December 23; Christian Solidarity International (CSI), one of several activist religious NGOs operating in southern Sudan, announced that from December 11-18 it freed 5514 black slaves from Sudanese Moslem slavers. CSI says that since 1995 it has freed 20,960 slaves at $50 a person. CSI says most of the slaves are seized in Bahr El Ghazal province. Typically, Muslim "militias" operating on behalf of the government take "prisoners" from the black African tribes, then sell the "prisoners" in northern Sudanese cities. The people are then used as "personal servants." CSI has stepped on political toes, among them UNICEF, which has criticized CSI for its activities. Christian religious activists maintain that the UN is heavily influenced by Islamic nations and ignores the terrible state of black Africans. The Sudan Islamic government in Khartoum argues that these NGOs are "pro-Western organizations" and anti-Islamic. What really bothers the Sudanese government is that organizations like CSI have media access and Khartoum cannot hide the fact that slaving continues -- now into the 21st century. Other critics point out that CSI and similar organizations may be unintentionally providing economic impetus to the slave trade-- at least in parts of Sudan. By paying for slaves (in some cases in hard currency), they establish another "slave market." The NGOs counter that better their hard currency than another black African enslaved in Khartoum. (Austin Bay)
December 26; Egypt and Libya announced continued support for Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, despite his move last Saturday to suspend the Sudanese parliament. Egyptian President Mubarak and Libyan leader Gadhafy called upon Bashir to "safeguard the unity of Sudan" and denounced "foreign involvement" in the internal affairs of Sudan. (These statements supported Bashir's war against the SPLA rebels in the south and condemned the US for deciding to assist in delivering relief supplies to SPLA-held areas.) The Arab League has also supported him. Bashir is involved in a desperate power struggle with Hassan al-Turabi, who is speaker of parliament and a renowned Islamic fundamentalist scholar. Egypt and Libya have opposed Islamic fundamentalism as a threat to their own governments. --Stephen V Cole
December 22; The Khartoum government said it is willing to meet the SPLA in Nairobi on January 15th for exploratory peace discussions.
Sudan and Uganda signed a treaty on 8 Dec pledging not to use military action to settle their disputes and to disarm rebel and terrorist organizations operating from their territory against the other government. This would require Uganda to dismantle SPLA rebel bases in that country which support the Civil War in Sudan. --Stephen V Cole