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A prince called Garang? (Around Africa - Sudan).

The Sudanese People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), the rebel movement at war with the Sudanese government for the past 18 years, has recently unveiled its post-war development programme in the territory it controls. The Movement, led by Dr. John Garang, has established a new developmental organ called the Natural-Resources Management Committee (NRMC) that will steadily implement development programmes after the war.

The NRMC is headed by Dr. John Ariki, 39, a geologist. He told New African that the NRMC "is a purely technical committee that will look into the natural resources of southern Sudan, one of the most under-investigated places in the world due to the war", and make recommendations on how best to use the resources to develop a "New Sudan" -- a term coined by Garang, to describe a post war, all-inclusive, democratic and secular Sudanese state.

"With my four-man team composed of geologists, we will undertake a quantitative survey and geological mapping of what we have, including oil reserves as well as arable land, oil is not the only basis of Sudan's wealth," Ariki said. "Then we will be in a position to advise the SPLA's leadership on where to set its economic goals for a sustainable development of the New Sudan."

Ariki, however, makes no illusions about the difficulty of the task confronting him. With the war still raging, he acknowledges the risks involved but is determined to go ahead with the project, largely financed by "an American NGO" he would not name.

The NRCM initiative also comes at a time when the Sudanese president, Omar Al-Bashir, is changing political course and taking steps to clean up the country's image. Sudan, which was declared a "terrorist state" by the US government in 1995 after the attempt on the life of the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, is bent on ditching its identity as a pariah state.

Last August, diplomatic relations with Uganda, broken since 1994, were reestablished. In September, the UN Security Council lifted sanctions imposed on Khartoum in 1996. And in November, the American peace envoy, John Danforth, arrived in Khartoum to present peace proposals intended to end the 18-year-old war between the SPLA and the central government in Khartoum.

But John Garang has refused to fade away into oblivion in the face of President Bashir's recent vigorous diplomatic campaign aimed at isolating him. A wily operator, Garang has mounted a charm offence of his own to keep the people in the territory he controls firmly on his side. The "prince" of the South, it seems, would not easily be beaten.
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Article Details
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Author:Oryeda, Alfred
Publication:New African
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:6SUDA
Date:Jan 1, 2002
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