The Sovereignty Council announced that a ceremony will be held next week for the inauguration of a new batch of security forces concerned with the protection of civilians in Darfur as part of the implementation of the security arrangements stipulated in the Juba Peace Agreement. The presence of armed forces in Darfur has been subject to much controversy and negotiation over the past years.
When announcing the event, the council said that the first batch of former rebel forces will be inaugurated next Sunday in El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur, according to the security arrangements stipulated in the October 2020 Juba Peace Agreement (JPA).
The inauguration will take place in the presence of the President of the Sovereignty Council, his deputy, members of the Sovereignty Council, the wali (governor) of the Darfur region, and the Minister of Finance.
The number of soldiers that will be inaugurated is estimated at 2.000 after graduating from their months-long training in Jadeed El Seil camp in El Fasher.
Suleiman Sandal, Vice-Chairman of the JPA Security Arrangements Committee, said that the force will cooperate with the regular forces to establish security, protect peace, protect civilians, secure displaced people and refugees, and create a safe and stable environment.
He further confirmed that they are planning to start training a new cohort soon.
Earlier this month, the UN Expert on Human Rights in Sudan, Adama Dieng, said that the “implementation of the security arrangements envisaged in the Juba Peace Agreement needs to be accelerated and more joint security forces deployed in hotspot areas in Darfur to protect civilians and including Internally Displaced People, including women and children" as he expressed his concern "in relation to intercommunal conflicts and large-scale attacks against civilians in Darfur, including the events of 22 to 24 April in Kereinik".
The slow implementation of the security arrangements stipulated in the Juba Peace Agreement has been a point of critique and discontent for many displaced in Darfur, whose safety is still under severe threat.
Some of the promised security arrangements include the demilitarisation of the many gunmen and militias and the integration of rebel movements into the armed forces.
Violence by armed forces
The presence of regular armed forces in Darfur is controversial. Members of the Sudanese army, led by Chairman of the Sovereignty Council Lt Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan, or the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), led by Vice-Chairman of the Sovereignty Council Mohamed Hamdan ‘Hemeti’ Dagalo, are often associated with violence against local farmers and displaced people.
For example, one woman was killed and five people were wounded in an exchange of fire in the Ammar Jadeed market, west of El Fasher, on Sunday evening after theft by “an armed force”.
Listeners in the area told Radio Dabanga that the fighting took place following the theft of a large number of livestock by “an armed force” in the area earlier that day.
They said that a search posse formed by relatives and livestock owners and others followed the cattle rustlers. The trail reached the entrance to the Ammar Jadeed market. The members of the search posse then closed the market and exchanged fire with the thieves, which led to the death of a woman and the injury of five other visitors to the market.
The injured were transferred to El Fasher Teaching Hospital and a complaint was filed to the Central Police Department of El Fasher.
In Central Darfur, policeman Adam Mohamed was killed by armed men wearing military uniforms and driving Land Cruisers in the Bindisi camp for the displaced on Monday afternoon.
An eyewitness told Radio Dabanga that the victim worked as a guard at a fuel depot in the northern part of the camp. He said that the attackers stole the rifle of the policeman, stole a motorcycle from a camp resident, and plundered the fuel depot.
In January, a group allegedly consisting of members of government forces and former rebels reportedly looted all remaining assets of the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) mission from its former base in El Fasher.
In early February, two members of the Sudanese Joint forces and several attackers were killed after armed bandits – believed to be former rebel fighters – attempted to loot the former UNAMID base too.