May 9, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – A Sudanese official announced on Wednesday that the government has started releasing fund to Darfur Regional Authority (DRA) after its chairman, Tijani el-Sissi, voiced frustration with Khartoum’s slowness in upholding its financial commitments.
- FILE PHOTO – Head of Darfur regional Authority, Tijani el-Sissi, (L) and head of Darfur follow-up office Amin Hassan Omar (R) (REUTERS)
The minister of state at the presidency of the republic, Amin Hassan Omer, revealed that a meeting chaired by first Vice-President Ali Osman Mohammed Taha and the finance minister Ali Mahmoud had formed committees to handle arrangements to secure releasing of fund owed by the government to the DRA as scheduled.
Meanwhile, el-Sissi confirmed that the ministry of finance had indeed begun disbursing some of the DRA’s financial entitlements after months of waiting.
El-Sissi, who was speaking on Wednesday before the council of states, however said that challenges are still standing with regards to repatriation of the IDPs, development programs, and creating an environment conducive for peace.
The DRA was installed under a peace deal signed in mid-July last year between the Sudanese government and the former rebel Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) led by El-Sisis with the aim of putting an end to nine years of unrest in Sudan’s western region.
The Sudanese government has been struggling to meet its financial commitment to the DRA due to the economic difficulties it is facing due to the loss of oil revenues with South Sudan’s secession. Khartoum has also been devoting available funds to finance its army which is fighting rebels in South Kordofan and Blue Nile State.
South Sudan’s brief occupation of disputed oil area of Heglig in July increased Sudan’s spending on military.
Last week, el-Sissi briefed the Sudanese parliament that the finance ministry failed to secure 200 million dollars the government is committed to allocate for the implementation of economic projects and to repatriate IDPs and refugees as well as to hold different initiatives agreed between the parties.
Also last week, President Al-Bashir formed the High Follow-Up Committee for Peace in Darfur (HFCPD) to oversee the implementation of Darfur peace agreement, appointing himself as chairman of the newly-created body.
Amin Hassan Omer further announced that arrangements are underway to hold the first meeting of the 20-member HFCPD within two weeks.
Meanwhile, El-Sissi said in an interview with the London-based AL-Hayat newspaper that Qatar, which hosted the Darfur peace process and pledged 2 billion US dollars for development in the region, had decided to start as of next June the implementation of early repatriation programs at an underestimated cost of 25 million US dollars.
In a related development, El-Sissi condemned the alleged occupation by South Sudan’s army known as SPLA of four areas in South Darfur States.
He said the SPLA recently occupied the areas of Al-Amood Al-Akhdar, Kafan Dabi, Hofrat Al-Nuhas and Safaha areas in South Darfur, accusing Juba of defying the UN Security Council’s resolution that ordered Sudan and South Sudan to withdraw troops from border regions.
“We define those areas as part of Darfur and if their occupation continues, we will have to resist it through all means. This is a legitimate course of action” he told Al-Hayat.
Sudan accuses South Sudan of supporting the Darfur rebel groups that rejected the peace agreement, including the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and two factions of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) led by Abdel Wahid Nur and Manni Arkoi Minnawi.
The SLM Minnawi faction seized on Tuesday control of Gerida town which is 100km south of Nyala, the provincial capital of South Darfur State.
UN reports from Darfur signal the decrease of violence against civilians and fighting between the government and rebels groups who moved their troops to South Kordofan where they fight besides the SPLM-N.
However, the IDPs complain from the lack of humanitarian assistance as the government encourages international donors to invest in development projects stressing the displaced should now quit their camps.