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Rebel leader supports refusal of Darfur militiamen to merge with Sudan’s RSF

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Border Guards Forces hold their weapons during a gathering in North Darfur area of Misteriya on 13 Aug 2017 (ST Photo)
August 19, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - A Darfur rebel leader, Abdel Wahid al-Nur Saturday welcomed the rejection of Musa Hilal’s Border Guards Forces (BGF) to be integrated into the government’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and called to work together to topple the regime of President Omer al-Bashir.

Hilal, a notorious militia leader accused of war crimes and atrocities in Darfur, refused the government plans to merge his tribal fighters of the BGF into the RSF militia led by Mohamed Hamdan Daglo aka “Hemeti, who was one of his close aides in the past.

The rejection of the tribal leader comes as the government began to implement a large-scale disarmament plan seen crucial to reduce violence in the region as the UN and the African Union decided to cut by nearly a half the peacekeeping force tasked with the protection of civilians.

In statements to Radio Afia Darfur on Saturday, the exiled rebel leader welcomed "the albeit belated awakening conscience of Sheikh Musa Hilal", adding it is time to welcome any person who quits the regime and stands against it.

"It is time for all the Sudanese people to stand united against the regime," he added.

The Sudan Liberation Movement led by Abdel Wahid al-Nur (SLM-al-Nur) refuses to declare a unilateral cessation of hostilities or to engage in a peace process with the government.

The Sudanese army clashed last year with the fighters of the holdout rebel group in the mountainous areas of Jebel Marra. But Khartoum stopped its military operations after an agreement with the American administration providing to allow unfettered humanitarian access in the whole region.

In a related development, a former rebel commander Abdallah Rizkallah Aka (Savana) announced his defection to Musa Hilal and called to reunite the armed groups against the Sudanese government.

Savana was one of the few Arab ethnic rebels. He fought against the rebel groups in the ranks of Hilal’s tribal forces before to rebel against the government, and to sign a peace agreement several years later.

"I am the leader of the Revolutionary Forces Movement, a signatory of a peace (agreement) with the Sudanese government, announce our withdrawal from the peace process, declare a rebellion against the government and (our readiness) to attack its forces," he told Sudan Tribune in a telephone interview.

To explain his defection, Savana said "The government asked me to recruit 10,000 fighters from the Mahameed (the tribal group of Musa Hilal) for the Rapid Support Forces. But, I refused because tomorrow they would get rid of me and hand me over to the ICC (International Criminal Court) as a war criminal," he said.

He further rejected the government’s decision to integrate the Border Guards into the RSF, declaring "Now we have rebelled against the regime in Khartoum, and we will confront it. Also, we are against anyone who protects this regime," he said.

Observers in Darfur say the refusal of BGF militiamen to be merged with the RSF can be seen as a rejection to work under the command of Hemeti who is from the same ethnic group and was BGF commander.

Also, Hilal who is involved in an illegal gold mining industry is seen in Khartoum as using his tribal militiamen to protect his lucrative business. Last January, the then interior minister Ismat Abdel Rahman pointed to the use of militiamen and foreigners in the protection of the illegal mining in Jebel Amir area in North Darfur and called to disarm them.

Savana called on the rebel groups to meet together in order to conjugate their efforts against the regime, pointing he is in contact with Gibril Ibrahim the leader of the Justice and Equality Movement and Minni Minnawi, a leader of one of the SLM factions.

The Sudanese military officials say they are determined to continue the disarmament campaign in Darfur, adding that after the voluntary stage, the army will carry out a compulsory disarmament campaign.

(ST)

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