More Sudan forces deployed for Darfur arms collection
The commander of Sudan’s main militia, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), announced on Sunday that Khartoum decided to deploy more forces for its disarmament campaign in Darfur. He ruled out a confrontation with his cousin, former janjaweed leader Musa Hilal, whose fighters refuse to hand in their arms.
In a press conference held at the RSF base in Teibat El Hasanab near Khartoum on Sunday, Commander Mohamed Hamdan (aka Hemeti) said that the forced collection of illegal weapons and unlicensed vehicles in Darfur will soon be expanded with “more armed forces”.
He stressed that his forces “will not leave any weapon in the hands of civilians [..] in all areas and villages of Darfur”.
In July, Khartoum announced a large disarmament campaign in the country, to begin with in Darfur and Kordofan. RSF militia and the army began collecting illegal arms and unlicensed vehicles from civilians in the regions the following month.
On 30 October, First Vice-President and Prime Minister Bakri Hasan Saleh announced the end of the voluntary handing in of their weapons and the start of the forced collection.
Darfuri government officials reported that 30,000 weapons have been collected during the voluntary phase. The number of illegal weapons in the region is estimated at about 700,000 pieces.
In North Darfur alone, more than 12,500 RSF troops have been deployed to disarm civilians.
The campaign is to be followed by a reform of “the supporting forces of the army”, by which the various government militias will be dissolved. The members are to join the RSF.
The collection of firearms from the Popular Defence Forces and the Central Reserve Police militias happened as planned, but the government forces so far failed to collect weapons from the paramilitary Border Guards, affiliated with Musa Hilal.
Hilal's Revolutionary Awakening Council already warned for serious unrest in the state, if the government forces would proceed to forcibly disarm his militiamen.
The RSF commander however ruled out a confrontation with Hilal’s fighters on Sunday. “We are targeting outlaws,” he told the press. “There will not be a confrontation between me and Musa Hilal, who is a citizen and my cousin.”
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