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‘EU should support Darfur peace instead of Sudan govt.’: rebel leader

May 8 - 2017 PARIS
Minni Minawi at a peace workshop in Addis Ababa in 2013 (file photo)
Minni Minawi at a peace workshop in Addis Ababa in 2013 (file photo)

In a statement today, Minni Minawi, head of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM-MM), calls on the European Union to support the Darfur peace process, and refrain from funding the Sudanese government in its battle against illegal migration.

“While the Sudan Liberation Movement is making vigorous efforts to find a way out of the deadlock in the peace process in Sudan in general and in Darfur in particular, the Government of Sudan is exerting great efforts in the opposite direction. It uses every opportunity to strengthen its military arsenal in preparation for war,” Minawi says.

According to the rebel leader, Khartoum considers the rapprochement with the EU countries “which are in dire need of combating illegal migration from the Sahara across Libya and the Mediterranean [..] a golden opportunity to raise funds and resources for the purpose of strengthening its military arsenal, and rebuilding the capacities of the janjaweed militias which have been transferred into the Rapid Support Forces (RSF)”.

Funds

Minawi refers here to an €100 million support package pledged by the EU to Sudan in April 2016, to address irregular migration. The funding is aimed to tackle the root causes of instability, irregular migration and displacement. Targeted areas are eastern Sudan, Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile state. Another €40 million is appointed to Better Migration Management, supporting the process in Khartoum.

Actors in Sudan and abroad have protested the new EU policy. They warned not only for the possibility that the money might enter into the pockets of “corrupt groups”, but also that the funds may be used to “embolden a regime and militia force that acts with impunity and now faces even fewer checks on its criminal behaviour”.

The RSF militia was created by the Sudanese security apparatus in 2013 to fight the armed rebel movements in the country. Since early 2014, they have raided dozens of villages in various parts of Darfur. In 2016, they began to patrol the Sudanese borders to intercept illegal migrants.

The EU has denied that its new cooperation with Sudan would support the RSF. Assistance will be “delivered at bilateral and regional levels through international agencies and NGOs”, the EU Delegation in Sudan said in September 2016.

According to Transparency International in 2016, Sudan is one of the most corrupt countries in the world. As for the national budget, about 60 percent is reportedly spent on the defence and security sector.

Trafficking

Minawi expects that Khartoum will use the EU funds to strengthen the RSF militia with extra troops and equipment. He says that “under the pretext of combating illegal migration” they will engage in human trafficking themselves “as they are able to penetrate deeply into the borders of neighbouring countries such as Libya”.

The rebel leader points in this context to the funds donated by the Government of Qatar to Sudan for the development of Darfur, which according to him have been used for “more forced displacement [of certain tribes], the settlement of newcomers in their territories, and the [..] construction of facilities such as new wells and villages in these settlement areas while the areas of other tribes are excluded”.

New approach’

He states there is an urgent need for “a new and effective approach to reach peace in Sudan, an approach that addresses the roots of the political crisis in Darfur”. Not only the EU should join “the negotiation platform” but also the neighbouring countries that have “a security impact on Darfur” in order “to contribute [to the peace process], along with the nations and organisations already involved”.

According to the rebel leader, EU participation in the peace negotiations will provide “a real opportunity [..] to defeat the malpractices of the Sudan government concerning migration across Sudan to Libya and Europe”. He says that “other important actors in the region [may help combating illegal migration] such as the Sudan Liberation Movement whose ties are socially and geographically very strong in the areas the illegal immigrants are crossing”.

Sanctions

In his statement, Minawi as well condemns the lifting of the US sanctions on Sudan. This “is an unsuccessful step because it only serves to strengthen the government's opportunities to use these resources in committing violations and further genocide against civilians in the region.

“Therefore lifting of sanctions must be conditioned to the complete elimination of the causes that led to the imposition of sanctions, such as genocide, international terrorism, and other issues”.

The rebel leader concludes his statement by reaffirming its commitment to negotiating a just and lasting peace, “under the auspices of the African Union, with the presence of key international actors”.


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