May 14, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF) militia has accused the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) of benefiting from the ongoing war in Darfur, saying it is seeking to prolong the crisis in the restive region.
- Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF) commander Abbas Abdel-Aziz (L) listens to RSF field commander Ahmed Hamdan (R) speaking in a press conference in Khartoum on Wednesday May 14, 2014 (ST)
The RSF commander, Abbas Abdel-Aziz, at a press conference on Wednesday criticized UNAMID’s negative reports accusing his forces of burning villages and raping women, questioning the impact of efforts rendered by UNAMID’s civil and military components to help the people in Darfur.
He noted that UNAMID existence is contingent upon prolonging the war in Darfur.
“The existence of UNAMID is linked to the interests of companies which supply the mission with food and soda from abroad in order to gain billions of US dollars,” RSF commander said.
Abdel-Aziz asserted that UNAMID thinks the war in Darfur won’t come to an end and criticized the joint chief mediator for Darfur, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, saying the latter would never be satisfied with their acts in order to continue receiving his monthly salary.
He stressed that RSF will not pay attention to the campaign directed at them, accusing the Darfuri rebel groups of standing behind it in order to obstruct their military efforts.
“We will proceed on until peace is achieved either by mutual consent or by force”, Abdel-Aziz said.
The RSF were accused by international organisations, internal opposition forces and rebel groups of committing heinous crimes in Darfur and South Kordofan including burning of villages and rape.
Ibn Chambas, in various occasions, directly accused the RSF of burning villages and attacking civilians who fled to UNAMID camps and other displacement camps.
- Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF) commander Abbas Abdel-Aziz (L) and RSF field commander Ahmed Hamdan (R) walking following a press conference in Khartoum May 14, 2014 (ST)
The RSF commander did admit that his forces committed some violations, describing them as “limited and individual”.
He asserted that the RSF has a field trial unit for punishing those who violate the law, saying "we are not angels”.
Abdel-Aziz emphasised that RSF are regular troops which belong technically and administratively to the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS), while they belong to Sudan’s Armed Forces (SAF) with regard to military planning and operations.
He said the majority of the RSF personnel hail from Darfur because they love soldiery.
The RSF field commander, Ahmed Hamdan, for his part, blasted the leader of the opposition National Umma Party (NUP) al-Sadiq al-Mahdi for criticising the RSF, accusing him of seeking to realize his personal interest.
He pointed that Al-Mahdi didn’t utter a word when rebels committed crimes at al-Tiwaisha and other villages, saying the RSF personnel mainly hail from Arab tribes in Darfur. This, he said, should not detract from its professionalism and must not be used as a pretext to accuse it of committing war crimes in Darfur and South Kordofan.
Last week, Al-Mahdi accused the RSF of committing war crimes, rape and looting in villages besides recruiting non-Sudanese nationals and operating beyond the scope of the regular troops.
Hamdan said several states’ governors had previously rejected presence of the RSF in their states, saying the same governors changed their stances following the role played by the RSF in achieving security.
He denied existence of any coordination with the states’ governors except within the framework of the security committees, accusing unnamed media outlets of aligning with the rebel groups.
“Why does the media not reflect acts of killing and burning committed by rebels?” he said.
Hamdan further affirmed the RSF would end rebellion within a brief period of time.
The RSF militia, which is widely known as the Janjaweed militias, were originally mobilised by the Sudanese government to quell the insurgency that broke out in Sudan’s western region of Darfur in 2003.
The militia was activated and restructured again in August last year under the command of NISS to fight rebel groups in Darfur region, South Kordofan and Blue Nile states following joint attacks by Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) rebels in North and South Kordofan in April 2013.