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
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
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
"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
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
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
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
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
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
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
January 1990 The SPLA shells
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
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
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.