Three years after Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir was ousted in a popular uprising, former members of his National Congress Party (NCP) are being given influential posts by the military junta, raising fears that they are making a political comeback.
A fragile transitional government was ended last year after Gen Abdel-Fattah Burhan carried out a coup against his civilian partners, who had played a pivotal role in the mass protests against Bashir’s authoritarian rule.
Many see the top generals – all members of a security committee appointed by Bashir in the dying days of his regime – as favouring the NCP, which imposed a strict version of Sharia (Islamic law) when in power.
Hamza Balol – a senior member of the pro-democracy Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) movement, which shared power with the generals until the coup – believes the military has sabotaged the transition by protecting the NCP.
He said the coup leaders had been “vigorously cooperating with the leaders of the previous regime to gain a political base”.
“[The] forces behind the revolution must unite to defeat the coup,” Mr Balol told the BBC.
More than 100 people have been killed since last October’s coup in regular protests demanding a return of civilian rule.
One of the first directives issued by Gen Burhan following the coup was to suspend the work of the committee set up to “dismantle” the former regime’s grip on power, and to reverse all its decisions.
The committee – led by lawyer Wajdi Saleh, who was detained after the military takeover – was instrumental in exposing the corruption that was rampant under Bashir.
It named corrupt officials and businessmen, fired civil servants, announced the seizures of assets, issued arrest warrants, froze bank accounts, and was investigating the dealings between the NCP leadership and army generals when the coup was staged.
The committee had its critics – some said it operated illegally, while others said it had become a tool for exacting unjust punishments.
After the coup, the military junta turned to the NCP and its sympathisers to consolidate its grip on power.
Hundreds of sacked employees returned to work at the central bank, the judiciary, prosecution service, state broadcaster and government ministries.
NCP loyalists appointed to key posts include Gen Ahmed Mufdal, a former governor of South Kordofan and once the NCP leader there.
He is now the head of the General Intelligence Service (GIS) – the rebranded National Intelligence and Security Service that was feared during Bashir’s rule.
In a further sign of the NCP’s return to public life, hundreds of bank accounts belonging to its members have been unfrozen, and some of its leading members have been released from detention.
Among them are:
Former NCP head, and former foreign minister, Ibrahim Ghandour
Former East Darfur governor Anas Omar, who is accused of human rights violations
Cleric Muhammad Ali Al-Jizouli who once supported the militant Islamic State (IS) group
Bashir himself, however, remains a prisoner of the junta. He was convicted of corruption in 2019, and has been on trial since July 2020 for the coup which first brought him to power in 1989. This is something that the pro-democracy movement pushed for, and the trial started before Gen Burhan’s seizure of power.
The junta has refused to hand Bashir over to the International Criminal Court to stand trial on war crimes charges over the conflict in Darfur, which he denies.
Some analysts believe the generals might eventually release Bashir, just as Egypt’s ousted President Hosni Mubarak was freed after the military took power in 2013.
NCP stalwart Ali Karti, who is also the acting general-secretary of the Sudanese Islamist Movement, a broad alliance of Islamist groups, is thought to be the man behind the NCP’s resurgence.
Currently living in Turkey, Mr Karti recently gave his first TV interview in more than three years. He defended the NCP and said Islamists had the right to reorganise themselves and contest the next election.
A former foreign minister, Mr Karti was also one of the high-profile figures who were targeted by the committee which cracked down on members of the Bashir regime.
Hundreds of plots registered under his name were confiscated in Khartoum North, leading some to dub the area Kartistan. He denied any wrongdoing.
He was reputed to be among the hawks in the Bashir regime, and set up the Popular Defence Forces, a militia formed at the peak of the government’s Islamist fervour in the 1990s.
It helped fight the war against the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), when it was demanding independence for the mainly Christian and animist region which is now South Sudan.
Bashir’s former information minister, Amin Hassan Umar, also gave an interview recently, and claimed that the Islamist movement had 500,000 fighters ready to defend Sudan from any threat.
There is no independent confirmation of his claim, but if the Islamists have 500,000 men under their command, they would outnumber the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a paramilitary group made up of the Janjaweed militia accused of widespread atrocities in the Darfur conflict.
Estimates of the number of RSF fighters vary wildly, from 50,000 to 150,000.
Some analysts believe that key figures in the military top brass, including Gen Burhan, are using the Islamists to curb the rising influence of RSF commander Gen Muhammad Hamdan Dagalo, who is currently the coup leader’s deputy.
The junta has promised elections next year, and to then hand power to a civilian government.
The US and Saudi Arabia are brokering informal talks between the generals and the FFC in a bid to resolve differences, but resistance committees – made up of grassroots activists who have been at the forefront of protests against the coup – remain deeply suspicious of the military and the protests are continuing.
They fear that senior generals will use the talks to gain legitimacy for their ultimate objective – organise a sham election, which would see a new Islamist bloc – which would include a rebranded NCP – take power.
“They [NCP] would be happy to contest elections with their organisational and financial advantages. This is the worry,” said Jonas Horner, a senior analyst at the International Crisis Group think-tank.
So, the resistance committees want the military to return to the barracks, and for a new transitional government to lead Sudan to democratic elections.
It is unclear whether they will achieve this objective, but they are likely to put pressure on the FFC not to strike a new power-sharing deal with the military.
Clashes in Sudan’s Darfur between Arab and non-Arab groups have killed more than 100 people, adding to a toll of hundreds in the region over recent months.
The latest fighting broke out last week between the Arab Rizeigat and non-Arab Gimir tribes in the district of Kolbus, about 160 kilometers (100 miles) from El Geneina, the capital of the West Darfur state.
It started as a land dispute between two people, one from the Rizeigat and another from the Gimir, before morphing into broader violence involving other members from both tribes.
“The fighting has so far killed 117 people and left 17 villages burnt,” including three Monday, The latest fighting broke out last week between the Arab Rizeigat and non-Arab Gimir tribes in the district of Kolbus, about 160 kilometers (100 miles) from El Geneina, the capital of the West Darfur state. Ibrahim Hashem, a leader in the ethnic African Gimir tribe, told AFP by phone.
Hashem said the deaths counted so far were largely among the Gimir tribe. He added that “many people” from his tribe have gone missing since the violence broke out and was continuing.
It was not immediately clear how many were killed among the Arab tribe.
The latest violence highlighted a broader security breakdown in Darfur which was exacerbated by last year’s military coup led by army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.
The October coup derailed a fragile transition put in place following the 2019 ouster of President Omar al-Bashir.
In April alone, more than 200 people were killed in clashes between an Arab community and the non-Arab Massalit minority in the Krink area of West Darfur.
The United Nations estimated 125,000 people were displaced in that unrest.
A month earlier, fighting in South Darfur between the ethnic Fallata and the Arab Rizeigat tribes killed at least 45 people.
On Monday, U.N. special representative Volker Perthes said he was “appalled” by the violence in Kolbus.
“The cycle of violence in Darfur is unacceptable & highlights root causes that must be addressed,” he said on Twitter.
Perthes called on the fighting sides to “de-escalate.”
Sudan’s western Darfur region was ravaged by a bitter civil war that erupted in 2003.
The conflict pitted ethnic minority rebels who complained of discrimination against the Arab-dominated government of then-President Bashir.
Khartoum responded by unleashing the Janjaweed, mainly recruited from Arab pastoralist tribes, who were blamed for atrocities including murder, rape, looting and burning villages.
The scorched-earth campaign left 300,000 people dead and displaced 2.5 million, according to the United Nations.
Many Janjaweed have since been integrated into the feared paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, commanded by General Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, de facto deputy leader of Sudan, according to rights groups.
In 2020, Sudan signed a peace deal with key rebel groups including those from Darfur.
The main conflict has subsided over the years, but the region remains awash with weapons and deadly clashes often erupt over access to pasture or water.
Violence and tensions rose in the past days in South and West Kordofan. At least six people were killed and 19 others were injured in tribal clashes in Abu Jubeiha, South Kordofan, on Sunday and Monday whilst at least nice people were killed in violent clashes in West Kordofan in the past days.
The fighting that broke out between Hawazma and Kenana tribesmen in Abu Jubeiha on Sunday evening continued until Monday noon. Markets and government offices in the town were closed completely.
El Nil Hussein, the mayor of Abu Jubeiha, reported that a group of young Kenana men were on their way from Abu Jubeiha to the village of Dakouj, east of the town, in a commercial tuk tuk on Sunday afternoon when five armed men intercepted them and robbed them at gunpoint.
Hussein told Radio Dabanga’s Voice of the States programme that people in the town set up a search posse and went out to pursue the perpetrators. This led to a firefight in the town that killed one man and wounded two others, who were taken to Abu Jubeiha Hospital.
In the early morning yesterday, fighting broke out again in the north-eastern suburbs of the town, in which various types of weapons were used. This led to the death of at least four people and the injury of at least 19 others. A number of families also fled their homes.
The clashes between the two sides continued until yesterday early afternoon when an army force intervened. The force however was unable to completely separate the two parties due to the residential overlap between them.
The mayor appealed via Radio Dabanga “to all parties to listen to the voice of reason” and for more military forces to intervene to restore the Rule of Law.
The governor of South Kordofan, Mousa Jabur, confirmed the military control over the events.
He told Radio Dabanga that he had contacted the commanders of the military units stationed in Kadugli and Abu Jubeiha and they confirmed their control over the security situation.
He further indicated the need to send more support based on information received from residents of the town.
The governor said that at least five people were killed on both sides and said that the statistics available so far were inaccurate.
Sources confirmed to Radio Dabanga from Abu Jubeiha that the Military Hospital in the town received three dead and seven wounded from one of the parties to the conflict.
Lagawa in West Kordofan state witnessed a cautious calm on Monday, following a series of violent incidents over the past days that resulted in the deaths of nine people and several injuries.
Ibrahim Hamed told Radio Dabanga that the situation in Lagawa calmed down yesterday, and markets and roads could re-open. The flow of transportation to and from the town also resumed.
Groups of armed men were not seen in the town anymore except in remote areas, the source said. He pointed to the arrival of a government delegation consisting of native administration leaders, headed by the deputy governor, who visited the families of the victims to offer their condolences.
The Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS) announced yesterday that it will be issuing a new note of SDG 1,000. The new note comes amidst rising inflation in Sudan.
In a public statement, the CBoS announced “to all the public that a new SDG 1,000 banknote has been issued” according to article 6A of the Central Bank of Sudan Law 2002 and its amendments and “based on the authorities of the Central Bank of Sudan and its competencies and responsibilities in protecting the national currency, stabilising the exchange rate, and helping to achieve economic stability”.
The SDG 1.000 note is the newest addition in a series of new notes of increasingly higher values amidst rising inflation.
Inflation of the Sudanese Pound
The socioeconomic detritus of the 30-year dictatorship of Al Bashir, who has also been on trial in Khartoum for currency offences, has left Sudan’s economy in ruins, with the value of the Sudanese Pound (SDG) at all-time lows against international currencies.
In its dying throes, the Al Bashir regime desperately ordered the printing of new currency denominations of SDG 100, SDG 200, and SDG 500 by the Central Bank of Sudan in an attempt to solve the chronic public and commercial liquidity crisis.
In the years after, concerns about the rising inflation grew, strengthened by Sudan’s importing of most basic needs, the budget deficit, and the dramatic increase in salaries financed through the printing of banknotes, which led to a further devaluation of the Pound.
Recently, the Sudanese Pound plunged even further, and the US Dollar traded for SDG550 on the parallel forex market. United Nations reports indicate that the value of the local currency has decreased 20 times (2,000 per cent) during the past five years.
The first days of 2022 saw the final collapse of the already tenuous political agreement that reinstated Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok after a period of house arrest following the military coup d’état of October 25 last year.
On January 2, PM Hamdok announced his resignation in a televised address to the Sudanese people. He underlined that he was unable to combine all the components of the transition to reach a unified vision, describing the crisis in the country as political, but it gradually, includes all aspects of economic and social life.
His resignation came amid ongoing reports of Sudanese security forces violently suppressing waves of the Marches of the Millions, that saw hundreds of thousands take to the streets across the country to express their rejection of the military coup.
In the subsequent vacuum and chaos, lawlessness and insecurity increased, especially in Darfur and Kordofan, fuelled by marauding gangs of armed bandits made up of former combatants and militiamen. Stores and compounds of international peacekeeping and relief organisations were raided, looted, and often levelled.
The international community, largely via the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS), initiated the facilitation of dialogue between the various actors in Sudan, in an attempt to solve the political impasse.
Protests against the military junta continued throughout February, as did their violent and deadly suppression by Sudanese forces. Looting of international and NGO resources continued in Darfur, amid rising concerns about food security as an effect of the political turmoil and rising food prices.
By March, the Sudanese Pound was in freefall against international currencies. Suppression of popular pro-democracy protests was the norm, and hundreds were detained, including activists and opposition politicians.
Violence claimed hundreds of lives and displaced thousands of people in Darfur and Kordofan, as armed groups scourged the region despite a joint force being deployed to counter them.
Sudan timeline, January – March 2022
January: Security forces continue suppressing protesters of the military coup d’état on October 25 last year. Prime minister Abdallah Hamdok resigns. The UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) will facilitate an intra-Sudanese dialogue in an attempt to resolve the current political impasse. Lawlessness and impunity in Darfur and South Kordofan continue.
January 3: The resignation of Hamdok sparks widespread reactions at local, regional, and international levels. Two North Darfur committees will investigate the looting at the warehouses of the World Food Programme (WFP) and the former United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) in El Fasher.
February: Protests against the military junta continue. More opposition members and activists are detained. The visiting UN independent human rights expert condemns the ongoing suppression.The US Congress may impose targeted sanctions on the October 25 putschists. UNITAMS continues to consult stakeholders about a broad dialogue ‘on the way forward’. Gen Hemeti heads a Sudanese trade delegation to Moscow at the time of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. People in various parts of the country predict a famine in the coming months.
February 17: At least 38 activists are detained incommunicado in Khartoum. More than hundred activists in Soba Prison continue their hunger strike in protest against their detention without legal charges. Medics criticise the Khartoum state’s ‘tenfold’ increase of the medical services tariffs.
February 26: The fall of the Sudanese Pound and ongoing price increases are prompting fears of a famine in the country. The death toll from the suppression of pro-democracy protests after the October 25 military coup rises to 83.
March: Attacks on residents of West Darfur’s Jebel Moon escalate. More pro-democracy demonstrators are killed. Lawlessness is growing in the country. The Sudanese Pound continues to plunge. UNITAMS and AU urge a nation-wide dialogue to halt the deteriorating security, political, and economic situation. UN agencies predict a food crisis for 18 million Sudanese.
March 14: The attacks in Jebel Moon, West Darfur, last week left 36 dead and more than 150,000 families displaced. At least 104 protesters are injured in Khartoum. The two young men held for allegedly killing a police brigadier in Khartoum in January go on hunger strike, demanding that the Public Prosecutor investigate the charges.
March 24: The death toll of pro-democracy protesters killed in the country following the military coup on October 25 last year rises to 90 during today’s Marches of the Millions.
March 27: Mass marches in Khartoum are met by more violence. A protester is shot dead. The Sudan Revolutionary Front rebel alliance supporting the military coup proposes two-stage dialogue to resolve the current political crisis in the country.
* The full name of the committee is the Committee for Dismantling the June 30 1989 Regime, Removal of Empowerment and Corruption, and Recovering Public Funds. It was established by the government of Abdallah Hamdok at the end of 2019 with the aim to purge Sudan of the remnants of the Omar Al Bashir regime. Empowerment (tamkin) is the term with which the ousted government of Al Bashir supported its affiliates by granting them far-going privileges, including government functions, the setting-up of various companies, and tax exemptions.
Hundreds of Sudanese protesters rallied Wednesday in front of the United Nations mission in the capital, Khartoum, to call for its dismissal.
The protestors included supporters of Islamist groups critical of efforts by UN envoy Volker Perthes to resolve the political crisis in the country since last year’s military coup.
“Volker must leave today, before tomorrow. If he doesn’t, we will make him leave by force. We will not plead, write reports or speeches [to the UN]. It will be by force, by direct force”, threatened Sudanese protester, Mohammed Sayed.
The rallies came as the UN Security Council is considering extending the mission’s mandate beyond June 3rd.
Many accuse the envoy of interfering in Sudan’s internal affairs.
“Volker came to involve parties [of the Forces of Freedom and Change] back in the Sudanese society. The Sudanese society is against these parties. These people work for their own benefit, and their work involves exclusion and vengeance. We will not stop, and we will not calm down until the problems in Sudan are resolved by the Sudanese”, claimed Ahmed Ali, another Sudanese protestor.
The UN mission, along with the African Union and regional bloc IGAD, have been pushing to facilitate Sudanese-led talks to resolve the crisis.
On Sunday, military leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan lifted the state of emergency imposed since the coup to set the stage for “meaningful dialogue that achieves stability for the transitional period”.
The decision came after a meeting with senior military officials that also recommended that people detained under an emergency law be freed.
A major city in Sudan’s Darfur region has been under fierce attack – days after thousands of people arrived there seeking safety after their own town was set ablaze by horse-riding Arab militias known as Janjaweed.
Even during the height of the Darfur conflict that started in 2003 – a war that has left about 300,000 people dead and more than two million homeless – Geneina’s hospital in West Darfur kept operating.
An aid worker in Geneina told the BBC that he and his colleagues were staying at a safe house and gunfire could be heard across the city.
Many families who already live in camps in the south of the city after fleeing from the Janjaweed in the past are panicking and leaving their makeshift accommodation.
The recent violence began 80km (50 miles) east of Geneina in Kreinik on Friday and more than 200 have been killed in clashes.
What sparked the clashes?
The fighting was caused by a dispute between Arab nomads and members of the Massalit community, who have clashed over land for decades.
It began after two Arab nomads were killed near Kreinik, a town that has become home to many displaced ethnic black Massalit communities over the last two decades – people who were driven from their rural villages by Janjaweed raids.
In retaliation for the nomads’ deaths, early on Friday morning Arab fighters raided Kreinik, leaving nine people dead and 16 injured.
Then on Sunday, a more co-ordinated attack was launched, this time backed by Sudan’s Rapid Support Force (RSF), a paramilitary force that grew out of the Janjaweed.
The town was set alight and local sources said schools and clinics were not spared – six teachers were killed in the raid.
A hospital supported by the medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) was targeted.
“Three people, including two medical workers, were killed. The hospital´s pharmacy was also looted,” MSF said in a statement.
Why didn’t the security forces stop the attack?
For many years, UN peacekeepers were trying to keep the peace, but they withdrew at the end of 2020 after their mandate expired – their presence resented across the divides. But even when they were deployed, they would not have been able to stop an attack of this ferocity.
Maintaining peace and security in Darfur is now supposed to be carried out by a joint force made up of the police, army, the RSF and the rebel groups which signed a peace deal in 2020.
But behind the scenes – they are all have competing ambitions and in no way represent a united front.
For example, the police have many non-Arab Massalit members and the RSF has many former Janjaweed members – some of whom have been caught up in the recent fighting.
The local unit tasked with protecting Kreinik withdrew from its positions before the attack, according to local activists.
Why did the fighting spread to Geneina?
The Janjaweed and RSF were chasing a group of fighters from Kreinik to Geneina – and it led to the rampaging of the hospital and general chaos as ethnic tensions flared.
Geneina is the traditional capital of the Massalit kingdom – a symbol of black power in Darfur, so is viewed with disdain by the Janjaweed, who have been accused of ethnic cleansing in Darfur.
Conflict first erupted in Darfur in 2003 when mostly non-Arabs took up arms against the government, complaining about discrimination and a lack of development.
The government retaliated by mobilising Janjaweed to fight the rebels, unleashing violence that caused global outrage that led to the deployment of peacekeepers and international arrest warrants.
It is the third time Geneina has come under attack since 2019 – a time of change for the country as Omar al-Bashir was ousted as president after nearly 30 years in power.
In March this year violent clashes left dozens dead and injured as well as several villages burnt in the Jebel Moon area to the north of Geneina.
Darfur is rich in gold – and there are accusations Janjaweed incursions are part of attempts to gain control of more land for prospecting.
Adam Rajal – a spokesman for the IDPs Co-ordination Committee, a group that liaises between all the camps for those who have fled their home since 2003 – suggests it is also an attempt to dismantle the camps.
He implies that perpetrators of alleged war crimes in Darfur are worried by the fate of a former Janjaweed leader whose trial has recently begun at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-al-Rahman, also known as Ali Kushayb, denies charges of committing crimes against humanity. He is the first person to be tried by the ICC over the conflict – and Bashir too is wanted by the court for war crimes and genocide, which he denies.
“The target is to depopulate towns and dismantle the camps… these IDP camps are the most visible proof of the crimes of genocide, ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity and the war crimes perpetrated by the previous regime,” says Mr Rajal.
Why is the RSF so powerful?
The governor of Darfur’s regional government Minni Minawi, a former rebel leader, has accused the authorities in Khartoum of not doing enough to rein in the RSF.
Originally a Chadian Arab, he grew up in Darfur – and has expanded the RSF’s membership to include fighters from across the country.
Observers say he is also using the inter-communal violence in Darfur to further his political ambitions.
The Janjaweed has long been accused of recruiting Arab fighters from Chad and other Sahel countries – encouraging them to bring their families as part of attempts to change the political constituency in Darfur.
Gen Hemeti has never commented on the allegations or on the recent violence in West Darfur, but in his public statements he calls for Darfur’s diverse communities to live in peace.
n our series of letters from African journalists, Zeinab Mohammed Salih writes that some people facing attack again in the troubled Darfur region rue the day they joined Sudan a century ago.
“I wish we could have joined Chad instead of Sudan,” said Saad Bahar Addin, who holds the title of sultan of Dar Massalit, a vast area that stretches along the border of the two countries.
Wearing a turban and Sudanese robes, the traditional leader made the comments while addressing dozens of the Massalit people – mostly black farmers – while they were sitting under neem trees to get shade from the scorching heat in Adeykong town overlooking Chad.
They had fled an attack earlier this month on the town, and neighbouring villages, by Arab militias known as the Janjaweed and linked to the Sudanese government’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
About five people were killed and 37,000 left homeless in the violence that is part of the long-running feud between black farmers and Arab nomads in Darfur.
The conflict is tinged with racism, with many Arabs referring to the Massalit by a derogatory word, “nawab”, which refers to slaves.
“We do not let the nawab come down from the mountain, and we can’t go up there, and when we find them we shoot at them,” said a 23-year-old wife of an RSF officer in Sanidadi village, from where many Arab militias carry out attacks. “But when they find our cattle, they catch and eat them.”
Conquerors of the French
Dar Massalit is in West Darfur State, but some parts of it are in eastern Chad as a result of the boundaries that were drawn up during the colonial era.
Most of the sultanate was incorporated into Sudan 100 years ago – in 1922 – following an agreement between its then leader, Sultan Bahar Addin, the French government and the British administration that ruled the rest of Sudan.
Dar Massalit is the only area in Sudan that was never colonised. The Massalit people defeated the French army twice – in January and November 1910 – as it was trying to expand its empire eastwards from what is now Chad.
One of the symbols of the Massalit people’s resistance against the invaders at the time was the town of Kreinik.
But last month, the town – where many displaced Massalit communities live – was brutally attacked. The RSF was accused of carrying out a raid that killed more than 200 people, including children and the elderly.
Nearly all the houses in the town, which is about 80km (50 miles) east of the city of Geneina, were burnt – and even livestock was killed.
It was the latest flare-up in the violence that has wracked Darfur since 2003.
Hundreds of thousands have been killed and more than three million fled their homes – some have been displaced five times, and live in camps or government buildings.
‘Sad and bad for unity’
For some in Massalit, it is the final straw.
“Many people I know are leaving for Chad. It’s sad and bad for Sudan’s unity, but I understand how people are feeling, especially after the last massacre,” said Hatim Abdallah, an activist from Kreinik.
The once mighty Massalit feel deeply aggrieved, saying that successive governments have promoted “Arabism” – overlooking black people for basic services such as education, health and the electricity.
The conquerors of the French, who have had their power slowly eroded, blame Omar al-Bashir, who was ousted as president in 2019 after nearly 30 years in power, for weakening them militarily.
His regime made a concerted effort to confiscate their weapons while arming Arab militias.
“They lack weapons, that’s why they are in this situation,” said Mohamed Abdallah Addouma, a human rights lawyer and former governor of West Darfur.
The Massalit do have some armed groups, but they were not part of the peace agreement signed by the government and other groups in 2020 in South Sudan’s capital, Juba – and who now all share power with access to Darfur’s mineral wealth.
“The former rebels who are part of the JPA [Juba Peace Agreement] mostly belong to the Zagawa community. They live in northern Darfur, and want the Massalit to be under their command instead of being independently armed and leading themselves,” said Mr Addouma.
Referendum forgotten amid wars
In terms of the 1919 deal with France and Britain, a referendum was to have been held 75 years later – in 1994 – to let the Massalit decide whether they want to remain in Sudan, join Chad or opt for independence – a choice the people of South Sudan exercised in 2011 after an almost three-decade-long military campaign against what they saw as political and economic marginalisation by successive Arab-led governments.
But the referendum for the Massalit failed to take place – they did not push for it, as “Bashir’s government created so many wars in this area, and people forgot”, said Dr Tawheeda Yousif, a senior official in the state government in Darfur.
As he now reflects on the plight of his people, Sultan Saad Bahar Addin said that joining Chad would have been a safer option as it has “a strong security apparatus”.
“People know that, and that the government there would protect them. But here there’s no state and very weak protection provided,” he said.
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia | Xinhua | The East African bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), on Monday hailed the Sudanese government’s decision to lift a nationwide state of emergency.
In a press statement, Workneh Gebeyehu, the Executive Secretary of IGAD, said he welcomed the decision of the Sovereign Council of the Republic of Sudan to lift the state of emergency and release prisoners.
“The Executive Secretary hails it as a positive step towards creating a conducive environment to all-inclusive intra-Sudanese talks,” the statement said.
“I encourage all stakeholders, including the main political parties, the military, civil society organizations and the youth to address the nation’s challenges through dialogue and discussion,” the statement from the IGAD chief further said.
Gebeyehu also urged all Sudanese stakeholders to actively take part in an initiative that aims to facilitate a Sudanese-led and owned process towards the restoration of constitutional order and democracy.
On Sunday, Chairman of Sudan’s Transitional Sovereign Council Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan issued a decree lifting the state of emergency in all parts of the country.
Sudan has been suffering a political crisis after Al-Burhan, who is also the general commander of the Sudanese Armed Forces, declared a state of emergency on Oct. 25, 2021 and dissolved the sovereign council and the government.
Since then, the Sudanese capital of Khartoum and other cities have been witnessing continued protests demanding a return to civilian rule.
June 2, 2022 (KHARTOUM) – Khartoum state on Thursday announced the closure of bridges in the Sudanese capital ahead of planned demonstrations to commemorate the third anniversary of the bloody raid on a pro-democracy sit-in.
Some 130 people were killed on June 3, 2019, according to rights activists, when the security forces attacked a sit-in outside the army general command in Khartoum. But the authorities said only 87 were killed.
In advance of a planned demonstration on Friday, the Khartoum state issued a statement announcing the closure of all bridges except for Al-Halfaya and Soba bridges.
This decision is “part of the measures taken by the authorities to maintain the security and safety of the citizens of Khartoum state and preserve their property in anticipation of possible violence and vandalism alongside the marches announced tomorrow ” reads a statement released by the state.
After the October 25, coup, the ruling military authorities used to take a series of measures including Bridge closure, internet shutdown, and road blockade to prevent protesters in the three cities of capital from holding unified rallies or reaching the presidential palace in Khartoum city.
Troika calls for justice
The Troika countries issued a statement on the third anniversary of the “brutal massacre” calling to try the perpetrators of the attack.
“The Troika (Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States) stands in solidarity with the survivors and victims and joins Sudanese in calling for the prompt resolution of the government-appointed investigation into the massacre and disclosure of findings to the public”.
“We urge the military authorities to bring those accountable for these horrendous crimes against peaceful civilian protesters to justice,” further stressed the statement.
The three countries, in addition, called for further confidence-building measures to support the political process facilitated by the trilateral mechanism and to refrain from the excessive use of violence against protesters.