21 April 1985 The TMC continues efforts to re-establish and re-invigorate southern political structures. It issues a decree establishing a Transitional Higher Executive Council in southern Sudan. A southerner, Major-General James Loro, is appointed chairman.

22 April 1985 The TMC announces the new cabinet. Dr Gizuli Dafallah is appointed prime minister. Southern politician Samuel Aru Bol becomes deputy premier. The transitional Prime Minister stated that the TMC would be "devoting all its efforts to solving the problem of the South on a democratic basis".

26 April 1985 The transitional government declares a unilateral cease-fire and general amnesty. The SPLA categorically rejects any contact with the new government, stating that the "revolution [would] continue until liberation".

News Article by SUNA, 22 April 1985: Broadcast by Radio SPLA, 29 April 1985

10 May 1985 The National Islamic Front political party is formed by Islamists led by Dr Hassan al-Turabi. It is a successor to the Islamic Charter Front. The NIF is described as "an ideological movement that seeks comprehensive reform of Muslim society for the establishment of a just social order centred on faith. For the NIF, Islam provides a comprehensive belief system that organises an all-encompassing way of life. It delineates a vision of the past and the future, and prescribes all social organisation and norms of daily existence. The relevance of faith is not confined to the arena of individual morality, but is also integral to the conduct of socio-economic and political relationships. This holistic world view negates any separation between religion and politics."

Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, New York, July 1996, p.20

23 May 1985 The transitional government announces the establishment of seven ministries which were to assisted by the Transitional Higher Executive Council in southern Sudan.

26 May 1985 Speaking about the Transitional Military Council, John Garang states: "It is abundantly clear that the junta will neither hand over power to the people nor hold elections."

"Statement by John Garang on 26 and 27 May 1985, on the Second Anniversary of the BOR, Pibor and Fashalla Resistance and Ayod Revolt", Mansour Khalid (Editor), The Call for Democracy in Sudan: John Garang, Kegan Paul International, London, 1992, p.62

27 May 1985 John Garang continues to reject any notion of peace negotiations with the government. Garang states that "there [was] nothing to negotiate about and, even worse, there [was] nobody to negotiate with.Today.I here ring the bell for round two of the popular uprising in the streets of our cities and SPLA's revolutionary armed struggle in the bushes and sands of our great country.As of today I put all SPLA forces on maximum alert, [directing them to] shift to the tactics of classical guerilla warfare." The war intensifies in June and July.

Broadcast by Radio SPLA, 27 May 1985

July 1985 The SPLA opens up a new front in southern Kordofan with an attack on a cattle camp for Baggara Arab nomads close to the north-south internal boundary. The SPLA kills sixty Baggara tribesmen and wounded 82 others. This leads to the arming of tribal militias by both the government and SPLA and a spiral of reprisals and counter-reprisals. The British human rights group African Rights states of the incident: "The war in the Nuba Mountains began in July 1985."

August 1985 The SPLA kills William Abdullah Choul, the leader of the Anya-Nya 2 rebel movement.

February 1986 The International Monetary Fund in effect declares Sudan bankrupt following the government's refusal to accept economic austerity measures.

9 March 1986 The SPLA states that it is willing to enter into a dialogue with the Khartoum government on four conditions. First, any talks have to be about Sudan's problems, and not about the "so-called problem of the South, because we are a national movement". Second, Nimeiri's September laws must be cancelled. Third, a national conference must be held to form an interim government of national unity. The transitional government must agree in advance to resign once any agreement was reached at such a conference. Fourth, that all military defence pacts and other agreements with foreign countries must be cancelled.

Broadcast by Radio SPLA, 9 March 1986

24 March 1986 The SPLA meets with the National Alliance for National Salvation, representing 14 political parties, including the Umma Party, and 22 trades unions. The resultant Koka Dam declaration floats the idea of a national constitutional conference preceded by the lifting of the state of emergency, the repeal of the September 1983 sharia laws, cease-fire and abrogation of Sudan's military pacts.

26 March 1986 In his meeting with the National Alliance, John Garang states: "Brothers, as we have said many times before, we are not secessionists. And if anybody wants to separate even in the North, we will fight him because the Sudan must be one. We will maintain this opinion."

"Statement by John Garang de Mabior at the Opening Session of the Preliminary Dialogue between SPLM/SPLA and the National Alliance for National Salvation, Held at Koka Dam, 20 March 1986", Mansour Khalid (Editor), The Call for Democracy in Sudan: John Garang, Kegan Paul International, London, 1992, p.137

6 April 1986 In a speech John Garang denies that his movement was a threat to Arabism or Islam in Sudan. He declares: "Arabism and Islam are part and parcel of Sudan's reality. That reality is inevitable and it is therefore totally absurd to speak of a threat to Arabism and Islam. It is the SPLM/SPLA's conviction that both Arabism and Islam, among others, are components inextricably woven into the fabric of Sudan's unique and singular identity. They are integral parts of the sum total of our distinct cultural heritage."

Broadcast by Radio SPLA, 6 April 1986

May 1986 The Transitional Military Council keeps its promise that it would stay in office for only one year and hands over to the civilian government elected following multi-party elections in April.

15 May 1986 Sadiq al-Mahdi becomes prime minister of Sudan. He heads a coalition government made up primarily of the Umma Party and the Democratic Unionist Party led by Mohammed Osman al-Mirghani, the spiritual leader of the Khatmiyya, and four southern parties. DUP official al-Sherif Zein al-Abidin al-Hindi becomes deputy prime minister. The NIF win 51 parliamentary seats, including 23 of the 25 "graduates" seats, as well as a seat in Juba. The SPLA had called for a total boycott of the elections. Because of security considerations elections in 37 constituencies were postponed. A ministry of peace and constitutional affairs is created.

June 1986 Sadiq al-Mahdi defined his position on religious affairs: "The watchword of the free Sudanese people has always been Islam. Even non-Muslim Sudanese hold religious beliefs. All this gives religious affairs in Sudan a distinctive character. We, as Muslims whose duty it is to be interested in Muslim affairs, should also provide the non-Muslim with similar care. For this reason we shall form a Supreme Council for Religious Affairs which will supervise all religious affairs in Sudan."

Al-Mahdi restates a commitment to abolish Nimeiri's September laws and to replace them with "sound Islamic laws based on equity". Al-Mahdi promises with regard to the southern question that the issues would be addressed at a future constitutional conference, with any problems being solved through dialogue. The newly-created ministry of peace and constitutional affairs was to establish contacts with the rebel movement.

31 July 1986 As part of an ongoing peace initiative Sadiq al-Mahdi meets with SPLA leader John Garang. The SPLA wishes to see the Koka Dam declaration elaborated upon and implemented. Sadiq al-Mahdi states that despite an Umma Party presence, the declaration does not hold given that the DUP and NIF have not been included in the process. The prime minister states that the meeting has revitalised the peace process.

16 August 1986 The SPLA shoots down a civilian Sudan Airways aircraft near Malakal, killing sixty passengers and crew. All peace contacts between the government and SPLA are frozen. The SPLA launches a new offensive.

2-5 December 1986 Sudanese church leaders meet with the SPLA in Addis Ababa. The church leaders called upon the rebels to resume dialogue with the government and urged the SPLA to conduct the war more humanely.

January 1987 The National Islamic Front publishes its national charter. This contains proposals concerning the future of southern Sudan. The charter accepts the rights of all citizens, regardless of religion, to hold public office, and called for freedom of conscience and equality before the law. The NIF also states that in a federal system non-Muslim regions would be allowed to opt out of the Islamic legal system. Central government would have a duty to promote balanced regional development.

May 1987 Sadiq al-Mahdi dissolves his coalition government, and forms another, barely changed, administration. Umma and the DUP agree a memorandum which fix the new government's priorities as affirming the application of sharia law to Muslims and consolidating the Islamic banking system. The coalition is criticised for not addressing the civil war, famine and worsening social and economic conditions.

August 1987 The DUP bring down the coalition government because Sadiq al-Mahdi had opposed the appointment of a DUP member to the Supreme Council.

14 October 1987 SPLA leader John Garang states that he is fighting for greater autonomy for all regions of Sudan and for an end to national Islamic laws: "We are fighting a cultural, political and economic war." He states that he wants to put an end to the dominance of the central government by two religiously-based parties, which are in turn dominated by two families, one of them the family of Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi.

"Sudan's Rebel Leader Signals Flexibility in Pursuit of Peace Talks", The Christian Science Monitor, Boston, 14 October 1987

December 1987 The government and SPLA meet for secret peace talks in London. There is no agreement.

January 1988 The government and 17 political parties sign a transitional charter outlining a commitment to multi-party democracy.

April 1988 The Sadiq al-Mahdi government is dissolved following continuing constitutional, economic and military crises. After several days without a government Sadiq al-Mahdi becomes prime minister of a coalition government again on 27 April.

May 1988 A new coalition government is formed by Sadiq al-Mahdi. Coalition members include the Umma, DUP, the National Islamic Front and some southern parties.

June 1988 The government appeals to the United Nations for humanitarian assistance.

October 1988 Sadiq al-Mahdi introduces 'Sudan's Peace Initiative: A Working Paper for Peace'. This outlined the historical background to conflict and peace initiatives. It proposes an immediate conference to discuss a cease-fire, humanitarian aid and arrangements for a national constitutional conference. It also outlines transitional arrangements including amnesty and reconstruction.

October 1988 The United Nations Secretary-General launches appeal for US$ 73 million in relief aid for Sudan.

November 1988 The DUP led by Mohammed Osman al-Mirghani meets with the SPLA in Addis Ababa. They agree that there should be a cease-fire, the state of emergency should be lifted, a national constitutional conference should be held by the end of the year, that Islamic legal punishments in the September 1983 laws should be frozen and that a national preparatory committee be formed.

December 1988 The DUP leaves the coalition government in protest at Sadiq al-Mahdi's failure to endorse its agreement with the SPLA.

1989 In the course of the year the SPLA shell Juba, killing dozens of civilians.

January 1989 The SPLA captured the strategic town of Nasir in Upper Nile region.

1 February 1989 Al-Mahdi announces the formation of a new government, without the DUP. The National Islamic Front is given seven portfolios within the new cabinet. The Umma Party hold eleven. NIF leader Dr al-Turabi becomes deputy prime minister and foreign minister. The rebels seize Torit in eastern Equatoria, as well as towns such as Liria, Farrago and Nimble.

20 February 1989 The Sudanese military high command deliver an open memorandum to Sadiq al-Mahdi. Signed by 150 senior officers headed by the Commander-in-Chief General Fathi Ahmed Ali, the memorandum demanded that al-Mahdi either brought the war to an end or provided the military with the support it needed in its war with the SPLA. It also called on the government to address the deepening economic recession.

12 March 1989 The coalition government is dissolved. The war intensifies with rebel activity in southern Kordofan.

25 March 1989 A new government is sworn in. The National Islamic Front refuses to serve in the cabinet. Sadiq al-Mahdi agrees to form a broad-based government which would enter into peace talks with the SPLA.

1 April 1989 The United Nations supervised-Operation Lifeline Sudan is launched to address the humanitarian crisis within southern Sudan. It is an agreement negotiated by the United Nations with the government of Sudan and the SPLA to allow humanitarian assistance to pass through "corridors of tranquillity" to civilians in affected areas.

30 June 1989 The Sadiq al-Mahdi administration is overthrown in a bloodless coup d'etat by army officers. General Omer al-Bashir heads the Revolutionary Command Council for the 'Revolution of National Salvation', made up of fifteen members from across Sudan. The new government sends a letter to SPLA leader John Garang inviting him to participate in the rescue of Sudan by negotiating a peaceful settlement. Garang refuses to receive the letter.

4 July 1989 The Sudanese government declares a month-long cease-fire.

8 July 1989 A new government is formed. Of the 21 cabinet ministers named, 16 are civilians.

25 July 1989 The government extends the cease-fire by another month.

14 August 1989 John Garang vigorously criticises the new government, claiming that it had a "distorted perception" of the civil war. He stated that the new government lacks "any new radical program" that could improve the chances of peace. He dismisses the government's offer to hold a referendum on the Sharia law issue: "It is blasphemous to say that God's laws should be judged by human beings." He called for the establishment of an interim government of national unity free of sectarianism, the establishment of a national army made up of the regular army and SPLA, the convening of a national constitutional conference and the holding of free elections. Garang states that if this programme is not agreed to by the government he would be obliged to mount a general strike and uprising and remove the government from office and have the SPLA implement the programme.

Broadcast by Radio SPLA, 14-15 August 1989

18-22 August 1989 Peace talks between the government and SPLA, the first to take place between the rebels and a Sudanese government since the war began in June 1983, stall over the issue of sharia law when the government announces a national referendum on the issue. The SPLA also turn down the government offer of a cease-fire. The government nevertheless extends its cease-fire for another month.

9 September 1989 The government convenes 'The National Dialogue Conference on the Issues of Peace' in Khartoum. This meets until 10 October. It is chaired by RCC member Mohammed al-Amin Khalifa and Joseph Lagu, a former Sudanese vice-president, and leader of the southern Sudanese rebels in the first phase of the civil war. The conference presents a peace plan based on the decentralisation of power and resources, and the protection of cultural diversity. A federal system is deemed to be "the best alternative for government in Sudan". The government adopts this plan as a national programme for negotiations with the SPLA. John Garang refuses any further negotiations in Khartoum.

30 September 1989 The government extends the cease-fire for another month.

21 October 1989 The government announces the extension of the cease-fire for another month. The cease-fire is broken by the SPLA on the same day with attacks in the Kurmuk area, near the Ethiopian border. The rebels subsequently occupy the town of Kurmuk.

21 October 1989 The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is formed in Egypt. It is made up of representatives of the Umma, DUP and nine other political parties and trade unions. The charter which is drawn up calls for "general political strike, civil disobedience and well protected popular insurrection". Tasks for the period following the overthrow of the government are to include the formation of a transitional government, repeal of Islamist laws and guarantees of human rights.

30 November 1989 Talks facilitated by former United States President Jimmy Carter are held in Nairobi between a government delegation headed by Mohammed al-Amin Khalifa and an SPLA delegation led by Dr Lam Akol. It was agreed that a possible route to peace might be the formation of a broad-based national government, the holding of a constitutional conference and a national referendum to ratify the resulting constitution. The SPLA refused to accept Carter as a mediator.

December 1990 Former US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Herman Cohen puts forward a peace proposal; which includes separation of government and rebel forces and declaring Juba city a demilitarised zone. The Sudanese government does not accept the initiative because it infringes both the sovereignty and security of the country.

January 1990 The SPLA shells Juba.

March 1990 At a meeting at the Namibian Independence celebration President Ibrahim Babangida of Nigeria meets Sudanese President Omer Hassan al-Bashir and suggests an initiative to host Sudanese peace negotiations. After a series of further contacts the Nigerian government sets an agenda and fixes a date for the commencement of talks in Abuja. This is the first time that the rebel movement agrees to enter direct talks with the Sudanese government without prior conditions.

March 1990 Operation Lifeline Sudan 2 is launched in Sudan.

December 1990 President Daniel Arap Moi of Kenya calls a meeting between Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir and SPLA leader John Garang. Bashir responds by travelling to Kenya where he spends two days. Garang also travels to Nairobi but refuses to meet President Bashir.

5 January 1991 Sudanese President Omer Hassan al-Bashir passes a decree establishing a federal system of nine states in Sudan as part of an effort to end the civil war. These are in turn sub-divided into 66 provinces and 281 local government areas. These new states are to be responsible for local administration and some tax collection.

"Sudan Decrees Federation to End Civil War", The Times (London), 6 February 1991

5 January 1991 SPLA leader John Garang rejects the federal system of government announced by President al-Bashir and calls on the army to overthrow the government. He states: "We reject al-Bashir's federalism because it is based on sectarianism. It is intended to divert public attention from the issue of peace."

"Sudanese Rebels Call on Army to Revolt", The Times (London), 5 January 1991

1 February 1991 A new legal code is introduced, amending sharia law and specifically exempting southern Sudanese states from the application of Islamic law.

April-May 1991 The Sudanese government convened a national conference to discuss Sudan's political future.

21 May 1991 The Mengistu regime in Ethiopia is overthrown. The SPLA loses its main supporter. SPLA forces fight to defend the Mengistu government.

June 1991 The government officially proposed that President Babangida of Nigeria act as a mediator within the Sudanese conflict. The SPLA supports this call.

August 1991 The US offers to mediate in the Sudanese civil war. US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Herman Cohen meets with SPLA leader John Garang in America. It is reported that Garang and the SPLA are unhappy with a proposed American peace plan, which they consider amounts to a secession for the south. New Africa reports Garang's views as follows: "Garang denies there are separatist feelings in his movement. He told journalists in London that the SPLA would not be tempted by what had happened in northern Somalia and Eritrea into secession." They further quote Garang on the issue: "We spent the first six months in 1983 arguing amongst ourselves whether to separate the south or liberate the whole of Sudan.We shed a lot of blood for it and in the end the unionists prevailed."

"Sudan: Garang Fights On", New Africa, August 1991, p. 32

August 1991 The Sudan People's Liberation Army fragments following growing criticism of John Garang. Three SPLA field commanders, Dr Riek Machar, Dr Lam Akol and Gordon Kong, based in Nasir, issue a statement calling for the removal of Garang from the leadership of the SPLA. They also accused Garang of being a "dictatorial" and "autocratic" leader who has "humiliated and degraded people and turned a popular struggle into wardrooms and a reign of terror". They also issue a policy statement calling for an end to the war, immediate negotiations for the separation of the south, the implementation of democracy within the liberation movement and more emphasis on relief efforts. Machar, Akol and Kong call for "strict adherence to the respect of human rights and the rule of law". Dr Machar and Dr Akol come to head a grouping known as SPLA-Nasir. Garang then renamed what remained of the SPLA as SPLA-Torit and then SPLA-Mainstream. Further dissatisfaction with Garang led to an additional fragmentation of what remained of his SPLA grouping when Garang's deputy, William Nyoun, left and formed another faction called SPLA-Unity. Riek Machar's SPLA-Nasir and Nyoun's Unity groups then merged in March 1993 to form SPLA-United. SPLA-United then itself divided. Dr Machar came to head the South Sudan Independence Movement (SSIM) and Dr Akol continued as the chairman of SPLA-United.

November 1991 There is fierce fighting between the different factions of the SPLA. Several thousand civilians are reported to have been killed. The SPLA shells Juba, killing seventy civilians.

3 February 1992 The government announces austerity measures and economic reforms. These include devaluation of the currency, privatisation and cuts in commodity subsidies.

13 February 1992 A 300-member Transitional National Assembly is appointed and met for the first time on 24 February. Mohammed al-Amin Khalifa serves as the first speaker.

26 May-4 June 1992 The first Abuja peace talks are held between the government and the SPLA under the auspices of President Ibrahim Babangida of Nigeria. Both parties recognise that Sudan is a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-religious country and agree to work towards a peaceful resolution of the Sudanese conflict. The two sides agree to meet again in Nigeria. Mohammed Al-Amin Khalifa, leader of the Sudanese delegation, states: "It was the first serious meeting between the warring parties in the country."

"Abuja: The Search for Peace Continues", Sudanow (Khartoum), July 1992

June 1992 The SPLA besiege Juba. They shell the city, killing 200 civilians. There are military attacks inside Juba itself.

June 1992 Chevron ended its 17-year involvement in Sudan. It sells its upstream holding to a Sudanese company, Concord. Concord subsequently sells Chevron concessions to Arakis Energy of Canada.

16 July 1992 Humanitarian shipments to Juba are suspended as the result of SPLA threats.

12 August 1992 Oxfam, Christian Aid, the Catholic Fund for Overseas Development and Norwegian Christian Aid report that an estimated 300,000 people in Juba were facing "imminent starvation" if corridors for relief aid were not agreed.

17 August 1992 The SPLA stated that any UN relief workers flying into Juba did so at their own risk.

24 August 1992 The United Nations halt aid airlifts into Juba after the SPLA fired on a relief airplane as it unloaded food. Aid flights recommence the following day.

7 September 1992 The United Nations halt aid airlifts into Juba for the third time in two weeks because of SPLA attacks. An agreement is subsequently arrived at between the United Nations, the government and SPLA whereby humanitarian aid is to be flown into 20 locations in southern Sudan: Juba was not included.

30 September 1992 The United Nations suspend relief operations in southern Sudan after three UN aid workers and a Norwegian journalist were killed by the SPLA.
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