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Sudan: Govt. delegation meets with Musa Hilal in West Darfur

January 13 - 2015 EL GENEINA
Musa Hilal (L) and Dr Ibrahim Ghandour during the meeting in El Geneina, 12 January 2015
Musa Hilal (L) and Dr Ibrahim Ghandour during the meeting in El Geneina, 12 January 2015

A government delegation, led by Dr Ibrahim Ghandour, Assistant to the President, met with former Janjaweed leader Musa Hilal in El Geneina, capital of West Darfur, on Monday. The reasons for the meeting remain unknown.

Hilal told a reporter of El Sayha daily newspaper after the meeting on Monday that he “received a message from the Presidency”.  

“During our meeting with Dr Ghandour, at the office of the West Darfur state’s Security Committee, we referred to a former discussion with President Al Bashir,” he said. “We told them that we are building on what was discussed in that meeting. We will see if it is possible to implement this on the ground. Hopefully, the differences between us and the centre will be solved.”

Ghandour told reporters that he reached points of agreement with Hilal, “that will benefit the country and the region”. He said that Hilal expressed his appreciation of President Omar Al Bashir and the ruling national congress Party, and denied reports about a rebellion”.

Janjaweed leader

Hilal, belonging to an Arab clan in North Darfur, became notorious as Janjaweed leader, 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 with the mobilisation of militiamen, mostly among impoverished Sudanese Arab pastoralists.

His gunmen, called Janjaweed in Darfur, targeted unarmed civilians in the region, attacking African Darfuri 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. Mid 2013, however, Hilal returned to North Darfur, where his fighters launched widespread attacks on government forces and allied militias.

Revolutionary Awakening Council

Early 2014, he established the Revolutionary Awakening Council (RAC), together with North Darfuri tribal leaders. Observers and followers alike were surprised to hear the news about a Memorandum of Understanding, signed by a RAC representative, and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North in July 2014, agreeing to “end the wars in all parts of Sudan, bring down the totalitarian regime, and establish a democratic system” in the country.

In December last year, the RAC, in cooperation of North Darfuri tribal leaders, announced the formation of a new management board for the gold mining area of Jebel ‘Amer in North Darfur. The RAC spokesman told Dabanga that the management board would be responsible for the protection of the gold mine, not the regular forces.

The spokesman furthermore said that Musa Hilal called on all Darfuris to “stand up against the National Congress Party and its corrupt regime”.

A source told Dabanga in July last year that Hilal was still an NCP member, and Member of Parliament. His name, however, did not appear at the list of NCP candidates for the upcoming elections, scheduled for April this year. Ghandour attributed Hilal’s absence from the list to the fact that he was not chosen by the party members.

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