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North Darfur governor: Arms collection far from successful

December 25 - 2017 EL FASHER
Collected weapons in Nyala, South Darfur, November 2017 (file photo)
Collected weapons in Nyala, South Darfur, November 2017 (file photo)

The disarmament campaign in North Darfur has not led to the planned results, according to the state’s governor, although more than 170 militiamen affiliated with former janjaweed leader Musa Hilal have reportedly been arrested.

Talking to a Darfur local radio on Saturday, Governor Abdelwahid Yousif Ibrahim acknowledged the small number of the weapons collected so far.

He pointed to the spread of huge numbers of arms in North Darfur, and stressed that there is still a long way to go. Out of an estimated 700,000 weapons believed to be in illegal circulation across Darfur, only 30,000 have been collected.

The governor told the North Darfur parliament on 21 November that government forces collected 7,830 weapons, 240 four-wheel-drive vehicles for military use, and 287 other unlicensed vehicles so far.

On Sunday, the authorities in El Fasher began with the registration of Land Cruisers and double-cabin vehicles.

Arms collection, reform of militias

In July, Khartoum announced a large disarmament campaign in the country, to begin with in Darfur and Kordofan. Members of the Rapid Support Forces, Sudan’s main government militia, and the army began collecting illegal arms and unlicensed vehicles from civilians in the regions the following month.

At the end of October, the window for the voluntary handover of weapons ended and compulsory collection began. In North Darfur alone, more than 12,500 RSF troops were deployed to disarm civilians.

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.

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.

Musa Hilal

The collection of firearms from the Popular Defence Forces and the Central Reserve Police militias happened as planned, but the government forces failed to collect weapons from the paramilitary Border Guards, affiliated with former janjaweed leader Musa Hilal.

In early October, Hilal's Revolutionary Awakening Council warned for serious unrest in the state, if the government forces would proceed to forcibly disarm his militiamen. However, Hilal, his sons, brothers, and many of his entourage were arrested in a raid on his stronghold in North Darfur’s Kutum on 26 November.

The Governor of North Darfur told the local radio as well that 172 “serious criminals and outlaws” affiliated with Musa Hilal are currently being held at the Shala Prison in El Fasher amid tight security. They will be tried soon under the State of Emergency.

According to a report published by the Enough Project in November, Darfur faces a dangerous military stand-off, with the disarmament campaign by Sudan’s government increasing the risk of armed conflict and mass violence.


 


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