Second man charged in U.S. embassy attack
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From the CIA
Key facts about SudanKHARTOUM (Reuters) - These are the key facts about Sudan:
POPULATION: 26 million (1993 census), mainly Arab and Nubian in the north and Nilotic in the south. About 70 percent are Moslem and animists make up about 25 percent. The Christians make up about five percent and are concentrated in the south.
AREA: 2.5 million sq km (967,500 sq miles). Africa's largest country in area, Sudan straddles the middle reaches of the Nile. It is bounded by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea, Ethiopia and Eritrea to the east, Kenya, Uganda and Zaire to the south and the Central African Republic, Chad and Libya to the west.
CAPITAL: Khartoum. Population 3.5 million (1993).
ARMED FORCES: According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Sudan has an army of 115,000, including 30,000 conscripts. It is armed with a total of 250 T-54 and T-55 tanks. The air force of 3,000 has at least 50 combat aircraft including MiG-21 and MiG-23 fighters. A navy of 1,500 men based at Port Sudan has three inshore patrol craft and four river patrol boats.
ECONOMY: Sudan, hit by drought, famine, and rebellion in the south, is one of the world's poorest countries. 1995 GDP was under $2 billion (source: Economist Intelligence Unit). Foreign debt is over $16 billion. Sudan just escaped being ousted from the International Monetary Fund last year. It has made substantial progress on economic reforms and expects six percent growth for the next five years.
The IMF has urged Sudan to do more to pay off its arrears to the international lending institution and welcomed a government commitment to pay $21 million of arrears this year. The IMF said in February 1997 it would ask Sudan to leave unless it started paying its bills regularly. The IMF in April said Sudan's economy would grow by 6.5 percent this year, up from 5.5 percent in 1997. It expected inflation to fall to 15 percent, from 32 percent in 1997.
In November, 1997, U.S. President Bill Clinton imposed economic sanctions on Sudan for what the White House said was Sudan's support for terrorism, a charge Khartoum has denied.
Sudan has found modest oil reserves in the south but rebel activity has dented hopes of a petro-dollar bonanza. Exports of cotton and gum arabic provide token sources of hard currency.
MODERN HISTORY: Egypt ruled Sudan from 1821 until the Mahdist revolution in 1885. An independent Mahdist Islamic state survived until 1898, when an Anglo-Egyptian victory at Omdurman established Anglo-Egyptian rule until independence in 1956.
The military under Ibrahim Abbound overthrew a civilian government in 1958. African southerners, mainly Christians and animists, waged a secessionist bush war against a mostly Arab, Moslem north that claimed a million lives before a 1972 agreement granted the south autonomy.
The architect of that accord was Jaafar Nimeiri, who became president in a bloodless army coup in 1969. In 1983 Nimeiri moved close to the fundamentalist Moslem Brotherhood and imposed strict Sharia (Islamic Law).
Renewed insurrection in the south by the Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA) was fuelled by the adoption of Sharia, the sub-division of the south into three regional administrations and a deteriorating economy.
In April 1985, while in the United States, Nimeiri was overthrown in a bloodless coup and went to Egypt in exile.
A Transitional Military Council led by General Abdul-Rahman Mohamed Hassan Swareddahab, which controlled an interim cabinet of civilians, ruled Sudan for a year.
In April 1986, Sudan held elections to return to civilian rule. About 30 parties took part, with the Umma party of Sadeq al-Mahdi emerging as the largest.
A national unity government was formed with Mahdi, a direct descendant of the founder of the 19th-century Mahdist state, as Prime Minister.
On June 30 1989 Mahdi's civilian government was toppled in a coup which placed Lieutanant-General Omar Hassan al-Bashir as the head of a military junta.
Influential Islamist ideologue Hassan al-Turabi, briefly imprisoned after the coup, soon emerged as a powerful figure despite holding no official position in Bashir's government.
Turabi's fundamentalist brand of Islam and Sudan's perceived support for Iraq in the 1990-91 Gulf War earned the country ever-increasing isolation.
The United States and Sudan's northern neighbour Egypt, which blames Khartoum for the failed 1995 assassination attempt on President Hosni Mubarak in Addis Ababa, accused Sudan of training Moslem militants in military camps around the country.
Sudan has accused at three of its neighbours, Erirea, Uganda and Ethiopia, of launching cross-border raids in support of the SPLA, which has waged a 15-year insurrection costing more than 1.2 million lives.
Sudan's Cairo-based political exiles have hoped for years to exploit the economic plight of their country and coordinate sporadic anti-government protests into a nationwide uprising.
In April, 1996, former rebel groups signed a peace accord with the Khartoum government and formed a council intended to usher in a transitional council for the south.
But the main rebel group the SPLA rejected the accord and vowed to continue fighting. In early 1997, the National Democratic Alliance umbrella group of opposition forces joined rebel groups in the north and east with the SPLA to fight.
Peace talks resumed between the government and SPLA in October, 1997, under the auspices of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a regional grouping of seven states, brokered the third round of talks.
Another round was held in early 1998 and a third round in August collapsed after the Sudan government and the SPLA were unable to reach common ground on several major issues.
The question of state and religion, and the definition of what is South Sudan are the main stumbling block to a referendum on self-determination for the south, to which both sides have agreed in principle. The war pits the mainly Moslem, Arabised north against the mainly black African and Christian or Animist south.
The conflict, worsened by inter-ethnic fighting, has exacerbated a hunger crisis sweeping parts of southern Sudan.
International aid agencies estimate that millions of Sudanese, mainly in the south, are at risk of famine from drought and the effects of the country's devastating war.
© Copyright 1998 Boston Globe Electronic Publishing, Inc.
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