May 15, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, head of the National Umma Party (NUP), stood by statements he made this month in which he accused the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) of committing serious abuses in conflict zones such as rape as well as looting and burning villages.
- Al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, head of the National Umma Party, flanked by supporters as he leaves the state prosecutor’s office in Khartoumon 15 May 2014 (ST)
Al-Mahdi appeared today before state security prosecutors to respond to a criminal complaint against him filed by the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) in light of these remarks.
The complaint was filed under articles (62) (66) (69) (159) of the 1991 criminal code regarding publication of items which causes grumbling among regular troops, publishing false news, breach of public peace and defamation.
The RSF militia, which is widely known as the Janjaweed militias, were originally mobilized 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.
Dozens of al-Mahdi’s supporters gathered in front of the prosecutor’s office since early hours of Thursday morning along with activists, lawyers and opposition politicians. The latter included chairman of the National Consensus Forces (NCF) Farouk Abu-Issa and even former NUP Secretary General Ibrahim al-Amin who recently fell out with al-Mahdi and traded public accusations.
The former Prime Minister arrived at the prosecutor’s office amid his supporters’ chants "No more dialogue", "We will not back anyone but al-Sadiq", "With soul and blood we sacrifice ourselves o’ Imam".
Al-Mahdi said in remarks following the questioning that the complaint was brought against him for two possible reasons; One to kill the ongoing national dialogue process and second to silence his voice in order to scare others so that they won’t speak of RSF violations.
He defiantly reiterated his accusations to RSF of violations in Darfur and Kordofan and noted that his remarks were based on factual information he received from sources in the region along with 220 police complaints filed by the locals in the towns of El-Obeid and Abu-Zabad in North Kordofan state.
The opposition leader noted that North Kordofan governor Ahmed Haroun broke down in tears when al-Bidairiya tribal chief told him of RSF abuses.
He said the NISS complaint is a violation of the constitution which limits their mandate to the collection and analysis of information only but they are the ones who admitted to managing the RSF.
Al-Mahdi said that his criticism of those forces came late and recalled that the head of the UN peacekeeping mission in Darfur criticized RSF in tougher terms in the presence of President Omer Hassan al-Bashir recently during a tribal conference in Um-Jaras in Chad.
He said that the NISS "stupidity" made it put itself in a corner and isolated itself from the people.
Later in the day, al-Mahdi’s office dismissed as fabricated a copy of a handwritten pledge attributed to him stating that he will not criticise the armed forces again or affiliated units and denying remarks made by him against RSF.
Yesterday Sudanese lawmakers devoted most of their session to slam al-Mahdi’s statements with the speaker al-Fatih Izz al-Deen saying that belittling RSF could amount to treason.
Ahmed Ibrahim al-Tahir, former parliament speaker, for his part said that stabbing the armed forces is a stab to the people, demanding that politicians stand with the nation and that there is no room for opposing the army.
Tahir said that these forces are fighting rebels whom he described as having no morals or religion or patriotism.