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Border Guards refuse to join Sudan’s main militia

July 23 - 2017 KHARTOUM / EL SAREIF
RSF troops in the field (RSF official facebook page)
RSF troops in the field (RSF official facebook page)

Members of the Border Guards militia in Darfur have rejected plans by the Ministry of Defence to restructure “the supporting forces” of Sudan Armed Forces (SAF).

On Wednesday, during the opening of the seminar on “The Forces Supporting the Armed Forces” in Khartoum, Defence Minister Lt. Gen. Ahmed Awad Bin Auf announced his Ministry’s plan to reorganise “the supporting forces” of the Sudanese army.

The plan follows the outcomes of the National Dialogue, concluded in October last year, concerning the various armed forces in the country. The Dialogue recommendations stipulated the integration of all the country’s militias into the SAF – which in effect means integration into the militia component of the army, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

The Minister noted that the restructuring of the militia forces will not weaken but develop them.

Militias

The Border Guards, infamous in North Darfur for attacks on citizens, include about 3,000 tribesmen of the El Mahameed, headed by Musa Hilal. After Darfur rebel movements declared war against Khartoum in 2003, Hilal led large groups of militiamen, popularly called janjaweed, who were loosely collected from Arab tribes in the region, and launched widespread attacks on the African population in Darfur.

In March 2014, following disagreements with the authorities in Khartoum, Hilal returned to his base in north-west Darfur, where he established the Revolutionary Awakening Council. Hilal's troops announced the establishment of administrations in towns under their control in the area.

End May this year, the Council called on “all Arab tribes in Darfur, Kordofan, and Blue Nile state to disobey the government’s military orders and refrain from participating in its war convoys.

“The ongoing wars are fabricated for the purpose of a divide-and-rule policy of which the ruling elite in Khartoum is the ultimate beneficiary rather than the people of Sudan,” the Council’s spokesman said in a statement.

The RSF, Sudan’s largest militia, functions as a regular force of the Sudanese government, based on the 2016 Rapid Support Forces Act, which integrated the militia into the SAF, and provides for the commander of the RSF to be appointed by the President.

Since its creation in mid-2013, the RSF has led a number of brutal counter insurgency campaigns, supported by aerial bombardments, against civilian populations in South Kordofan, and mainly in Darfur.

The RSF are also deployed by Khartoum to prevent East African asylum seekers reaching Libya in a plan financially supported by the European Union.

Sale’

According to Haroun Medeikher, spokesman for Musa Hilal's Revolutionary Awakening Council, the Ministry’s decision is an attempt to sell the Border Guards to the RSF.

“The reorganisation of the militia forces was decided on a long time ago. It was only announced now,” he said. “Before, they tried to dismantle the Border Guards by integrating them into Military Intelligence and SAF forces. Then they were transferred to army battalions, and now they want to dismantle the battalions, and integrate them into the Rapid Support Forces."

The spokesman warned that “any attempt to let the Border Guards join the RSF will be an ill-considered and unwise decision”. He added that the head of the Revolutionary Awakening Council has not been consulted in this matter.


 


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