy, Muhammad Ali Foum, who was appointed on Thursday, is a former Tanzanian diplomat.
22: Africa and China are planning to join forces in an attempt to secure a permanent seat for the continent at the UN Security Council. The move comes ahead of a joint high-level China and African summit to be held next year.
25: Tension is rising in Sool and Sanaag regions of the self-declared republic of Somaliland, to which both Somaliland and the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland have laid claim, said a local journalist. Tension has been rising in the area since Somaliland elders came to the Sool regional capital, Las Anood, he said. The elders were in Las Anood to reconcile two feuding clans in the area.
25: Almost one sixth of Ethiopia’s main harvest has been destroyed by drought, humanitarian organisations said. The UN’s World Food Programme said that the scale of the loss could have a “potentially devastating” impact on the country already facing food shortages.
27: According to figures recently compiled by the UN's Mine Action Coordination Centre (UNMACC), 163 people have been injured and 64 killed by landmines in the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) between Ethiopia and Eritrea. The TSZ has served as a buffer between the two countries since the end of their border war two years ago.
27: Britain is looking at boosting military links with Ethiopia, according to the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID). A team of officials, including Ministry of Defence representatives, is due to travel to Ethiopia early next year to consider strengthening ties.
28: UN agencies and their partners in Somalia are appealing to donors for some US $78 million for the year 2003, for a variety of emergency, recovery, and development projects in the country, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator's Office for Somalia said. The 2003 Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal for Somalia, launched regionally last week in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, contained 56 projects worth $77.8 million from 14 UN agencies and three NGOs. December 2: Hundreds of Eritrean detainees released by the Ethiopian government arrived at the border bridge of Mereb, near the southern town of Adi Quala. Officials from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said about 1,225 of the freed prisoners of war and civilian internees had chosen to return to the country. However, it said it could not give an exact count until every returnee was registered.
3: Somalia's Transitional National Government (TNG) and five Mogadishu-based factions have signed a joint ceasefire declaration committing themselves to ending violence in the Somali capital. Under the declaration, the sides agreed "to cease all kinds of hostilities now and in the future.” They also committed themselves to "fighting bandits and armed militias who have been killing and abducting innocent people” and agreed to resolve existing political differences "through dialogue and goodwill.”
4: The UN's World Food Programme (WFP) has condemned Somali groups for obstructing its efforts to deliver relief food to southern Somalia. The agency said various local authorities and militiamen had imposed "major obstacles" while it was recently transporting by some 700 mt of food by road. According to WFP, it took a 24-truck convoy three weeks - normally a three-day journey - to move from the southern port of Marka, to its destination in the town of Wajid, southwestern region of Bakol, because it was held up at 40 checkpoints.
7: Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi launched an international appeal for help in averting a looming famine threatening millions in the country. He spoke out as his government revealed that more than 11 million Ethiopians would need food aid next year; a further three million were at risk from the prevailing drought unless they received help – in total over 1.5 million mt of food.
10: Dec 2002 (IRIN) - The head of the World Bank in Ethiopia Ishac Diwan urged a greater role for private industry as the country was pledged US $3.6 billion towards tackling poverty.
10: The EC has pledged 70 million euros (US $68.6 million) towards providing food for millions of Ethiopians facing starvation. The pledge, which follows an international appeal by the government for help, brings the total value of EC emergency aid to Ethiopia to 97 million euros over the past year. The latest pledge equates to about 260,000 mt of food, and is expected to help meet needs for the first half of 2003.
11: Ethiopia’s ruling coalition is stifling opposition groups in the country which is leading to increased ethnic violence, said the current president of the European Union (EU) in Ethiopia, Greek Ambassador Spyros Aliagas. He warned that stifling opposition voices could lead to violence. He said a “remaining challenge” facing the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) was to advance democracy in the country.
12: Ethiopia should pledge more food to show “leadership and commitment” in tackling the drought, the US government’s Famine Early Warning System (FEWS NET) said in a report. The report said a larger food donation by the government would send a sign of its “commitment to the welfare of its people”. Meanwhile, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has declared that the country stands on the brink of sustained poverty alleviation. Donors have pledged some US $3.6 billion in support of the country’s poverty reduction strategy.
12: US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld completed his tour of the Horn of Africa and left for the Gulf state of Qatar. Djibouti was his last stop. The US believes that members of the al-Qaeda terrorist network have found refuge in Yemen, across the Bab al Mandab strait from Djibouti. Rumsfeld's whirlwind tour of the Horn of Africa this week also took him to Eritrea and Ethiopia where he discussed the global war against terror with leaders of the two countries. In Djibouti, he also held talks with President Ismail Omar Guelleh and said he was satisfied with that country's cooperation.
13: Ethiopia and Eritrea have said they will leave “no stone unturned” in enforcing speedy demarcation of the new border, announced Major General Robert Gordon, the UN’s newly appointed Force Commander. He said that military leaders from both countries had committed themselves to ensuring swift implementation of the 1,000-km border demarcation, and that the two countries were also preparing plans for raising awareness among border communities about demarcation and territorial changes.
13: The Military Coordination Commission (MCC), which brings together military leaders from Ethiopia and Eritrea, met in Nairobi after an eight-month gap. The 14th MCC meeting, chaired by Legwaila Joseph Legwaila, the head of the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), discussed the peace process between the two countries following their 1998-2000 border war. Participants focused on the military situation in the buffer zone between the two countries, known as the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ). They discussed coordination issues and ways of "preventing and responding to potentially disruptive incidents" on the border areas and inside the TSZ. They also held discussions on the demining process ahead of the physical demarcation of the new border, due to start next year.