Sudan: September 6, 2002


: Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir told hundreds of supporters on 5 September that the Khartoum government would press ahead with "jihad" in the South until peace was achieved (even though the government tries to play down the religious aspect of the war). A general mobilization has been ordered: local sources told the Catholic news agency MISNA that a recruitment campaign is underway in the Sudanese capital, where authorities are now recruiting university and high school students. Khartoum has already deployed regular troops accompanied by Popular Defence fighters to the Juba area (over 1,200 km South of the capital).

The government suspended peace talks in Kenya with the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) on 2 September, after the rebel group captured the strategic town of Torit. The government candidly noted that their troops had managed to drive back two waves of rebel assaults on the town, destroying five tanks and killing many rebels but in the face of a third wave of 9,000 rebel fighters backed by heavy weapons, they had to withdrawal from Torit.

On the 3rd, Sudanese First Vice-President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha said that the government would not return to peace talks with the rebels without a commitment to suspend military action first. One unnamed Western diplomat said contacts were still going on between the two sides which looked promising, which just proves that "denial isn't just a river in the Sudan". - Adam Geibel




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