Rallies, protests as President Al Bashir tours Darfur states
Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir has addressed public rallies in the North Darfur capital of El Fasher on Friday, and the West Darfur capital of El Geneina on Saturday, as part of a tour of all five Darfur states, ahead of the 11-13 April referendum on the future of the region.
Speaking in El Fasher on Friday, Al Bashir proclaimed that “the armed movements in Darfur have receded and fled to neighbouring countries, especially Libya and South Sudan.”
The President continued that “The battle of Goz Dungar in South Darfur has constituted the ultimate end of the armed movements.” He added that “now they are in South Sudan and Libya awaiting payment in dollars”.
Al Bashir also declared the “Jebel Marra is free of the armed movements” and said his troops had “taught Abdel Wahid El Nur [leader of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM-AW)] a lesson… the forces troops will clean and declare Jebel Marra completely free during the coming period.”
Al Bashir described SLM-AW head as “obstinate who sticks to his positions opposing peace, in spite of sending different mediations to convince him of peace”.
Speaking to Radio Dabanga, Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) leader Jibril Ibrahim, mocked the Al Bashir’s allegation of the end of the rebellion in Darfur. He described the President’s speech as “revealing that he did not understand the lesson that the revolution will not die and the people of Darfur will not give up their rights and legitimate demands”.
SLM-AW leader Abdel Wahid El Nur, however, stressed to Radio Dabanga that “Jebel Marra is steadfast and will remain steadfast”.
He pointed out that “the militias did nothing there but murder, rape, rob, and burn villages… The mediations that Al Bashir is talking about offer positions rather than resolve the problems of Sudan.”
El Nur wondered what those who have received the positions have done to the Sudanese people, and appealed to “the armed movements, the political forces, and the Sudanese people to unite so as to sweep and oust the Khartoum regime”.
Al Bashir called on the displaced and refugees to return to their areas once security and stability prevails in the region. He also pledged to provide basic health services, education, clean drinking water, and the establishment of development projects in the Darfur.
However, Omda Ahmed Ateem, the Coordinator of the North Darfur camps for the displaced told Radio Dabanga that Al Bashir’s call on the displaced to return to their villages and homes is “saddening and causing laughter at the same time, as the aerial bombardments, militia offensives on the ground, killing, rape, pillaging, and burning of villages have been ongoing in Jebel Marra”.
Professor Hamid El Tijani of the American University in Cairo, described Al Bashir’s pledge in to provide health care and other services in Darfur as “false and repeated”.
Prof. El Tijani called on Al Bashir to address the priorities of the region to achieve security, peace, repair the social fabric, reconciliation, expulsion of new settlers from Darfur, and then the move on to development.
“The aim of Al Bashir’s visit to Darfur is to launch the division of Darfur province into states which is a challenge to the people of the province who have witnessed massacres at the hands of Al Bashir, which led him to be indicted by the International Criminal Court,” Prof. El Tijani told Radio Dabanga.
The displaced residents of Kalma camp in Nyala, South Darfur, staged a mass demonstrations in the camp on Saturday and Sunday in protest against the referendum and President Al Bashir’s scheduled visit. Witnesses told Radio Dabanga that residents carried placards and banners protesting against “the genocide in Darfur, as well as the new settlers”.
Kalma camp head, Sheikh Abdelrahman Ali El Tahir, handed a memorandum to the Unamid police on behalf of the displaced, which outlines their rejection of the referendum, and protest at “new settlers seizing their lands”.
On Saturday, Al Bashir told a rally in El Geneina that after the referendum, a national body will collection illegal arms, and confine them to the regular forces only. He said that that the first phase will be to collect the weapons voluntarily for compensation by the government. The second phase will be a collection of weapons through the compulsory implementation of the law.
He also expressed his country’s unwillingness for international organisations to be present in in Darfur: “We do not want organisations any more. Thanks to them, we are the ones who support and aid the people, not to be aided.”
Pictures: Protest march in Kalma Camp, South Darfur (RD)
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