Sudan Revolutionary Front divided over chairmanship

Conflicts within the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) rebel alliance about its presidency surfaced on Sunday, after Dr Jibril Ibrahim, head of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) was elected as the new SRF chairman.

Conflicts within the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) rebel alliance about its presidency surfaced on Sunday, after its leadership council failed to reach consensus on the matter. Darfuri rebel leaders confirmed to Radio Dabanga that Dr Jibril Ibrahim, head of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) has been elected as the new SRF chairman.

Early on Sunday morning, El Tom Hajo, co-vice president and SRF media officer, issued a statement of behalf of the alliance's leadership council, in which he announced that Dr Jibril Ibrahim, the head of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) was chosen as the new SRF chairman, “in accordance with the principle of a rotating presidency, agreed on since the establishment of the SRF in 2011”.

Hajo further thanked Malik Agar for chairing the rebel alliance since its establishment, and pledged that the SRF will continue their struggle to achieve peace, democracy, and equality in Sudan.

His short announcement came at the end of a five-day SRF leadership meeting in Paris, that was concluded on Saturday.

Majority versus consensus

However, SRF chairman Malik Agar denied the news some hours later. In a three-page statement, he regretted Hajo's announcement, saying that it has nothing to do with the outcomes of the leadership's meeting.

Agar explained in the statement that the SRF council concluded its meeting on Saturday without an agreement on the new chairman. “We did not agree on a statement as we were not able to resolve the dispute on the selection of a new SRF head.”

He said that the SRF leaders agreed in June to extend the current chairmanship for a year “until the SRF Constitution is amended, and the text on the choice of the chairman, which will be decided by the majority instead of consensus. [..] We entirely agreed with this decision so that the president will chosen in a democratic way”.

The chairman further acknowledged the existence of two blocks with the SRF council, “which we must not accept. We have to overcome this impasse, for the benefit of our people so that they can enhance their struggle”. He deeply regretted Hajo's statement, saying that “it will exacerbate stagnation and polarisation at a time we are in dire need for unity.”

'Ibrahim elected'

In September, the three main Darfuri rebel movements and the Democratic Unionist faction led by El Tom Hajo nominated the JEM leader for the chairmanship. Yet the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), headed by Malik Agar, the eastern Sudanese United Popular Front for Liberation and Justice, and the National Umma Party’s faction led by Nasreldin El Hadi insisted on the amendment of the regulations first.

The leader of the mainstream Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM-AW) and SRF co-vice president Abdelwahid El Nur confirmed the statement of Hajo. He told Radio Dabanga today that “the election of Dr Jibril Ibrahim took place in accordance with the SRF Constitution and its charters”.

Minni Minawi, head of the SLM-MM faction, added that “all the sessions of the Paris meeting revolved around the new presidency and ended with the announcement of Dr Jibril Ibrahim as the new head of the SRF”.

The SRF will take part in series of meetings with members of AU High-level Implementation Level to discuss the way forward to achieve peace in Sudan. The sessions are scheduled to commence in Addis Ababa on 2 November.