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Vol 38 No 8

Published 11th April 1997


Sudan

The frontlines grow longer

Attacking from the east, the opposition is capturing territory and winning new recruits; and in the south it's threatening Juba

The collapse of the government army's operations against fierce opposition attack in the south and east has thrown the ruling National Islamic Front into confusion. It is no longer able to count on the armed forces' military or political support to shore it up. Opposition gains on both fronts suggest to civilian activists that the time for a 'protected intifadha' (uprising) is drawing nearer. The government response is unconvincing: the titular Head of State, Lieutenant General Omer Hassan Ahmed el Beshir, first told the Sudanese that he would countenance negotiations with the opposition 'only through the barrel of a gun'; then in the wake of massive government losses, he invited exiled Umma Party chief El Sadig el Sadeeg el Mahdi back to Khartoum to negotiate. For several days, government spokesmen denied there was any serious fighting on its southern border with Uganda; then, without explanation, a spokesman announced the 'huge success' of a government counter-offensive in the same area.

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