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Sudan’s al-Bashir says disarmament campaign in Darfur “top priority”

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Sudan's bashir speaks at the opening session of the third Arab Conference for Agriculture Investment in Khartoum on 27 February 2017 (ST Photo)
August 23, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir has instructed the governor of North Darfur to deal decisively with any attempts to destabilize security saying the collection of illegal arms is a top priority for the government.

The Sudanese authorities have been working since several months to prepare a campaign to collect weapons and ammunitions in a bid to reduce the arsenal of arms in the hands of civilians and restore peace and security in the region.

However, the government is facing many challenges, because of the tribal militias that refuse to hand over their weapons due to the existing inter-communal disputes over water and pasture land and the long-established tribal tradition of cattle rustling.

The campaign is also facing another challenge posed by the tribal chief and former Janjaweed leader who reject the campaign and threatens to fight the army and its militia of the Rapid Support Forces involved in the disarmament process.

During his meeting with North Darfur governor Abdel-Wahid Youssef Wednesday, al-Bashir stressed “the importance to maintain security and stability that have been achieved”, saying any attempt to disrupt security must be handled decisively.

He instructed Youssef to continue the disarmament campaign, saying the government is determined to announce Darfur’s five states free of illegal weapons soon.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Chief of the General Staff, Lieutenant General Yahia Mohamed Khair pointed to ongoing coordination with a number of circles and neighbouring countries to prevent arms smuggling across the borders.

Khair, who spoke at a media forum on Wednesday, said the security forces have a lot of information on where the illegal arms come from, saying the armed forces is committed to implementing the government disarmament campaign.

For his part, the representative of the Ministry of Interior Lieutenant General Babiker Abu Samra, who spoke at the same forum, said armed conflicts in some neighbouring countries have contributed to the proliferation of illegal weapons.

He stressed the concerned bodies are monitoring the illegal arms bearers, pointing out that the unregulated vehicles are being used in the smuggling of the weapons.

Abu Samra said the arms would be collected voluntarily in the first phase of the campaign, saying the second stage would be carried by force.

He pointed that legal actions would be taken against those who refuse to hand over their weapons.

(ST)

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