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Sudan’s Bashir accuses Egypt of supporting Darfur rebel attack

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Sudanese soldiers in North Darfur's Wadi Hawar on Egyptian armoured vehicles used by the Darfur rebels in their recent attack in Darfur on 23 May 2017 (ST Photo)
May 23, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir Tuesday has accused Egypt of supporting the armed movements that recently entered Darfur from Libya and South Sudan.

On Friday, fierce clashes erupted in North and East Darfur between government forces and the Sudan Liberation Movement - Minni Minnawi (SLM-MM) and the SLM-Transitional Council, a splinter group from the SLM-Abdel Wahid.

The government says the rebels entered into the region from Libya and South Sudan where Khartoum claims they are based, while the armed movements say the government forces attacked their positions in North Darfur state.

“The army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have seized Egyptian armoured vehicles used by the Darfur rebels in their attack last Friday on the two states,” al-Bashir told a ceremony honouring retired army officers Tuesday in Khartoum.

He pointed out that the rebel forces came from Libya and South Sudan aboard Egyptian armoured vehicles.

The Sudanese President added that Egypt refused to support his country in its long fighting against the insurgency in South Sudan and Darfur, pointing to Sudan’s support for Egypt during its 1967 and 1973 wars against Israel.

“We fought in South Sudan for 20 years and Egypt did not provide us with a single bullet under the pretext that what was happening in Sudan was an internal affair,” he said.

He stressed that the rebel forces entered Sudan within the framework of a larger plot, saying that attackers came from Libya and South Sudan but the army managed to disperse them and destroyed and seized their armoured vehicles.

Since several months Sudanese officials hint that Egypt supports Darfur rebel groups hoping to put pressure on Khartoum to stop its support for the Ethiopian government which constructs a dam on the Blue Nile. Cairo says the Renaissance Dam will reduce the volume of water reaching its growing population.

The Sudanese President further mocked neighbouring countries who support the armed movements, describing the recent fight as “mere training” not actual military operations for the army.

Al-Bashir’s statements come just hours after his envoy for diplomatic contact and negotiation for Darfur Amin Hassan Omer hinted to Egypt’s involvement in the attacks which he said were meant to delay the permanent lift of U.S. sanctions imposed on Sudan.

On Monday, Facebook pages belonging to the Sudanese army and the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) posted photos of armoured vehicles from the recent clashes in Darfur, claiming they are Egyptian vehicles.

It also posted maps showing the entry points of the armed movements from Libya and South Sudan.

The Sudanese government has long accused the Darfur movements of fighting alongside the forces of the Libyan General Khalifa Hafer, which is supported by Egypt.

The hybrid peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) Monday expressed deep concern over the recent clashes in the region, saying “Significant progress has been made on the road towards peace and security in Darfur, and it would be a serious setback to see these gains jeopardised.”

Meanwhile, Sudan’s Vice President Hassabo Mohamed Abdel-Rahman has accused unnamed neighbouring countries of supporting the recent attack of the armed movements in Darfur.

Abdel-Rahman, who addressed student crowd in the River Nile State Tuesday, accused the armed movements of being hypocrites, saying they sat at the negotiations table in Germany while they were preparing to terrorise the innocent people in Darfur.

He praised the victories of the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces against the rebels, saying the doors of the national dialogue would remain open for anyone who wants to join the process.

On 12 April 2016, the Sudanese army declared Darfur a region free of rebellion following the capture of Srounq area, the last SLM-AW led by Abdel-Wahid al-Nour stronghold in Jebel Marra. However, the army continued for several months to carry out attacks on rebel pockets in the mountainous area.

EGYPT DENIES SUPPORTING DARFUR REBELS

In Cairo, the Egyptian foreign ministry has categorically denied in a statement issued on Tuesday its support for the rebel groups in Sudan’s Darfur region.

In a statement released on Tuesday Egypt said it respects Sudan’s sovereignty over its territory and has never intervened to destabilise the sisterly country of Sudan or harm its people"

The foreign ministry spokesperson further stressed that "Egypt’s foreign policy is based on respect for international law and the principles of good neighbourliness and non-aggression, especially when dealing with countries with which Egypt has special fraternal relations such as brotherly Sudan".

The Sudanese army has been fighting a group of armed movements in Darfur since 2003. UN agencies estimate that over 300,000 people were killed in the conflict and over 2.5 million were displaced.

Doha brokered the Darfur peace negotiations which resulted in the signing of the DDPD by the Sudanese government and the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) in July 2011. Also, a dissident group from the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) joined the DDPD in April 2013.

JEM and SLM-MM have engaged in peace talks with the government under the auspices of the African Union.

(ST)

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The Sudan Tribune editorial team.

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