Southern Militias Disarmed in Khartoum
Pursuant to the Peace Agreement, former rebels were permitted to retain their weapons. There were reports that the Sudan army felt that the government made a mistake to allow the rebels to keep their arms, citing the defection of Kerubino and his simultaneous attack on Wau as an example.176 The SSDF, however, did not envision integration into the Sudan army until after the referendum on self-determination was held and separation turned down, an event at least four years in the future. In the event of separation the SSDF saw itself as the army of the new state.177
Relations between the SSDF and the government army were none too good. Riek Machar, as the commander of the SSDF, complained to President Bashir in mid-1998 that he heard reports that the
Sudan army is totally opposed to the provision of the Khartoum Peace Agreement which allows for the formation of a military force in the South, the SSDF. The Army=s rejection of the SSDF is very evident from some of the issues we have raised above [the uninvestigated massacre of thirteen southerners in Aweil by government soldiers, and the arming of Paulino in Western Upper Nile by the army]. This is also clear from the repeated refusal by the Army to supply the SSDF with ammunition, weapons, uniforms, and other military materials to the degree that the SSDF has become unable to maintain security and stability or protect the peace agreement.178
The southern ex-rebel militias in Khartoum were a demonstrable wild card. More than once they fought among each other. Following a murky February 1998 incident in Khartoum in which two SSDF soldiers were killed, allegedly by soldiers loyal to Kerubino (who had defected back to the SPLA just weeks before the incident), Riek Machar ordered the rebel factions in and around Khartoum to hand over their arms to the SSDF.179
It appears that this was not done, but that the SSDF made attempts to disarm these armed militiamen. In June 1998, a shootout between the SSDF and the Paulino faction in Al Jiraif neighborhood in the capital left two southerners dead. Although they had been fighting in Western Upper Nile for months, this was their first clash in the capital.180 Months later, an SSDF spokesperson said that an SSDF military court would try SSDF members arrested for their participation in this fighting.181
In June 1998, two ex-rebel soldiers were killed and three injured in an attack on an SSDF rest house in Khartoum in unclear circumstances.182 SSDF Deputy Chief of Staff Peter Bol said that they were shot resisting disarmament. The objects of attack may have been forces of Lawrence Lual Lual, head of the Bahr El Ghazal contingent of SSDF since Kerubino=s defection. He condemned the killing and asked that the captain who ordered the attack be disciplined.183
On another occasion, the army had to be called in to break up a fight between armed men of the SSDF and Paulino=s faction at a wedding in August 1998 in Omdurman. Several police officers were injured and a police station was burned down. Khartoum residents were said to be nervous about the presence of so many armed (southern) militia in Khartoum.184
It was announced in September that the pro-government southern militias would move their military headquarters from Khartoum to Juba in October. All the guesthouses for SSDF troops in Khartoum had been evacuated except one for wounded fighters in Omdurman, SSDF Deputy Chief of Staff Peter Bol said.185 That same month, Riek announced that the government was going to form a joint committee of SSDF and the government army, with each side to appoint twenty representatives, to provide SSDF with military suppliesCand to intervene to settle differences between the southern factions that signed the Peace Agreement.186
Apparently not all the SSDF forces left the Khartoum area. On October 1998, the SSDF said a group of thirty-eight of Paulino=s forces opened fire on an SSDF camp in the Khartoum suburb of Kalakala. The 450 men in the camp were unarmed (aside from a guard at the gate) and allegedly were beaten with clubs by Paulino=s men. Paulino strongly denied any involvement by his men in the attack, blaming SSDF internal differences within Riek=s group.187
Sudanese army and police, uniformed and plainclothes, launched a three day operation to disarm guards of leaders of southern rebel movements, starting on November 19, 1998.188 The government claimed that the leaders had notice of this move, but the leaders protested that they had no notice.189
Two battalions of soldiers with tanks asked to search the house of SSDF leader Riek Machar. The guards refused; Riek was on a visit to Upper Nile state. The soldiers left and later returned, fired two warning shots, then disarmed the guards and searched the house. The police, in riot gear, temporarily cordoned off one of the main streets in Khartoum where Riek=s house was located, causing a panic.190 Another report said that two of Riek=s bodyguards were injured by the army=s first attempt to take his house. Riek cut his trip short and returned to Khartoum to discuss the incident.191
Other southern militia leaders whose houses were targeted included Lam Akol, minister of transportation, whose bodyguards dug in to resist the search of the residence; Lawrence Lual Lual, whose house was searched at gunpoint; and Kwac Makuei.192 Also raided were the houses of Paulino Matiep and Ismail Kony.193 Pro-government newspapers said the army confiscated heavy weapons, long-range artillery launchers, radio communication sets, and military uniforms. The government issued orders to arrest any person wearing uniforms belonging to the former southern rebels, although people could still be seen on the streets in those uniforms.194
The government said that it took this action to stabilize the security situation in Khartoum, but some merchants complained that unidentified soldiers (perhaps government soldiers) looted their shops at gunpoint.195 The SPLA shortly thereafter invited its former allies who defected to the government to rejoin the fight against the government, calling the raids a nail in the coffin of the Peace Agreement.196
Five leaders of southern pro-government armed factions, including Transport Minister Lam Akol and Animal Resources Minister Joseph Malwal, issued a public statement condemning the government for seizing weapons from their homes in raids. AThis behaviour is considered an affront to southerners and a lack of confidence in them. We would like to register our unreserved condemnation of this irresponsible behaviour.@197
Riek Machar also denounced the disarmament raids. A>It was absolutely wrong,=@ he said. He pointed out that those who were disarmed were bodyguards of ministers and commanders who were not ever involved in any incident that endangered residents of Khartoum. He maintained that only Paulino=s militia should have been disarmed.198
176 AFormer Sudanese rebel commander justifies deaths of two of men,@ DPA, Khartoum, June 26, 1998.
177 "Sudan militia commanders to move to Juba,@ Reuters, Khartoum, September 3, 1998.
178 Letter, Riek to Bashir, Appendix F.
179 ASudan=s former rebels told to hand over arms,@ Reuters, Khartoum, February 18, 1998.
180 ASudan troops halt militia clash in Khartoum,@ Reuters, Khartoum, August 9, 1998.
181 "Sudan militia commanders to move to Juba,@ Reuters, Khartoum, September 3, 1998.
182 ATwo held for questioning after Sudan slaying,@ AFP, Khartoum, June 25, 1998; ATwo killed in attack on Sudanese faction offices in Khartoum,@ AFP, Khartoum, June 25, 1998.
183 AFormer Sudanese rebel commander justifies deaths of two of men,@ DPA, Khartoum, June 26, 1998.
184 AQuarreling Sudanese militiamen turn on police: report,@ AFP, Khartoum, August 9, 1998.
185 "Sudan militia commanders to move to Juba,@ Reuters, Khartoum, September 3, 1998.
186 "Sudan to set up joint committee of army, rebel defectors,@ AFP, Khartoum, October 28, 1998.
187 "Rift in Sudanese pro-Khartoum faction leads to clash: report,@ AFP, Khartoum, October 22, 1998.
188 "Sudan Disarms Pro-Government Militias in Khartoum,@ Reuters, Khartoum, November 19, 1998; AFormer Guards of Southern Leaders Disarmed in Khartoum,@ PANA, Khartoum, November 22, 1998.
189 APro-Khartoum militias slam Sudan govt arms raid,@ Reuters, Khartoum, November 28, 1998.
190 "Sudan Disarms Pro-Government Militias in Khartoum;@ ASudanese government begins operation to disarm former rebels,@ DPA, Khartoum, November 19, 1998.
191 Nhial Bol, ATension Builds, as Attempts to Disarm Militias Intensify,@ IPS, Khartoum, November 20, 1998.
193 "Sudan Disarms Pro-Government Militias in Khartoum,@ Reuters, Khartoum, November 19, 1998.
194 Nhial Bol, ATension Builds, as Attempts to Disarm Militias Intensify,@ IPS, Khartoum, November 20, 1998.
196 Rosalind Russell, ASudan rebels invite government factions back to fold,@ Reuters, Nairobi, November 20, 1998.
197 "Pro-Khartoum militias slam Sudan govt arms raid.@
198 Alfred Taban, ASudan militia leader condemns disarmament,@ Reuters, Khartoum, December 7, 1998.