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Sunday, 29 May 2011

Attack on the Sobat River: Oduho Writes to Egyptian Ambassador to Kenya

R.O. Collins reproduces a short extract from his forthcoming book Jonolei: A History of the
Hydro-politics of the Nile describing the attack on Sobat Camp on February 10th, 1984 by the
Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Army (SPLA)

Official Newsletter of the Sudan Studies Society of the United Kingdom,
Number 4 April 1988

On 30th November Joseph Oduho wrote to the Egyptian ambassador to Kenya in which he gave specific reasons for Garang’s decision to have the SPLA terminate the excavation of Jonglei. The abrogation of the Add is Ababa agreement was the cause for the resumption of the civil war, but the stoppage of work on the canal was the result of the unkept promises to the Southern Sudanese, and the failure to install the pipes for drinking and irrigation water led the list.

Work on the canal must remain stopped until these and other grievances - the failure to build schools, dispensaries, and bridges- were satisfied otherwise no work need take place till our control of the Sudan is complete (Joseph Oduho, Chairman of the Political and Foreign Affairs Committee of the SPLA to H.E. Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Kenya, 30th November 1983). On 7th December he prepared a second letter to Chevron, Total Oil Company, and CCI (the French Company responsible for excavating the canal) demanding that CCI cease operations  immediately, assuring the company ‘that it (SPLA/SPLM) had no grudges and had no intentions to renegotiate agreements to replace CCI.

“Although we are aware that your firm was only hired to excavate the canal, you will however realise that there are parts of the agreement that deal with the welfare of the people whose life would be affected by the canal as well as the wildlife of this region of our country.” These issues had not been resolved.

“In the meantime agricultural projects, hospitals, towns and model villages that were to be carried out in the Canal Zone will only remain in the text of the agreement never to be executed after you have completed your works on the canal. You can therefore see our determination to see in to it that the work on the canal stops.” (Joseph Oduho to Chevron, Total, and CCI companies, 7th December 1983).

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