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Garang.780 In the August-September 2001 period, Cmdrs. Peter Gatdet (SPLA) and Peter Paar (SPDF) ceased their fourteen-month hostilities by oral agreement. The agreement was finalized in writing during January 26February 1, 2002 in Koch, Western Upper Nile/Unity State. This covenant, the product of the “people of Liech,” although it was not clear that any communities were represented there, declared amnesty for all offenses against people and property committeed during the intense conflict between the two commanders, including the agreement that property looted and cattle raided were not to be claimed back. This covenant, reached under the auspices of the New Sudan Council of Churches, did not mention abducted women and children.781 On January 6, 2002, the talks between the SPLM/A and SPDF at the top level were consummated and John Garang of the SPLM/A and Riek Machar of the SPDF publicly signed the Nairobi Declaration of Unity, thereby merging the two forces. This new formation retained the name of SPLM/A. It retained the key goal of self-determination for the people of southern Sudan and, toward this objective, intended 779 SPDF press release, “SPDF Peace Committee Clarifies the Declaration of Unity Between the SPLA and the SPDF,” Nairobi, dated May 28, 2001. http://www.usinternet.com/users/helpssudan/SPDFpress33.jpg (accessed May 30, 2001). The signatories were Dr. Costello Garang Riny, Simon Kun Pouc (of RASS), Cmdr.
780 “Sudan: Rebel official comments on merger between two southern groups,” Al Rai al A’am web site, in Arabic, Khartoum, May 30, 2001, as translated in BBC Monitoring Service, May 30, 2001.
781 “Western Upper Nile Koch Peace Covenant,” Upper Nile People to People Peace and Reconciliation Conference, Koch, Western Upper Nile/Unity State, January 26-February 1, 2002.
to “conduct immediate military operations against forces of the NIF regime, as well as to intensify all other forms of struggle.”782 In contrast to the attempt at unity of May 2001, this merger appeared genuine. Garang and Riek met again on February 5 and 7, 2002, and signed another document with multiple provisions,783 including creation of a Special Joint Committee to integrate the forces in command, rank, and organization. It also provided for the cooperation of civilian and relief agencies associated with the two movements. On February 8, the two commanders instructed their respective units to begin integrating on the ground.
Garang declared that “[t]he way forward is... to defeat the NIF and achieve final victory.”784 These developments represented a clear threat to Khartoum.785 The SPLM/A had already concluded agreements with other opposition groups. On February 16, 2001, the Popular National Congress (PNC), a breakaway faction from the governing National Congress Party led by Islamist ideologue and NIF founder Hassan al Turabi, reached an agreement with the SPLM/A, to the surprise of most observers: the two had long been enemies. Garang, receiving criticism from his own supporters, downplayed the announcement, stating that it was “not an alliance, it’s a dialogue.”786 The agreement resulted in the Khartoum government immediately jailing Dr. Turabi and many of his 782 Nairobi Declaration of Unity, as reproduced in “The SPLM/A and SPDF Have Merged into one Movement,” South Sudan Post (Nairobi), January 2002, p. 6.
783 “Consolidating Unity of the Movement,” South Sudan Post (Nairobi), February 2002, pp.4-5.
785 Ten months later, however, the integration of the two forces was still lagging behind as SPLM/A peace talks with the government proceeded apace. After Riek Machar met in 2002 with Sudanese President Omar El Bashir, suddenly the SPLM/A moved to consolidate the integration of the SPDF into the SPLM/A. “Sudan: President discusses peace with southern rebel leaders in Kenya,” Republic of Sudan Radio, Omdurman, in Arabic, October 16, 2002, as translated in BBC Monitoring Service, October 16, 2002;
“Approval of Special Joint Committee Recommendations,” signed by Dr. John Garang de Mabior and Dr. Riek Machar TenyDhurgon, Nairobi, October 23, 2002.
786 John Garang, as quoted in “Making Politics and War Together, “ Africa Confidential (London), March 8, 2002, p. 5.
PNC officials. He remains in prolonged arbitrary detention with no charges against him as of the writing of this report.
On March 1, 2002 the predominantly northern Sudan Alliance Forces (SAF), an NDA member, announced its merger with the SPLM/A.787 This brought to the SPLM/A the infusion of a small but experienced number of northern politicians and army officers whose platform supported a referendum for southern independence.
In early February 2002, however, Cmdr. Tito Biel, rejecting the Garang-Machar unity agreement of January 6 and Riek Machar’s alleged failure to consult with the SPDF on it, defected from Riek Machar’s forces and rejoined the Sudanese government.788 His former oppponent Peter Gatdet joined him in late 2002.
U.S. Peace Initiative Under Senator Danforth, September 2001-May 2002 On September 6, 2001, U.S. President George W. Bush appointed John Danforth, a former senator, as his special envoy for peace in Sudan. Danforth was to report to the president as to whether the two main parties to Sudan's lengthy civil war—the Sudanese government and the SPLM/A—were ready for peace negotiations. Senator Danforth and his team of U.S. State Department and U.S. AID officials visited Sudan and the region in November 2001 and again in January 2002; team members made additional visits during this period.
787 Sudan Alliance Forces (SAF) Political Department press release, “The Historic Unification of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the Sudan Alliance Force (SAF),” Asmara, Eritrea, March 15, 2002.
788 Summary of Tito Biel’s press briefing aired on Sudan TV on February 2, 2002. Email from viewer, February 5, 2002. This confirmed a report by Nuer activists who saw Cmdr. Tito Biel Chuor and Capt. Mark Liah, also of Riek Machar’s forces, being smuggled out of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi on a Sudan Airways plane. Western Upper Nile Information Desk – South Sudan, topic no. 002/Jan/001/2002, “Senior SPDF Commander Tito Biel Chuor and Captain Marko Liah defected to Khartoum,” Nairobi, January 30, 2002.
282Oil Fuels the War
Senator Danforth proposed four tests for the two main parties to the conflict to prove their commitment to a peace process: (1) a humanitarian ceasefire agreement in the Nuba Mountains, with international monitors; (2) an agreement by both sides not to target civilians or civilian objects in the war in the south; (3) the appointment of an international “eminent persons” commission to investigate and make recommendations for practical solutions to the problem of slavery/abductions in Sudan; and (4) respect for “zones of tranquility” in the conflict areas, enabling humanitarian agencies to carry out polio immunizations and campaigns against other diseases.789 Although fighting in Block 5A and continued government aerial bombardment of civilians throughout the south threatened to derail the talks, by late March 2002 both the government of Sudan and the SPLM/A had agreed to the four points. In particular, the Nuba Mountains ceasefire agreement was signed by both parties January 19, 2002, in Switzerland, and the agreement not to attack or target civilians or civilian objects was signed March 10 by the government and March 25 by the SPLM/A.
Senator Danforth’s report to President Bush was made public on May 10, 2002. It summarized the state of compliance by the parties with the four agreements and concluded that the parties had shown sufficient commitment to finding a negotiated end to the war that the U.S. should continue its engagement.
This led directly to increased U.S. engagement as mediator, forming a “troika” with its allies the United Kingdom and Norway, in the peace negotiations starting in June 2002 in Machakos, Kenya. Those talks produced a protocol on July 20, 2002, that sought to dispose of the troublesome issues of selfdetermination for the south and the relationship between religion and the state. The second round of Machakos negotiations, stalled for weeks by what appeared to be power struggles within the ruling party in Khartoum and the SPLA capture of Torit, started in October 2002. As of the date of finalizing this report, the negotiations are on-going.
789 See “The United States: Diplomacy Revived.”; Human Rights Watch backgrounder on the Danforth report, at http://hrw.org/backgrounder/africa/danforth-bck0515.htm (accessed November 3, 2002).
Military DevelopmentsBlocks 1, 2, and 4: GNPOC The SPLM/A continued to announce military successes within the GNPOC consortium’s territory, in 2001 scoring more attacks than in previous years. The first attack, according to Cmdr. Peter Gatdet, was on an exploratory drilling rig, the Tamur rig, in Block 4 on January 5, 2001, operated by CNPC. He claimed that the rig was located near Rumrum, and was abandoned after the attack because the rebels destroyed the containers that were used to house company employees.790 The Tamur rig was described as thirty kilometers north of the Bahr el Arab River (south of the river being the “fief” of Peter Gatdet), and in the highest risk location operated by GNPOC. It was assigned 400 Sudanese army troops with “technicals” to guard it. After the attack, more drilling was done, but the well was dry.791 Panaru, an area of Ruweng County in the Dinka enclave in Block 1, continued to be a target for the Sudanese army in 2001. Dinka chief Simon Thor from Panaru told a U.N. investigator that Panaru had been attacked by the Sudanese army and bombed at the end of January 2001, and again in the next few days.792 This was not the first attack on Panaru; an earlier attack drove these Dinka to Nimne (Block 5A).
Most moved back to Panaru in July 2000 because of the fighting that broke out then in Nimne between Gatdet/SPLA and Paar/SPDF/government forces.
The situation in Panaru then became insecure again. The chief said that the Chinese were building a road near Panaru and the army had installed a generator in the location. He reported that nearby was an oil 790 Cmdr. Peter Gatdet, interviewed on April 24, 2001, by John Ryle and Georgette Gagnon, “Report of An Investigation into Oil Development, Conflict and Displacement in Western Upper Nile, Sudan,” London and Toronto, October 15, 2001, p. 27. A report by a Khartoum-based Canadian consular officer, Nicholas Coghlan, confirmed that the location had been attacked by Cmdr. Peter Gatdet. Ibid.
791 Quoted in “Report of an Investigation into Oil Development,” p. 29.
792 People in Nimne reported that they heard bombing from that location in late January. Email, OLS worker to Human Rights Watch, February 9, 2001 (anonymity requested).
installation and drilling was proceeding, with six wells.793 The erosion of the population of Ruweng County by military means continued.
The SPLM/A claimed that it captured three wells near Bentiu on January 26, 2001. 794 Observers noted that SPLM/A claims did not always reflect reality on the ground: for no apparent reason the SPLM/A did not claim credit for each one of its attacks on oil infrastructure, while at times exaggerating the achievements of failed forrays.
SPLA Cmdr. Peter Gatdet said that his forces succeeded in closing down the Kaikang oilfield (which spans Alor Dinka and Leek and Bul Nuer territory north of Mayom, in Block 4) on February 25, 2001, where he claimed a Norwegian company was operating. Cmdr. Peter Gatdet’s forces also reportedly seized the oilfield in Boaw (Block 5A), thirty kilometers from Buoth (then Peter Gatdet’s headquarters, in Jagei territory) in March 2001. These were operations where the rebels attacked and withdrew, not trying to hold territory.795 Then, during the rainy season (May-November), SPLA attacks on oil-related targets in the GNPOC concession seemed to pick up. The SPLA claimed to have “annihilated” a military convoy in June 2001 escorting oil industry equipment, at a location between Wangkei and Mayom in Block 4. The SPLA claimed it fought for five hours and inflicted 244 casualties on government forces, and destroyed significant military and construction equipment, including four bulldozers, five motor graders, forty-six trucks, two water tankers mounted on trucks, twenty-one Land Cruiser and Nissan pickups belonging to the oil company, and other equipment.796 The government denied the attack.
794 “Sudanese rebels claim attack on oil regions of Sudan, killing dozens,” AFP, Cairo, January 27, 2001.
795 Yusuf Khazin, “Southern Sudan rebel commander comments on oilfield attacks, uranium extraction,” location “at a forward position on the front line close to the oilfields in the Bentiu area,” Al-Hayat (London), July 31, 2001.
796 SPLM/A press release, “SPLA Forces Destroy a Big Enemy Convoy in Oilfields,” Nairobi, June 12, 2001.
285Human Rights Watch