Khartoum is planning to capture or assassinate tribal chief and former janjaweed leader Musa Hilal and defeat his forces, says Hilal’s Revolutionary Awakening Council (RAC).
In a statement on Saturday, the RAC revealed a plan to capture Hilal and send him “alive or dead” to Khartoum. It accused “influential parties” within the government of “seeking to punish Hilal”.
The implementation of the plan has reportedly been assigned to Sudan’s largest militia, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
According to the RAC, an RSF force of 60 Land Cruisers was recently dispatched from the north-western areas of Um Baro and Ein Siro. Another RSF force, consisting of 83 four-wheel-drive vehicles, is heading from Kabkabiya in North Darfur to the South Darfur capital of Nyala for the same purpose.
The Council warned that “those who hope that Hilal will be arrested and sent to Khartoum, alive or dead, will be disappointed”, and stressed “the readiness of the RAC to defend itself”.
The RAC further stated it stays committed to “a just political cause” and to achieving peace and stability in Darfur.
In early 2003, when Darfuri rebels took up arms against the government, Khartoum assigned Musa Hilal, chief of the Arab Mahameed clan in North Darfur, as the main recruiter of militant Arabs (popularly called janjaweed) in Darfur. With the full backing of the government, his militiamen targeted unarmed African Darfuri villagers, but they rarely came near forces of the rebel movements.
Hilal’s stance towards the government changed over the years. Mid 2013, he returned from Khartoum to his base in North Darfur, where his fighters, mainly members of the paramilitary Border Guards, began to attack government forces and allied militias.
Hilal established the RAC, consisting of native administration leaders and militants from various tribes in north-western Darfur, in Saraf Omra in March 2014. According to a UN Security Council report in April this year, he and his men are profiting from vast gold sales in Darfur.
In July, the Sudanese government announced a nationwide disarmament campaign, to be started in Darfur and Kordofan. The army and the allied RSF militia have been tasked with collecting illegal arms and unlicensed vehicles from civilians in both regions.
According to the RAC, the disarmament of civilians in Darfur “clearly targets Sheikh Musa Hilal and his tribe”. The Border Guards have opposed the plan from the start. They have also rejected plans to dissolve the various government militias in the country and integrate the members with the RSF.