Sudan: July 16, 2002

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: Sudan has protested the presence of armed SPLA rebels in Kampala and its environs, warning that this could stand in the way of normalizing relations between Uganda and the Sudan. The SPLA staged a two-day event (19 -20 May) to mark the 19th anniversary of its 1983 formation, under the auspices of the Pan-African Movement at Kampala's Pope Paul Memorial Community Center. 

The SPLA claimed to have won an overwhelming victory over two government battalions and their support troops converging close to Lafon. The SPLA told the press on 14 July that at least 800 to 900 men were exterminated during the fighting, which lasted about 90 minutes. The SPLA claimed that the government forces were regrouping in Lafon in order to attack the city of Kapoeta, conquered by the rebels in June. Lafon is about 220 kilometers North of the Kenyan border and 160 kilometers West of Kapoeta. 

The oilfields of the Western Upper Nile earn Khartoum an estimated $1 million a day, which inspires the government to use whatever means necessary to eliminate the threats to their revenue. Human rights activists have accused Sudan of orchestrating a terror campaign in Western Upper Nile, while trying to establish a 'cordon sanitaire' for the international companies operating in the oilfields. In June, helicopter gunships were flying so low in the area around Mankien (12 kilometers from the front line) that they were virtually skimming the tops of the straw huts. 

Nigeria's Ambassador to Sudan Ambassador Usman Bello told a Nigerian journalist that the Sudanese crisis is not a religious one, but then contradicted himself later in the interview. Meanwhile, Nicola Rigby of the Christian Aid NGO aid organization told the BBC that "this isn't war: more like ethnic cleansing or genocide". - Adam Geibel


 

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