The Revolutionary Awakening Council (RAC), headed by former Janjaweed leader Musa Hilal, claim that its combatants have taken control of the Jebel ‘Amer gold mining area in North Darfur.
The RAC’s military commanders reportedly stated that access to the gold mine is not allowed to “any company or government institution”, except with their permission.
Multiple sources in El Sereif Beni Hussein locality explained to Radio Dabanga that the RAC took this step after the leader of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), Mohamed Hamdan, nicknamed Hemeti, paid a visit to the gold mine some days ago.
The leader of the RSF militia, commanded by the National intelligence and Security Service (NISS), visited Jebel ‘Amer together with representatives of a NISS-owned gold mining company.
“Hemeti met with leading sheikhs of the area, and told them that the Jebel ‘Amer gold mine will be protected by the RSF, as a number of gold mining companies will start operating in the area,” one of the sources said. “The militia leader also told the sheikhs that the entire mining area will be fenced off with barbed wire.”
Hemeti reportedly also told the sheikhs that an agreement has been signed that provides for the equal distribution of the mining profits between the Sudanese government, North Darfur state, and himself.
In response, Musa Hilal and his commanders took control of the area, the sources said.
The independent Sudanese electronic newspaper El Tareeg stated today that the governor of North Darfur denied hearing about the occupation of Jebel ‘Amer by RAC fighters.
Musa Hilal, from an Arab clan in eastern North Darfur, became notorious as Janjaweedleader after simmering conflicts in Darfur erupted into a full-scale war in April 2003. Hilal, at the time serving a jail sentence for stirring-up ethnic conflicts and several murders, was released, and tasked by the Sudanese government with the mobilisation of militiamen, mostly among impoverished Sudanese Arab herders.
His militiamen targeted unarmed civilians in the region, attacking Darfur villages, but they rarely came near forces of the armed rebel movements.
Early 2008, President Omar Al Bashir offered him the post of presidential assistant for federal affairs. After five years, however, Hilal returned to North Darfur, where his fighters launched widespread attacks on government forces and allied militias.
Hilal established the RAC, together with North Darfuri tribal leaders, in the beginning of 2014. In December last year, the RAC announced the formation of a new management board for the Jebel ‘Amer gold mining area. The RAC spokesman told Radio Dabanga that the management board, and not the Sudanese regular forces, would be responsible for the protection of the gold mine.
The spokesman also said that Musa Hilal called on all Darfuris to “stand up against the National Congress Party and its corrupt regime”.
The alienation of Hilal from the Sudanese government seems to have been reversed last month. On 7 June, Radio Dabanga reported that he attended the swearing-in ceremony of the re-elected President Al Bashir in Khartoum. After his return, he stressed to his followers that he would not lead any uprising against the ruling party, but would cooperate with the government to “realise reconciliation on all levels of Darfur society”.