August 27, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) has denied participation in the ongoing tribal clashes between Rezeigat and Ma’alia tribes in East Darfur state, accusing “rebel pockets” of spreading rumors of its involvement in the bloody conflict.
- Spokesperson for the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) Colonel al-Sawarmi Khalid Sa’ad (Photo: Ashraf Ahazly/AFP/Getty Images)
Fighting erupted between the Rizeigat and Maalia tribes in East Darfur last week after the theft of livestock belonging to Ma’alia in Abu Rakubah area leaving 200 dead and hundreds wounded from both sides.
SAF spokesperson, al-Sawarmi Khaled Saad, told the government-sponsored Sudan Media Center (SMC) website on Wednesday that SAF’s victories in all battlefronts were driven by its national creed, accusing rebel groups of inciting and supporting tribal feuds.
He stressed SAF’s support for any official or popular efforts to stop the bloodshed, pointing that SAF since Sudan’s independence stayed away from tribal conflicts.
The Rizeigat attacked the area of Um-Rakoba inhabited by Maalia several times last week. The genesis of the conflict between the two tribes from last week was a dispute over land ownership claimed by both tribes.
Battles between the two tribes intensified in recent years following oil discovery in Ma’alia areas.
The Ma’alia accused Rizeigat of using government military vehicles in the fighting, and an eyewitness told Sudan Tribune that three four-wheel-drive vehicles carrying military licence plates were destroyed.
Last week, the head of the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) in East Darfur state, Hussein al-Safi held ministers of defence and interior responsible for the involvement of the Rizeigat affiliates in the Sudanese army and police in the clashes and the use of government’s weapons and vehicles which multiplied the number of victims.
But the The interior minister, Ismat Abdel-Mageed, denied involvement of any government troops in the tribal clashes.
Last Sunday, mainly Ma’alia students demonstrated in Khartoum in front of the parliament in protest of what they called repeated Rezeigat attacks. They waved banners calling on the government to withdraw arms and heavy equipments from the Rizeigat.
The head of the parliamentary subcommittee on Labor, al-Hadi Mohammed Ali, who addressed the demonstrators, promised to summons the interior minister to probe the events.
The reconciliation conference, which was held between the two tribes in West Kordofan state capital city of al-Foula last month had failed, prompting the presidency to summons East Darfur governor and deputy tribal chiefs to seek a truce.
The state is witnessing a constitutional vacuum for more than a year after the failure of the governor to form his government because of tribal conflicts.
In a separate context, al-Sawarmi refuted what he called “misleading rumours” spread by rebels in South Kordofan that regular forces looted people’s property in the villages of Al-Atmoor, Troji and al-Tais, saying the reality of the rebels’ defeat in the mentioned villages belies these rumours.
He underscored that SAF as a national force is founded upon a conviction which appreciates the value of nationalism known to every Sudanese citizen unlike the rebel groups which support and fuel regional and tribal feuds.
The Sudanese army and its militias intensified attacks on the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) rebels in South Kordofan in a large counterinsurgency campaign called “Decisive Summer”.
The border states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile state have been the scene of violent conflict since 2011 when the SPLM-N launched an insurgency against the Khartoum regime.