The wali (governor) of South Darfur, Mousa Mahdi, announced the arrest of a number of individuals who killed three farmers in the village of Dabanga in El Wehda locality in a speech on Thursday. Yesterday, Mahdi officially signed the handover of the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) offices in Nyala to the South Darfur government.
In his announcement during an inspection of a village in South Darfur, the governor also vowed to pursue all those who attack farmers.
He also confirmed that the State Security Committee will set up security reinforcements in the northern regions of South Darfur, establish a police department in the region, and publish strict guidelines to prevent further friction between herders and farmers.
Wali Mahdi pledged to bring the arrested perpetrators to a fair trial and reiterated his rejection of any solutions through reconciliation conferences.
Previously, reconciliation conferences between Fallata herders and Masalit farmers failed to bring peace to the region. In December, militant Fallata herders attacked Masalit neighbourhoods in Gireida after two Fallata tribesmen were shot dead during a dispute at a water well. This led to the deaths of 13 Masalit and the injuring of 34 others.
Yesterday, Mousa Mahdi officially signed the handover of the base of the UNAMID in Nyala to the South Darfur government on behalf of the Government of Sudan and the United Nations UN.
After the handover ceremony, Mousa Mahdi thanked the forces for the great and excellent services they provided to the displaced and the local community. He further pledged to protect the area and its inhabitants so that they would not be subjected to violence and assaults like what has taken place in North Darfur and El Geneina, West Darfur.
Often, the violence has its roots in tribal tensions. The excessive violence in El Geneina, for example, took place when large groups of Arab tribesmen attacked El Geneina and the two Kerending camps after the killing of an Arab herdsman by a member of the Masalit. The attacks left at least 163 people dead.
Earlier this year, a conflict between Rizeigat and Fallata herders in South Darfur cost the lives of at least 70 people from both tribes.
Darfur has a long history of strife between often Arab herding tribes and non-Arab African herders or sedentary farmers, which were exploited by the previous regime of dictator Omar Al Bashir who supported the Janjaweed militia* that carried out ethnic cleansing in the region.
At the end of last year, governors in Darfur warned that the withdrawal of the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) would lead to an increase in violence in the region. Protests against the UNAMID exit have taken place across Darfur in the past few months.
“Darfur is on the verge of sliding back into conflict” warned the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) director Alexandra Bilak last month.
* The janjaweed are members of ‘Arab’ herders tribes that inhabit Darfur, and North and West Kordofan. Some of the Janjaweed members come from Chad, Niger, Mali, or Cameroon. The Sudanese regime of Omar Al Bashir, ousted on April 11 2019, recruited them to fight armed movements in the region since February 2003, when rebels stood up against Khartoum and accused the regime of oppressing the non-‘Arab’ African population in Darfur. In reality, the Janjaweed targeted villages of ‘African’ Darfuris, with full government backing. They rarely came near strongholds of the rebel movements.