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Justice and Equality Movement (JEM)

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This background on JEM is taken from The Sudanese press after separation – Contested identities of journalism. MICT 2012, Page 42-43.

The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) is an armed opposition group in the Western region of Darfur. Its roots date from 1993 when it started establishing clandestine cells in Darfur and Khartoum. There, in 2000, the underground group secretly circulated “The Black Book”, a general critique of regional imbalance that documented the post-independence predominance of elite groups from the central Nile valley in government, commerce and the army as well as the marginalization of Westerners. The physician Dr. Khalil Ibrahim declared the founding of JEM in 2001, while completing a master’s degree in public health in the Nether-lands. In April 2003, a joint force of JEM and the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) started the rebellion in Darfur by attacking the air base in El Fasher. Viewed by some as the armed wing of the Islamist Popular Congress (see PC), many JEM activists had in fact been followers of PC leader Sheikh Hassan Al Turabi and have retained his revolutionary radicalism, while deny- ing ongoing affiliation. Ibrahim himself had held ministerial posts in state governments during the 1990s and was committed to the counterin- surgency in Southern Sudan before his disenchantment with the ruling National Congress Party (see NCP). There are persistent rumors that Turabi keeps close links with JEM through his Germany-based deputy Ali Al Haj. Nevertheless, JEM’s refusal of a separation of religion and politics has made it appear even more Islamist than the NCP itself. Unlike the SLA, JEM has declared a national rather than regional agenda, fighting for power in Khartoum. However, JEM’s ethnic tendency has been at least as signifi- cant as its Islamist roots, since most of its supporters are from the Kobe Zaghawa group in Northeastern Darfur. Although it has suffered several splits along clan lines and opportunistic alliances, it is more disciplined than other rebel groups and became the leading force after 2005, escalating the war with support from Chad. In 2006, JEM became involved in the civil war in Chad on the side of President Idriss De?by, himself a Zaghawa.

Two years later, it launched an attack on Khartoum, which failed militarily but raised its national standing and broadened its base. In 2009/2010, however, a rapprochement between Chad and Sudan deprived JEM of its bases and supply lines in Chad, and Ibrahim was expelled to Libya. JEM had been accused of acting as mercenaries for the Libyan dictator Muam- mar Al Gaddafi, but JEM claimed that Ibrahim was kept under house arrest in Tripoli. After Gaddafi’s downfall, Ibrahim escaped to Sudan where he was killed by an air-strike in December 2011. He is succeeded by his brother Jibril. JEM has joined the rebel Sudan Revolutionary Front, an alliance with the SPLM-Northern Sector and the main two SLA factions. It has recently been fighting in Southern Kordofan for regime change, allegedly with support from South Sudan and Uganda.

JEM Links

Wikipedia - Justice and Equality Movement (JEM)


Al Jazeera English | South Sudan hosts Darfur rebels - 22 Oct 2007

The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) has hosted talks in Juba, Sudan’s southern capital, between rebel Darfur factions hoping to find consensus between the groups.


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