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Sudan Armed Forces: ‘Popular Defence Forces dissolved, not absorbed’

June 9 - 2020 KHARTOUM
Badge of the Popular Defence Forces
Badge of the Popular Defence Forces

The Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) has confirmed that the decision to dissolve the paramilitary Popular Defence Forces (PDF) was final, rebutting previous media reports that the militia has been reintegrated into the army.

In a press statement on Monday, the Sudanese army explained that the PDF has been dissolved, and its bases have been confiscated - together with the coordination office of the National Military Conscription Service.

The statement rebutted the previous social media and other reports that the PDF has been reintegrated into SAF, describing the reports as "baseless".

Yesterday, Radio Dabanga reported that as part of changes within the army, the PDF militia will now be called the Reserve Department. The report was based on posts on the SAF Facebook page by army Chief-of-Staff, Lt Gen Mohamed El Hussein, that the militia’s name was changed and that its command has been changed as well. “The Reserve Department will be part of the Ministry of Defence. It will have its headquarters in Khartoum,” Gen Hussein claimed.

The PDF was established as an Islamist militia after Omar Al Bashir’s military coup in 1989. Under international law it was considered part of Sudan's military because it was created by statute.

The Al Bashir regime, however, defined the militia as a semi-military force of Sudanese citizens. PDF members received training, uniforms, weapons, and food, but no salaries. It played a major role in the distribution of weapons to, and military training for, tribal militias.

The PDF also operated as a reserve force for the Sudan Armed Forces. The members were mainly mobilised from Darfur and Kordofan to fight against the rebel movements in the country.

After the fall of Al Bashir in April last year, the militia continued to be operational, in particular in South Kordofan, resorting to banditry, assaulting and robbing people in the region.

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