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Darfur tribal reconciliation conference stalls over land ownership

February 28, (NYALA, MEROWE) – A reconciliation conference between Darfur’s Rizeigat and Ma’alia tribes being held in the locality of Merowe in the Northern state has stalled over the right of land ownership known as Hakura (traditional land grant).

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Maalia and Rezeigat delegations arrive at Al-Tawisha in North Darfur before the signing of a cessation of hostilities deal on 22 August 2013 (Photo: Hamid Abdulsalam/UNAMID)

Leaders of the traditional administration in East Darfur state called upon the two negotiations delegations to overcome the stalemate in order to restore the social fabric which has been ruptured for long time by fighting among various ethnicities.

Mohamed Salih, a tribal chief demanded in a statement to Sudan Tribune the two delegations to make compromises in order to arrive at a peaceful settlement for all differences which lead to the outbreak of bloody conflicts and claims lives of innocent civilians.

He added the reconciliation conference offers a golden opportunity that should not be missed to bring the bloody conflict between Rizeigat and Ma’alia to an end.

The reconciliation conference between the two tribes has convened on 15 February in the town of Merowe, Northern state under the auspices of the first vice-president Bakri Hassn Salih.

Last July, vice-president Hassabo Abdel-Rahman tried to mediate between the two tribes and organise a reconciliation conference in Al-Foula in West Kordofan state.

However, the meeting was cancelled after the Rizeigat rejected the participation of some Ma’alia members, saying they belong to another tribe. The Ma’alia were also sceptical about the involvement of Abdel-Rahman who is a member of Rizeigat tribe.

The two tribes also failed to hold another conference scheduled for 10 August.

Last August, 200 Ma’alya and 123 Rizeigat tribesmen were killed in clashes which took place in the Umm Rakubah area in East Darfur’ Abu Karinka locality.

Armed clashes between the two tribes in 2013 killed over 149 people and forced an estimated 51,000 people to flee their homes and seek shelter in Adila, Abu Karinka and Ed-Daein localities.

Both the Rizeigat and the Ma’alia are pastoralist tribes, based in East Darfur. The centre of Rizeigat territory is in El Daein town, while the Maalia centre is in Adila, the second largest town after El-Daein.

Tribal fighting has intensified during the last two years in Darfur and Kordofan regions in western Sudan leading to thousands of dead and injured and forcing over 300,000 people to flee their homes.

Salih, who addressed the closing session of the conference, urged Ma’alia to sign the reconciliation document, saying "we wish this document be signed in order to complete the reconciliation process".

He expressed appreciation to Rizeigat delegation who accepted to sign a permanent reconciliation pact with their Ma’alia brothers, stressing his government’s ability to carry out its duties and establishes security and peace in the country.

The reconciliation conference wrapped up its works on Saturday and urged the two tribes to fully abide by the provisions of the document and normalize their ties.

The conference determined that the land belongs to Rizeigat and owned by the state according to the constitution, law and customs, pointing the chiefdom of the Ma’alia will remain as it is in accordance with the ministerial decree number 57 of the 2004.

It also called upon the two tribes to work hard to achieve peaceful coexistence and return the affected to their villages, noting that individual incidents must be dealt with according to the law.

The document further called for paying previous blood money and return homes and shops to their Ma’alia owners who have been evacuated by the authorities during the clashes to preserve their lives.

The conference also approved a presidential decree to form a mechanism including police, security services and the traditional administration to follow up on the implementation of the conference decisions and oversee the return of the affected population.

(ST)