Monday, September 16, 2002

Sudan: Update on 'Peace'.

Date: Monday 16 September 2002
Subj: Sudan: Update on 'Peace'.
To: World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty E-mail Conference
From: Elizabeth Kendal, Conference Moderator

On 20 July 02, the Government of the Republic of Sudan and the Southern People's Liberation Movement/Army, signed the "Machakos Protocol" at the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) talks in Nairobi, Kenya (see WEA RLC posting "Sudan - Translating a Document into a Reality").

The parties met in Kenya again on 12 August to negotiate power sharing, distribution of oil revenues, human rights and a ceasefire. Direct negotiations commenced on 2 September following twenty days of indirect negotiations through international mediators from IGAD, the USA and Europe. The same day direct negotiations commenced, the Government of Sudan (GoS) withdrew from the talks.


A ceasefire had not been declared in the July talks and so the fighting in the south continued unabated. To many observers it actually appeared that Government of Sudan (GoS) was escalating its people-clearing operations around the oil fields in anticipation of a ceasefire being negotiated in the August / September talks.

An AFP news report on 1 August entitled, "Sudan says it fights to secure oil areas, prevent attacks" said, "The Sudanese government said here (Khartoum) Wednesday, that its forces had engaged in 'military battles' in southern Sudan but that they were part of previous actions to secure oil fields or prevent future rebel attacks.

"The SPLA has put the civilian death toll during a weekend attack by government forces on southern Mayom county at 300 people, with up to 100,000 displaced." (See Link 1)

On 1 September however, the Southern People's Liberation Army (SPLA) had a major military victory and captured the strategic major garrison town of Torit. Torit was the scene of the first southern uprising against the central government in 1955 and had been the rebels' headquarters until GoS forces captured it in 1992. It was this SPLA victory that provoked the GoS withdrawal from the peace talks on 2 September.

According to the BBC's Alfred Taban, the GoS immediately commenced recruiting for mujahideen at universities and schools in preparation for a major offensive. Reuters reported the SPLA as saying their capture of Torit had simply been a response to a government offensive.


Hundreds of government supporters took to the streets of Sudan's capital, Khartoum, to protest the rebel capture of Torit. President Omar al-Bashir vowed that government forces would retake Torit. "The jihad process will continue until peace, security and stability is achieved," he said. quoted Sudanese defence minister Bakri Hassan Saleh as saying "the army is able to restore back Torit. The Mujahideen will teach the people's army for liberating Sudan (SPLA) an unforgettable lesson."

According to the Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), (part of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs), the GoS dropped some 100 bombs on Torit on Monday 9 September.

On 10 September, the AFP published and article entitled, "Sudan's Beshir vows to 'impose' peace". The following statements are excerpts: "Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir vowed to 'impose' peace in Sudan. 'We manufacture weapons and arm ourselves, not for war but for imposing peace,' said Beshir. 'We and all the Sudanese people were pleased when peace came into sight, but the rebel movement spoiled this pleasure,' Beshir said. Beshir also inspected Monday (9/9) a newly-expanded ammunition factory at Khartoum's Shajarah neighbourhood, and claimed that his country now 'manufactures all the sorts of ammunition it needs.'" (See link 2).


The GoS has received intense criticism from Egypt (concerned about its Nile water supply should Southern Sudan secede) and from Islamists inside Sudan, over the Machakos Protocol. (For an example of Islamist resistance see link 3).

The Washington Post has revealed that European, Pakistani and U.S. investigators have reported that large quantities gold belonging to al Qaeda and the Taliban have recently been shipped out of Pakistan and into Sudan via United Arab Emirates and Iran. (See link 4). Sudanese authorities however, have been quick to deny the reports and that they have any link to international terrorism. (See link 5).

Observers are watching to see which way Khartoum will decide to go. The hope is that they will return to the talks and face the difficult issues pertaining to a ceasefire - particularly the issue of where the border of Southern Sudan lies (the GoS puts it considerably further south than the Southerners do).

- Elizabeth Kendal


1) AFP "Sudan says it fights to secure oil areas, prevent attacks"
31 July 2002

2) AFP "Sudan's Beshir vows to 'impose' peace" 10 Sept 2002

3) "The true reality of the Machakos protocol"

4) WP "Al Qaeda Gold Moved to Sudan" 3 Sept 2002

5) AFP "Sudan denies receiving al-Qaeda gold" 4 Sept 2002