Sudan: December 17, 1999


: The Khartoum government and the SPLA tentatively agreed on establishing "food and relief corridors" in southern Sudan for the safe passage of food and relief supplies to civilians.

December 15; Hassan al-Turabi denounced President Beshir as a man with a "coup mentality." Turabi told Arab journalists that the state of emergency (which he described as a coup) would increase political and armed resistance in the Sudan.

December 14; In an unexpected turn of events, Sadeq al-Mahdi, leader of the opposition Umma Party that concluded a "separate peace agreement" with the Khartoum government, denounced President Beshir's declaration of a state of emergency. In a TV broadcast monitored by Western sources, al-Mahdi said "Civil war hangs over the Sudan."

December 13; Britain objected to America's food aid plan for the southern Sudan. The US intends to send food straight to rebels, particularly the SPLA. The British argue that direct aid will further "destabilize" the Sudan.

December 12; Sudan declared a three-month long state of emergency. Parliament was dissolved. The reason for the state of emergency: a power struggle inside the ruling National Congress party and rebel gains in both the north and the south. The state of emergency gives General (now president) Omar al-Beshir total control of the Khartoum government. The political loser is Hassan al-Turabi.

December 11; SPLA leader John Garang said the agreement signed by Sudan and Uganda would not damage the SPLA since the SPLA does not operate from "bases within Uganda." Garang maintains the agreement calls for Uganda to "expel rebels within its territory."

December 8; Sudan and Uganda provisionally agreed to quit aiding rebel forces in each other's country. The key element of the agreement was the establishment of a "joint ministerial committee" to work out details and implement the agreement. Sudan sponsors several terrorist organizations inside Uganda, including the "Lord's Resistance Army." Uganda is a primary supporter of the SPLA.

December 8; SPLA leader John Garang said that the goal of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA -- the rebel "umbrella" organization) should be to topple the National Islamic Front (NIF) government. Garang also said that the NIF's "separate deal" with the Umma Party was a political gambit designed to "mobilize along racial and religious lines" the Islamic and Arab north of Sudan against the African Christian and animist south. The Umma Party left the NDA coalition in November.

December 2; Eritrean troops with heavy weapons have deployed along the border with Sudan. The Sudanese have long claimed that Eritrea supports the SPLA (Sudan People's Liberation Army) rebels, and that Eritrean troops have repeatedly invaded Sudan to support SPLA campaigns with artillery and other heavy weapons.--Stephen V Cole


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