December 15, 2002 – January 14, 2003
Part I – Sudan
2. Drama unfolds as talks stall
Part II- Northern Uganda
2. Sudan and Uganda to flush out rebels
Part III- Horn of Africa
Part 1 – Sudan
1. ChronologyDecember 16: A Sudanese government delegation left for Washington for US-sponsored unofficial talks with the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA). Advisor Ghazi Salah Eddin Atabani said the five-man delegation would meet with an SPLA delegation to pave the way for a third round of negotiations in Machakos, Kenya, next January.
17: Sudan's Foreign Minister Mustafa Ismail said that several Western nations had contacted Khartoum after suspected members of the al-Qaeda terror network and other groups had been picked up with fake Sudanese passports, adding that local Sudanese embassies were checking the documents.
17: Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir urged Parliament to extend a controversial state of emergency for a fourth year to fight instability in Sudan. The state of emergency empowers the president to dissolve Parliament, nullify any law, extend detentions, decree laws without the parliament's endorsement, and ban newspapers.
18: Sayed El Khatib, director of the Center for Strategic Studies in Khartoum, told allAfrica.com in Washington that Sudan's ruling National Islamic Front (NIF) has proposed the formation of a political alliance with the SPLM/A. "We have offered [the SPLM/A], aside from signing the agreement, that we [NIF] and you [SPLM/A] should form a political alliance because we are the major parties," he said.
18: State Foreign Minister Najeib al-Khair Abdel Wahab told visiting British envoy Alan Golty that Sudan "looks forward to an essential and constructive role by Britain in achieving peace, safeguarding the territorial integrity and upholding the national texture of the Sudan."
19: Arab League Secretary General Amr Mussa urged members of the Arab League to help the Sudan government develop south Sudan economically so as to reduce the risk of south Sudan seceding. At the same meeting, Sudanese foreign minister Mustafa Osman Ismail praised continuing peace efforts for Sudan, saying that for the first time in two decades there was no fighting between southern rebels and the government. Ismail declared 2003 the year for peace and development in south Sudan.
19: Sudan security authorities confiscated Thursday's editions of three independent newspapers: Al-Horriyah; Al-Sahafa; and Al-Sahafi Al-Dawli, allegedly for publishing the day before a statement by the animal resources ministry denying as baseless a rumour that there was a livestock-related disease contracted by human beings from beef and milk.
20: The politically influential Ansar sect has chosen former Prime Minister Sadiq el-Mahdi as its spiritual leader, consolidating el-Mahdi's position as leader of the opposition within Sudan to the military-backed government.
20: In a statement released by the U.S. State Department during their talks in Washington, the Sudan government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) said they would strive to avoid "provocative" rhetoric before peace negotiations resume early next year.
21: The Sudanese Human Rights Group called for the Sudan government to release Omar Abdel Aziz Omar, a fourth year medical student, who has been in police custody since Dec. 4 following a political rally.
22: The ceasefire in the Nuba Mountains area between the Sudan government and the SPLM/A has been extended until July 19, 2003.
22: Sudan Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail announced at an Arab League meeting in Cairo that the Sudan government is hoping to sign a final peace deal with southern rebels by mid-2003.
23: The Sudan Parliament unanimously approved the extension of a three-year-old state of emergency for another year. Amongst other things, the state of emergency grants police wide powers to ban political gatherings and make arrests without charge.
24: A former university professor in Sudan launched a sex strike in an attempt to bring to an end the 19-year-old civil war. "Women decided that by withholding sex from their men they could force them to commit to peace - and it's worked," said Samira Ahmed. She explained the strategy that Sudanese women in the Upper Nile region of south Sudan use to end the war. It is called alHair in Arabic, which means "sexual abandoning" of their men.
24: The Sudan government has ratified the International Atomic Energy Agency’s international treaty banning nuclear tests, Foreign Minister Mustafa Ismail said.
25: After meeting with French officials in France, Sudan peace advisor Dr Ghazi Salah- al-Din Atabani said that the French government was considering nominating a peace envoy to Sudan.
25: SPLM/A leader John Garang arrived in Nigeria for talks with Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo. The leaders' talk focused on the crisis in Sudan.
26: Senior officials of the Sudan government – Peace Advisor Ghazi Salah Eddin Atabani, First Vice President Ali Osman Taha, and Foreign Minister Mustafa Ismail – headed to Nigeria for talks with SPLM/A leader Dr. John Garang.
27: Meetings between Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) leader Dr. John Garang and Sudan First Vice President Ali Osman Taha failed to materialize in Nigeria. Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo met separately Thursday with the two leaders at his farm on the outskirts of Lagos, but Taha returned to Sudan on Friday without meeting Garang. Officials declined to comment on why the meeting didn’t occur.
28: Two daily independent newspapers – Al- Horriyah and Al-Sahafa – failed to appear on the newsstands because state security officials had warned their editors that the editions would be confiscated due to the publication of material criticizing the government, said senior journalists at both papers.
28: Sudanese authorities closed down the independent daily Al-Watan late Saturday. A newspaper executive said the security personnel had demanded that staff leave the premises without giving any explanation for the closure. The ban was ordered by the director general of internal security "under the state of emergency law and for maintenance of security and public safety.”
28: At a mass rally in the eastern border town of Kassala, 400 kilometres east of Khartoum, Sudan President Omar el-Bashir vowed to use the "barrel of the gun" to bring peace to Sudan if ongoing negotiations fail. "If peace will not come through negotiations in (the Kenyan town of) Machakos, we will bring it through the barrel of the gun," he told the crowd.
29: As he arrived in Khartoum, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal promised to promote economic and political cooperation with Sudan. "Although Arab concerns are high in every Arab encounter, this visit will be wholly devoted to bilateral relations between the two countries and means of development," he said.
30: Seventeen people were killed in two raids by armed robbers in Southern Darfur state, western Sudan, a remote part of the vast country where tribal clashes are common.
30: The SPLM/A said it would lodge a complaint with regional mediators about Sudan President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s statement that he would use force if talks failed to end Sudan’s 19-year-old civil war. "What is happening is a breach of the agreement and harmful to negotiations and to the procedures of confidence-building," said SPLA spokesman Yasser Orman.
30: The Sudan government defended its decision to close down the independent daily Al-Watan, saying it was involved in a series of defamatory acts, blackmail, and undermined Sudan's relations with other countries.
31: Talisman Energy Inc. said it is taking longer than expected to complete the sale of its stake in a controversial Sudan oil project to India's Oil and Natural Gas Corp., but sees the deal closing before the end of January. The CAN$1.2 billion ($758 million) deal for the 25 percent share of the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Co., announced in October, was subject to approval by Sudan and Talisman's partners, including China National Petroleum Corp., Malaysia's state oil firm Petronas, and Sudan's Sudapet.
January 1, 2003: In his Independence Day speech, Sudan President Omar Hassan al-Bashir promised to work for a peace deal that ensured broad participation in decision-taking and power-sharing in a country split by a long-running civil war. "The peace that we seek...is a peace for all those in both North and South, a peace which ensures the participation of all in the taking of decisions and the sharing of power and wealth.”
1: The Indian government has launched a top-level diplomatic initiative with the4 Sudan government to secure a Sudanese oil field where ONGC Videsh Ltd's proposal to buy Canadian Talisman Energy's 25 per cent stake for $720 million is facing problems from partners Petronas of Malaysia and CNCP of China.
1: The SPLM said Sudan government forces launched a large-scale attack with tanks and helicopters on rebel-held positions in the oil-producing areas of Leir, Tam, and the area around the town of Renk, about 420 km south of Khartoum, and had also bombed civilians. The rebels said the attack against SPLA positions was a serious violation of a cessation of hostilities agreement signed by both sides.
2: Gen. Mohamed Basher Sulieman accused SPLA forces of launching an attack on the road between Ler and Bentiu, a government-held oil town in the Upper Nile Province, some 750 km south of Khartoum, killing three construction workers and injuring an unspecified number of soldiers.
2: The SPLM/A announced that a third round of peace talks aimed at ending Sudan's 19-year civil war are to start in Kenya on January 15. "The regional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) mediators fixed January 15 as the date for starting the talks and this has been approved by the SPLA and the Government of Sudan," said SPLA spokesman Samson Kwaje.
2: Nigeria has revived its peace efforts in Sudan, pledging not to relent in its efforts to bring together the two sides to the conflict, President Olusegun Obasanjo's spokesman Tunji Oseni said in Abuja. He said Nigeria is convinced that the two sides are interested in achieving peace.
3: The European Union issued a statement saying that it was concerned about Sudan's respect for human rights and asked its government not to carry out five executions and amputations set for January 5.
3: The SPLA accused the government of trying to capture an oil-rich region – Block 4, which covers parts of Kordofan, Unity, and Bahr el-Ghazal states, and Block 5A, which lies primarily in Unity State and northern Bahr el-Ghazal – in order to allow Austrian, Chinese, Malaysian, and Swedish companies to go ahead with exploration plans.
3: The national oil companies of China, Malaysia and Sudan, as well as the government of Sudan, are opposed to Talisman Energy Inc.'s sale of its 25 per cent stake in a large oil project in Sudan to a state-owned Indian oil company and want to unwind the deal, reported Canada’s Financial Post. The conflict could delay the closing of the CAN$1.2-billion transaction beyond a new Jan. 31 deadline.
4: Sudanese Justice Minister Ali Mohammed Osman Yassin said that not even Sudan President Omar el-Bashir could commute the death and amputation sentences imposed against five Sudanese people, despite pressure from the European union to do so. Details about the five were not available. He said that relatives of the criminal’s victims could only issue a pardon, or if family members were paid “blood money.”
5: Sudanese authorities ordered a curfew in Port Sudan, on the Red Sea, to avoid a "bloodbath" after a tribal chief was slain by a man from a rival tribe who was avenging his brother's death.
5: Presidential peace adviser Dr Ghazi Salah-al-Din said that the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development failed to notify the Sudan government that the peace talks set for January 6 in Kenya had been postponed. He said the date was not confirmed in writing by the IGAD secretariat, as has always been the case.
6: Ethiopia has decided to import oil from the Sudan starting from this year, reported the Ethiopian News Agency. The Ethiopian Petroleum Enterprise was quoted as saying that purchasing good-quality oil from Sudan could help Ethiopia save $US30 per metric ton.
6: Following heavy criticism from the European Union, Sudan has postponed the executions of five convicted criminals, said Justice Minister Ali Mohamed Osman Yassin. He did not give a reason for the decision nor how long the postponement would last, but stressed it was not due to foreign pressure.
6: Foreign Minister Mustafa Ismail accused the SPLM/A of failing to consult with Khartoum or the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) when it set the January 15 date for the resumption of peace talks in Kenya. SPLA spokesman Samson Kwaje said IGAD, the Sudan government, and the SPLM/A all agreed to that date.
7: Six people were killed and others wounded in tribal clashes and riots in different parts of Port Sudan following the stabbing to death of a tribal leader.
7: Career diplomat Mull Katende has been appointed Uganda’s ambassador to Sudan, marking the restoration of full diplomatic ties between the two countries that were broken off in 1995 after each accused each other of backing rebel groups hostile to their respective governments. Two months ago, Sudan confirmed the appointment of Mohammed Sirajuddin as its ambassador to Uganda.
7: The US special envoy for Sudan former senator John Danforth will next week visit Sudan, Egypt, Kenya and Eritrea for talks on the peace process following discussions between delegations from Khartoum and the rebels in Washington last month.
7: Sudanese Finance Minister Zubair Ahmed Hassan and his Saudi counterpart, Ibrahim Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Assad signed an agreement in which Saudi Arabia is lending Sudan $150 million towards the construction of a $1.6 billion Nile dam project. The dam is planned in Merowe, 350 km north of Khartoum, near the Nile's fourth cataract.
8: The US Central Intelligence Agency has accused Sudan, Libya, and Syria of quietly trying to acquire or expand secret arsenals of weapons of mass destruction. The agency said that Sudan "has been developing the capability to produce chemical weapons for many years" and "may be interested in a BW (biological weapons) program as well."
8: British authorities have granted asylum to Mende Nazer, a Sudanese woman who claimed a Sudanese diplomat kept her as a slave while he was posted to London. Nazer, 23, claimed to have escaped from the house of the diplomat, Abdel al-Koronky, in 2000, and subsequently applied for asylum.
8: Sudan plans to ask Arab foreign ministers due to meet in Khartoum on January 13-14 to "discuss the possibility of exerting efforts" to avert a US-led war on Iraq. Nine Arab ministers are to attend the meeting scheduled to discuss setting up an Arab fund for the reconstruction of southern Sudan, ravage by nearly 20 years of civil war.
8: The Sudan government said it would not discuss issues of central Sudan – which includes the Nuba Mountains, the Blue Nile and Abyei, parts of which are under the control of the SPLA – until progress is made on negotiations with the SPLM/A about the south. It rejected a proposal by Kenyan mediator Lazaro Sumbeiywo to hold a January 15 meeting on the central region with the SPLM/A.
9: Ugandan and Sudanese defense ministers met in Kampala to discuss how to enhance cooperation in the fight against the Ugandan rebel group the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).
9: Sudan says it is waiting to receive a C.I.A. report on countries that the U.S. believes is acquiring or stockpiling weapons of mass destruction. U.S. suspicions that Sudan was trying to produce biological, chemical and nuclear weapons led to a U.S. air strike on a pharmaceutical factory at Shifa in 1998. Sudan's Foreign Minister Mustafa Othman Ismail said Sudan has nothing to do with mass destruction weapons.
9: Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni urged Sudan to find a quick and lasting solution to the conflict in the southern part of the country. Museveni made the call when he was meeting visiting Sudanese Defense Minister Bakri Hassan Salih in Gulu town, northern Uganda.
10: Sudanese official announce that Sudan plans to send its troops to the south of the country to occupy camps formerly held by Uganda rebels, who have waged a 15-year insurgency against the Ugandan government. The occupation of the camps is expected to prevent the rebels, who have proved an elusive target for the Ugandan government forces, from rebasing in southern Sudan.
11: The European Union "strongly condemned" what it described as the tragic execution of prisoners in Sudan, stressing that such actions harm relations between the EU and Sudan. "The EU strongly condemns the executions of three persons recently sentenced to death in Sudan," the EU said in a statement. A total of five people had received the death sentence recently.
11: The foreign ministers of Sudan, Yemen, and Ethiopia, meeting in Khartoum, vowed to promote stability, security, and development in their countries and the Horn of Africa. Sudan's Foreign Minister, Mustafa Isamel said they also discussed the peace process in Sudan and Somalia.
11: Sudanese radio announced that SLPA forces launched an attack on Sudanese soldiers safeguarding workers along the Rabkona-Nuer road, considered to be one of the most important development projects in western Nuer region in southern Sudan. It also attacked Sudanese armed forces at Marmar area in the same region, the report said.
12: Sudan's government accused the SPLM/A of violating a tenuous ceasefire by attacking three regions about 750 km southwest of Khartoum in the oil-rich Unity State, but the rebel movement swiftly denied the claim and charged that Khartoum was planning an attack. The SPLA denied it had launched an attack.
12: The foreign ministers of Sudan, Ethiopia, and Yemen called for regional cooperation to combat terrorism, according to a joint communique issued Sunday at the end of two days of talks held in Khartoum.
12: U.S. envoy to Sudan John C. Danforth warned the country's feuding parties that Washington may stop supporting peace talks if a settlement is not reached within six months. He told reporters after meeting Egypt's foreign minister that the United States might lose interest in the Sudanese peace process if the African nation's Islamic-oriented government and southern rebels fail to agree within six months on terms to end their two-decade-old civil war.
13: Presidential peace adviser Ghazi Salah Eddin Atabani said Khartoum will not resume peace talks with southern rebels planned to start January 15 in Kenya if they cover three disputed regions – Nuba Mountains, Southern Blue Nile, and Abyei – in the centre of the country.
13: Peace talks between Khartoum and the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) will resume in Kenya this week with a special session in Nairobi to discuss disputed areas in the centre of the country, an SPLM/A spokesman said.
14: The Sudanese government will not attend peace talks with the SPLM/A because the government disagrees with the agenda laid out by the Kenyan mediator, said government spokesman Sayed Khateeb. Kenyan mediator Gen. Lazaro Sumbeiywo has said invitations have been sent for talks resume Jan. 15. He has said they would focus on administration over three disputed areas in central Sudan under northern control that are sought by southern rebels: the Abyei area of West Kordofan, the Nuba Mountains area of Southern Kordofan and the Angasana of Blue Nile province.
14: Sudan and Israel are reportedly cooperating on irrigation and agricultural development projects, despite the fact that the Islamic government of the east African state has no formal ties with the Jewish state, the Israeli daily Maariv revealed.
2. Drama unfolds as talks stall
By Cathy Majtenyi
Officials and outside experts involved in on-going peace talks between the Sudan government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) spent the weekend of January 18-19 discussing how to move forward following an apparent stalemate in the talks.
Negotiations were supposed to resume in Nairobi on January 15. However, only Sudan Ambassador Ali Abdelrehman Nimeri showed up from the government side, with the message that the government would not come back to the table.
He told the gathering that his government is “still awaiting an invitation” from the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the body facilitating the talks, to formally resume talks where they left off on November 18.
And, the Sudan government strongly disagrees with the proposal by Kenyan mediator Gen. Lazaro Sumbeiywo to open the talks by discussing issues in the disputed areas of the Nuba Mountains, Southern Blue Nile, and Abyei, an agenda that was not included in the November 18 Memorandum of Understanding that the two sides signed, said Nimeri.
Sumbeiywo then organized a weekend “symposium” during which delegations from the Sudan government, SPLM/A, and European experts discussed the three disputed areas and how to move forward on the talks.
A Sudan government spokesperson was quoted in the press as saying the meeting would be a “brainstorming” session in which all sides would “present positions.”
Sen. John Danforth, the U.S.’s special envoy to Sudan who was in Nairobi “to help renew the momentum” of the peace talks, was optimistic that the weekend’s meetings would chart the way forward.
“I think they were deadlocked yesterday [January 16]; I don’t think they are deadlocked today [January 17],” Danforth told the press.
“I believe that the next three months are critical and there is a sense of urgency, and that there must be a sense of urgency,” said Danforth. “I do not think that this should be allowed to drag on indefinitely. We have high expectations that the peace process will go forward and will be successfully concluded.”
In earlier interviews and statements, the Sudan government said that, according the November 18 Memorandum of Understanding, the issues of wealth and power sharing were supposed to be at the top of the agenda of January 15’s meeting, followed by security arrangements.
The Sudan government and SPLM/A have repeatedly clashed over the issue of the disputed areas. The SPLM/A says that the Nuba Mountains of Southern Kordofan, the Abyei area, and Southern Blue Nile should be included in the political boundaries of the south, while the government says they belong to the north.
“The three areas, just like any other area in the northern part of Sudan, fall out of the focus of the IGAD Initiative,” said Nimeri, adding that the political boundaries of north and south were clearly defined in the Machakos Protocol signed last year and earlier IGAD statements.
“The very fact that the question of the three areas is now being projected as the main subject of negotiations, and also the very fact that this meeting is being held despite repeated representations from the government not to hold it, are proof enough that the atmosphere of trust is seriously deteriorating,” said Nimeri.
But issues in these three areas need to be tackled before a lasting peace can come to the war-torn country, says the SPLM/A. In previous interviews, officials have said that the areas – parts of which are controlled by the SPLM/A – have the same kinds of problems and experiences that the south have and should therefore be included in the south.
“We cannot discuss security arrangements unless we resolve the issue of the three areas,” SPLM/A spokesperson Samson Kwaje told the press. “Otherwise, we may have peace between the south and the north, but they’ll be fighting in Abyei, Southern Blue Nile, and southern Kordofan.”
Kwaje also denied that IGAD officials did not formally invite the government to come back to the table. He said that “someone in the [Sudan] embassy” in Nairobi had signed for a December 17 invitation letter that IGAD had sent to the government and the SPLM/A. “They cannot accuse General Sumbeiywo for not having invited them officially. This is not true.”
The Sudan government was also aware that the top agenda item involved discussing the three disputed areas, claimed Kwaje. He said that Gen. Sumbeiywo had, on December 26, sent all parties an agenda called “Programme of Work” in which it described how, from January 15 to February 5, the two sides would iron out issues concerning the three areas.
Kwaje said General Sumbeiywo, Kenyan Foreign Affairs Minister Kalonzo Musyoka, Sudan Ambassador Nimeri, SPLM/A officials, and others are meeting to plan the next step.
In a press conference about another subject one day after the meeting, Kenyan Foreign Affairs Minister Kalonzo Musyoka said: “There is solid progress in the case of Sudan. What we were experiencing in Karen [Nairobi] is a temporary set-back.”
At the January 15 meeting, Musyoka said he was optimistic about the negotiations’ outcome. “I believe now the time has come to reap the benefits of hard work and serious commitment,” he said, adding that: “we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
Despite the disagreement on the agenda, both the Sudan government and the SPLM/A said they were keen to resume negotiations.
And, “both sides indicated to me a willingness to work towards putting in place an expanded monitoring system to ensure that military activities [would] not continue,” said Danforth, who also met with Sudan President Omar el-Bashir and his peace advisor Ghazi Salaheddin.
However, there is cause for concern. Danforth said that there has been recent government-instigated fighting in western Upper Nile and a lack of humanitarian access in Southern Blue Nile and eastern parts of the country.
The government of Sudan and the SPLM/A, which have been at war with one another since 1983, have been meeting in Machakos, Kenya, since the middle of last year. Last July, the two sides signed the historic Machakos Protocol that laid the groundwork for a peaceful settlement to the on-going civil war.
The 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.
Analysts hailed the agreement as a major breakthrough in the war between the north and the south. 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 Bentiu state, as well as human rights abuses committed by the SPLA itself. Overall, the war has left an estimated two million people dead.
Part II- Northern Uganda
December 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. "There is a policy and principle of allowing UPDF on Sudanese soil that will continue for as long as it takes to do the job," said Uganda People's Defence Force (UPDF) spokesman Major Shaban Bantariza.
27: The Ugandan government signed a peace deal with over 2,000 former soldiers of the exiled former president, Idi Amin, following five years of negotiations. Under the terms of the agreement, about 700 of the ex-soldiers, who returned from their bases in Sudan this year, would be integrated into the Ugandan army. Others, who were not being integrated into the army, would exchange their weapons for agricultural tools in the tobacco-growing West Nile region. 30: The leader of the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), Joseph Kony, has reportedly telephoned a radio station in northern Uganda to say he is ready to enter peace talks with the Ugandan government, according to news agencies. "I want genuine peace talks with government. I initiated a ceasefire, but it is government which seems to work against peace," the BBC quoted Kony as saying on Saturday in a phone-in to Mega FM, a radio station based in the northern town of Gulu. ENDS
2. Sudan and Uganda to flush out rebels
By Zachary Ochieng
In an attempt to bring lasting peace and restore diplomatic relations between them, Sudan and Uganda have agreed to flush out rebels operating in each other’s territory. For its part, Sudan plans to send its troops to the south of the country to occupy camps formerly held by Uganda rebels, who have waged a 15-year insurgency against the Ugandan government, officials said.
“The Sudan People's Armed Forces (SPAF) will deploy in the former camps occupied by the LRA as soon as possible," said a joint communiqué signed by the defence ministers of Sudan and Uganda and issued to reporters on January 9. "The Sudanese government reiterates its firm position against any contacts by SPAF units with LRA," added the communiqué.
The ministers, Uganda's Amama Mbabazi and Sudan's Major General Bakri Hassan Saleh issued the communiqué after meeting Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni.
The occupation of the camps is expected to prevent the rebels, who have proved an elusive target for the Ugandan government forces, from re-establishing their bases in southern Sudan.
Led by the self-declared prophet Joseph Kony, the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) is feared for abducting children to use as soldiers and sex slaves and terrorising villagers by cutting off their ears and padlocking their lips. In their most recent attack in a village dance hall in northern Uganda, early this month, the LRA joined in the dancing for several hours before hacking and clubbing five people to death.
Last month, the two countries renewed an agreement that allows Uganda's army to pursue Ugandan rebels on Sudanese territory, although Sudan had said in November it would not extend the agreement.
Sudan withdrew its support for the Ugandan rebels in 1999 and allowed the Ugandan army onto its territory last March to flush the LRA from their bases in southern Sudan.
Sudan and its southern neighbour Uganda have in the past traded allegations that each country was allowing rebel groups to operate on their soil.
President Museveni, currently in Gulu for the military operation to rout the rebels, has deployed at least 14,000 soldiers as well as tanks and artillery to smash the rebellion.
For his part, Museveni has urged the Sudan to find a quick and lasting solution to the conflict in the southern part of the country. Museveni made the appeal as he welcomed visiting Sudanese Defence Minister Bakri Hassan Salih in Gulu town, northern Uganda early this month.
Museveni and Saleh agreed that for Uganda and Sudan to achieve meaningful economic growth, a peaceful environment must prevail on both sides of the border.
The Sudanese minister arrived in Uganda to discuss with his Ugandan counterpart further cooperation in the battle against the LRA rebels, operating in the southern part of the Sudan.
On January 9, Sudan urged neighbouring Uganda to clamp down on members of the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) on its territory, and notably to prevent the group from importing arms through Uganda, officials said.
The request for tougher measures against the SPLA, which is fighting for self-determination of southern Sudan, was made by a visiting delegation from Khartoum, which was led by Saleh.
"The proposal spells out what the true status of the SPLA in Uganda should be," said Mohamed Sirajuddin, Sudan's ambassador to Uganda, explaining the details of a request put to Kampala by the Sudanese delegation.
"They (SPLA) should not come into Uganda armed, they should not import arms through Uganda and they should not carry out activities that are injurious to the security of the region," Sirajuddin told reporters at Entebbe airport before the departure of the Sudanese delegation.
On January 7, Uganda appointed an ambassador to Sudan, marking the restoration of full diplomatic ties between the neighbouring countries. Diplomatic relations were severed in 1995 after both countries accused each other of backing rebel groups hostile to their respective governments.
Kampala had accused Khartoum of backing the LRA, a brutal group active in northern Uganda, which has rear bases in southern Sudan, while Khartoum accused Kampala of supporting rebels of the SPLA.
In December 1999, the two countries signed an accord in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, under which they promised to stop backing each other's rebel groups and to work towards resuming diplomatic relations, which were restored at charge d'affairs level in 2001.
"We think that Sudan has played its part by implementing its part on the LRA and we think it is now Uganda's turn to implement its part," said Sirajuddin, adding that Khartoum expected Kampala to treat all SPLA members based in Uganda as refugees.
Part III- Horn of Africa
December 16: Faction leaders attending the Somali peace talks in Eldoret, Kenya, agreed to have a maximum of 300 participants after meeting with conference chairman, Elijah Mwangale, Kenya’s special envoy to Somalia. The leaders initially called for 400 participants, while the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) - which is brokering the conference - said the numbers attending phase two of the talks should be reduced to 287.
17: Ahmad Haji Ali Adami, chairman of the electoral commission in the self-declared republic of Somaliland, had described the December 15 local elections as a success. Independent observers also described the polling as being peaceful. However, there was no voting in the disputed Lasanod district following an attack earlier this month on the visiting Somaliland leader, Dahir Riyaleh Kahin.
17: Representatives of the private sector and civil society groups criticized Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi during a December 15 public debate on policy issues. They slammed the government's agriculture-based industrial development plan and called for schemes whereby rural land could be privatised and under which farmers could secure bank loans and adopt modern agricultural techniques. They also described the current justice system as being "partisan.”
18: The European Commission announced that it would increase its emergency aid to Eritrea - which is in the grip of a devastating drought - to over 15 million euros by the end of this year. The new contribution is equivalent to about 40,000 mt of cereals, which will be available in the country starting from March 2003. "This comes in addition to the food aid assistance already provided during the last quarter of 2002 (€5.8 million or 15,000 mt)," an EC statement said.
20: The UN's World Food Programme warned there would not be enough food supplies to care for about one million Eritreans in the coming months. WFP said it had only received US $9 million of food and cash contributions against a request last month for US $105 million. The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) warned that 2.8 million Eritreans - over half the population - were experiencing pre-famine conditions due to the devastating drought currently gripping the country.
23: Angela Kane, a German national, currently the Director of the Americas and Europe Division of the UN's Department of Political Affairs, has been appointed a new deputy special representative for the UN mission for Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), effective January 15, 2003.
24: The Somali peace talks currently under way in Eldoret, Kenya, were adjourned until after the Kenyan elections. They are scheduled to resume December 30.
26: At least four students were killed and 15 others wounded when heavily armed gunmen opened fire on a school bus in south Mogadishu on December 25. The incident took place in Wardigley district when the gunmen attacked the bus shortly after it had picked up the students from the Ahmad Gurey School, near Ali Kamiin junction. The motive for the attack is unclear, but is reported to be related to infighting between two Hawiye clans - the Saleeban (Habar Gedir) and Murusade.
30: The peace process between Ethiopia and Eritrea is progressing steadily, despite difficulties and delays, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a December 27 Security Council report. Annan said that since the cease-fire agreement was signed between the two countries in June 2000, Ethiopia had released all remaining Eritrean prisoners of war, adding that he was encouraged by the fact that there had been no ceasefire violations since the establishment of the Temporary Security Zone.
30: More than 11 million Ethiopians are facing severe food shortages following a prolonged dry spell leading to poor harvests in many parts of the country, according to a joint report released by the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP). January 2, 2003: With the deadline for the cessation of refugee status for Eritreans expiring on December 31, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said thousands are seeking continued refugee status in Sudan and other countries, while others have asked to be taken home or have applied to remain as immigrants.
2: Fighting broke out around the villages of Jadid and Qararsoor in the Qardho area, some 260 km south of Bosaso, the commercial capital of the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland, according to local sources. The fighting pitted forces loyal to Col Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmad against those of Jama Ali Jama, both of whom claim to be the legitimate president of Puntland. More than 40 people were reported to have been killed.
3: Authorities in the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland have accused neighbouring Somaliland of supporting dissident forces, charges dismissed by Somaliland.
6: The Somali national reconciliation conference resumed in the Kenyan town of Eldoret after a two-week break.
7: The UN’s Emergencies Unit for Ethiopia has said relaxing border controls in the east may help struggling pastoralists in their fight against the drought. Many pastoralists use the borders for trading and will often cross with their livestock into either Djibouti or Somalia. It often provides a lifeline in times of hardship.
7: With the renewal of hostilities in parts of Somalia, Maxwell Gaylard, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, called on all parties to the Eldoret peace declaration to respect their commitments. He noted that despite commitments made by the Somali leaders to cease hostilities, violence and armed conflict in some parts of the country had escalated since the signing of the agreement.
7: The offices of a local human rights group Isha [Somali for "eye"] in the south-central town of Baidoa have been attacked by armed militiamen, according to Mahmud Shaykh Ali, the deputy head of Isha. He said the break-in, the second since 2000, "may have something to do with our activities, but we are not sure yet. There are plenty of people who are unhappy with what we do.”
8: The UN Security Council has called on Eritrea and Ethiopia to ensure the smooth demarcation of their common border, due to take place this year.In a statement, members urged both countries to cooperate fully with the UN mission in the region (UNMEE) and the independent Boundary Commission.
8: Somali political groups participating in the Eldoret peace talks have called on Kenya's new president, Mwai Kibaki, to save the talks from collapse. The leaders' committee alleged that the talks were being mismanaged and conducted contrary to agreements. They also complained about the allocation of extra seats over and above the agreed 300. They said the number of delegates, which currently stands at 400, "should remain as already fixed and without further change or increase.”
8: Tribal fighting is believed to have left as many as 40 people dead in recent clashes sparked by the severe drought in Ethiopia. The clashes, which occurred near Fentale in eastern Ethiopia, broke out after Afar pastoralists moved into Kereyou territory to graze their animals. According to one local source, dozens of Kereyou tribesmen were killed in the fighting with armed Afar men.
8: Eritrea's food crisis is expected to worsen quickly unless rapid action is taken, and the number of drought-affected people is likely to increase this year, the US government's Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS) has warned. It noted that 1.4 million people - over a third of the population - were directly affected by drought and this number was set to increase this year, and more than two thirds of the population required food and non-food aid.
10: The UN Development Programme (UNDP) launched the National UN Volunteer Scheme aimed at using volunteers to tackle Ethiopia’s massive shortage of professionals. The project will target skilled Ethiopians to try and get them involved in development work in the country. It will allow organisations such as aid agencies and government departments to tap into a massive pool of professionals registered with the UN.
10: The UN’s peacekeeping mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea is facing a cash shortfall the may delay border demarcation. The UN’s Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) says that demarcation of the disputed border between the two countries will cost around US $7.6 million. But up until a few days ago, the Trust Fund - where money for demarcation is held - stood at US $3 million.
13: US military commanders have said counter-terrorism activities in the Horn of Africa region over the last 30 days have "set the stage for success.” A spokesman for the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF), Major Stephen Cox, said that the US was working with host nations to "deny the re-emergence of terrorist cells and activities.” The force commander, Major General John Sattler, said areas under particular scrutiny included Somalia and coastlines across the Gulf of Aden. He stressed that the US was in a coalition with regional states.
13: UN officials made their first visit to a troubled refugee camp in western Ethiopia where more than 40 people were killed during ethnic clashes two months ago. But the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said tensions in Ethiopia's remote Fugnido camp still remained high.
13: One quarter of Ethiopia’s children could be orphaned by the HIV/AIDS virus within eight years, experts warned during a conference on HIV/AIDS in Addis Ababa, where it was also revealed that 2.2 million Africans are dying of the virus each year. 14: A prominent Mogadishu-based faction leader Muse Sudi Yalahow left the Eldoret peace talks because he is unhappy over the progress of the meeting.
14: Technical committees discussing core issues of the Somali conflict should conclude their work this month, Kenya’s special envoy for Somalia Elijah Mwangale announced. This means that the power-sharing phase of peace talks should start early next month, he said.