Sudan Threatened with Disaster

A strongman struggles to overcome opponents and lack of resources

When a rising tide of refugees briefly provoked rioting in the city of Port Sudan three years ago, Sudanese President Gaafar Nimeiri came under mounting pressure from some members of his government to close his nation's borders. Nimeiri would have none of it. During a climactic Cabinet meeting on the issue, he interrupted the debate and dramatically invoked the ancient Arab tradition of hospitality toward strangers. Said the President: "They are the guests of Sudan."

To his credit, and possibly to his regret, Nimeiri has stuck by those words ever since. Even as the epic famine sweeping Ethiopia has increased the...

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