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First warning in Darfur's illegal arms, vehicle collection

August 8 - 2017 EL FASHER
Second Vice-President Hassabo Mohamed Abdelrahman durign a visit to Um Baru, North Darfur, in December 2015 (RD)
Second Vice-President Hassabo Mohamed Abdelrahman durign a visit to Um Baru, North Darfur, in December 2015 (RD)

The five governors of Darfur and the Second Vice-President of Sudan issued a warning to people who possess weapons illegally, or unlicensed vehicles, to hand them over or risk a penalty. Complaints arose over the government targeting civilians, not militias.

The first meeting of the Higher Commission for the Collection of Unlicensed Firearms and Vehicles took place in El Fasher this week and the high security committee announced the warning statement yesterday. People who illegally own weapons, ammunition, explosives or have unlicensed vehicles are ordered to hand them over to the joint Sudanese forces or the nearest police station.

Owners who refuse to cooperate will be subjected to a penalty according to the security measures, or will have their vehicle confiscated, in the current disarmament campaign in Darfur. Only owners of unregistered Land Cruisers will be compensated for the confiscation, Second Vice-President Hassabo Mohamed Abdelrahman told the members of the Legislative Council.

Paramilitary groups

Abdelrahman: “As of today, we will not allow arms to be in the hands of civilians under any pretext, other than the regular forces.” Yesterday in an interview in El Fasher he said that the regular forces have been given instructions to regulate and control weapons in the stores. This goes according to specific measures established for the many segments of the paramilitary Border Guards, Popular Defence Forces, Rapid Support Forces and Central Reserve Forces.

The second-vice president said that the Presidency of the Republic has granted a mandate to all forces to confiscate illegal vehicles and weapons without compensating owners, and the operation will take into effect as of Monday.

Collection from militias’

Representatives of displaced people and activists in Darfur have ridiculed the government's decision to collect weapons. Some complained that the ones who own a Land Cruiser with a machine gun mounted on top are often the bandits who wear a face-covering kadamool, roam the market carrying weapons, and exercise banditry without being held accountable.

“The correct name for this campaign is the collection of arms from the hands of the government’s militias, not from civilians.” - Activist

An activist from El Fasher, who preferred anonymity, told Radio Dabanga: “All those people who carry arms in Darfur mostly belong to militias backed by the government, supported with weapons, and they are called many names such as Rapid Support Forces or Border Guards.”

He stressed that the process of collecting weapons “does not require a lot of talking”: “The weapons can be collected by reference to the leaders of these militias.”

All the weapons in Darfur are in the hands of the militias who are related to the Sudanese regime, agreed El Shafi Ebdallah, the head of the General Coordination of the camps for displaced people and refugees. “The government's announcement to collect weapons misleads local and international public opinions.”

Decree

After chairing a meeting of the Higher Commission for the Collection of Unlicensed Firearms and Vehicles last week, the second vice-president issued a statement “for those holding illegal weapons, ammunitions, or unregistered cars”.

According to Presidential Decree 419 of 2017, illegal weapons, ammunition, and vehicles are to be handed immediately to the Sudan Armed Forces, the state commissioner, or the nearest military or police unit. Any legal action will be taken in line with Sudan’s Criminal Law, the Public Safety Act, and the Arms and Ammunition Act of 1986.


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