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Top government officials request meeting with Darfuri tribal leader

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March 16, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Senior Sudanese officials have made a request to meet the leader of the Darfurian Arab Mahameed clan and MP, Musa Hilal, to convince him to end his undeclared mutiny in North Darfur state and stop bloody attacks carried out by his militias against the army.

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Musa Hilal addresses a crowd of villagers at his north Darfur home area in Mistiriyha, Sudan, May 10, 2005. (Reuters)

Hilal’s forces seized five areas in North Darfur state following clashes against government troops over the last few weeks. The tribal leader is currently living in one of those areas after leaving Khartoum a year earlier.

Despite this, the government has not taken any measure to strip him of his parliamentary immunity or sack him from public office.

The former MP and a close aide to Hilal, Ismail Aghbash, said he received a phone call from Sudan’s information minister, Ahmed Bilal Osman, on Sunday expressing desire of a government delegation which is currently visiting Darfur to meet with the tribal leader within the framework of the comprehensive national dialogue.

The government delegation includes Sudan’s 2nd vice president, Hassabo Abdel-Rahman, and the NCP’s secretary of political communication and investment minister, Mustafa Osman Ismail.

Aghbash said the delegation proposed to meet Hilal in South Darfur state capital city of Nyala or West Darfur state capital city of Al-Geneina, emphasizing they would provide the necessary protection for the tribal leader.

But he said he told the information minister they categorically refuse to meet the government delegation outside Hilal’s current headquarters in the town of Kabkabiya in North Darfur state.

The tribal leader’s aide affirmed their negotiations with the government is contingent upon three items including achieving comprehensive peace in Darfur, approving the democratic transformation, and commitment by the government to control its unbridled militias and agree to a military vision to achieve peace and stability in Darfur.

He asserted that Hilal’s position is currently closer to the rebel groups than the government, saying he sensed those groups are more serious to achieve real stability in the volatile region.

The tribal chief stands accused by many human rights groups of leading a terror campaign against the African tribes in Sudan’s western region of Darfur.

But he has denied any wrongdoing and told Human Rights Watch (HRW) in a videotaped interview in 2005, that he only recruited militias on behalf of Sudan’s central government.

In recent years he started making statements critical of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP), of which he is a member, and calling for deep reforms.

In September 2013, Hilal fiercely attacked senior government officials and in particular the governor of North Darfur state Osman Mohamed Youssef Kibir, accusing him of triggering the bloody tribal clashes between the Beni Hussein and Rezeigat.

(ST)

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