Leader of Eastern Front ex-fighters detained in Port Sudan

A leader of the demobilised Eastern Front combatants in eastern Sudan was detained again on Thursday, along with nine other members who demonstrated against the Red Sea government.

A leader of the demobilised Eastern Front combatants in eastern Sudan was detained again on Thursday, following a demonstration against the Red Sea government on Monday. Nine other members have been held in custody, too.

Police renewed the detention of Omar Hashim El Khalifa, the chairman of the Eastern Front Ex-Combatants Committee, hours after he was released by the security apparatus in Port Sudan on Thursday. Nine Beja Congress members are held in custody, including four who have been held since the demonstration on Monday.

The demonstration of the former armed movement was held by dozens of members, in protest against the state government's non-commitment to an agreement on small-enterprise projects, to be offered to the demobilised fighters.

Sheiba Dirar, chairman of the National Beja Congress, demanded the immediate release of the detainees and announced his full solidarity with the issue of the party.

'The government has not complied with our agreement on the delivery of small-enterprise projects.'

He told Radio Dabanga that the four members detained by the security apparatus in Port Sudan are Abdelgader Mahmoud Samra, Ahmed Hussein Taher, Osman Sirelkhatim and Osman Eisa. Those held in police custody since Monday are Mohamed Bilal, Haruon Idris, Anwar Silik, Mohammed Ahmed Taher and Anwar Ali Abu Fatima.

New agreement

“The government is delaying the delivery of the projects to the ex-combatants,” he said. “They need to be delivered in accordance with the timetable we agreed upon.”

Mid-March, the demobilised held a sit-in against the authorities’ failure to offer the basic requirements for small-enterprise projects. It was lifted after Dirar personally mediated an agreement on the delivery of the projects, scheduled at the beginning of April, he said. “The government has not complied with the agreement.”

The sit-in at the time was held in front of the Ministry of Finance in Port Sudan. One ex-Beja Congress combatant said that the Red Sea State government had agreed in September last year to provide small-scale production projects to 380 demobilised combatants. The projects would have been handed to the former fighters on 16 March.

The Beja Congress is among one of the rebel Eastern Front groups that have signed the Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement with Khartoum on 14 October 2006. Apart from political, economic, social, and cultural issues, it covered the disarmament and security arrangements for Eastern Front ex-combatants.